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Common Signs of Water Damage in a Basement

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We’ve all seen the nightmare scenario of a flooded basement, with standing water wreaking havoc on the flooring, walls, and anything in the room. But while flooding in a basement is catastrophic, there are other, more subtle, ways that water can damage a basement. Some of the symptoms of water in a basement may go unnoticed until there is significant damage. Unless you know what to look for.

A regular inspection of your basement can often produce signs of damage in its early stages. Some of those signs of water damage include:

Water Stains: Discolored areas on the floor, walls, or ceiling can indicate that water has been present. This water can come from plumbing leaks or intrusion from the outside.

Cracks in the walls or floor: A build up of pressure due to standing water or saturated soil on the outside of your basement walls is referred to as hydrostatic pressure. This pressure can exert great force on the walls or the floor if the soil underneath is saturated, causing cracks in the masonry. While small hairline cracks are fairly common and no cause for concern, if the cracks are larger than ⅛ inch or if the cracks are horizontal or diagonal like stairsteps, the masonry may be succumbing to hydrostatic pressure. This issue must be addressed or the cracks will only get larger, which can lead to significant damage. 

Musty smells: Large amounts of water are not needed to cause damage in a basement. Ambient humidity can create an ideal environment for mold and mildew growth, which will produce musty, dank smells in a basement.

Peeling paint or wallpaper: If the paint or wallpaper in your basement is peeling or bubbling, the obvious cause is moisture. 

Mold growth: While a musty smell can signal the presence of mold in a basement, if the problem is not addressed the mold problem will become worse. If there are visible signs of mold growth on the walls, floor, or ceiling, the problem is already fairly advanced. Mold can be many colors, but it is most commonly seen as black discoloration in the sheet rock walls.

Efflorescence: If you notice white or gray deposits on your basement masonry walls, it is most likely efflorescence, and it is a sign that water has been coming through your walls. When water penetrates masonry or other porous materials, it dissolves the salts in them and carries them to the surface. When the water evaporates, those salts are left behind. They react with carbon dioxide in the air and turn to crystals.

While the problem of water damage in a basement can seem daunting, it’s a fairly common issue and one that we help homeowners with regularly. Whether we need to install a basement drainage system, or install a dehumidifier, or perform exterior waterproofing, there are a number of solutions for water damage in a basement. If you have a flooded basement or water damage in your basement in the Charlotte area, give us a call or fill out the form for a free, no obligation consultation. We’ll inspect your basement to determine if and where water is coming in, and if needed, we’ll devise a plan to get your basement back in tip top shape.

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