An empty room with a flooded floor.

How to Fix a Damp Basement

A damp or wet basement is a common problem in many homes. Excess moisture can lead to mold, mildew, rotting framing, and an unpleasant musty smell. Fortunately, there are several effective solutions for drying out a basement and preventing future water issues.

Identify and Address the Source of Moisture

The first step is to figure out where the water is coming from. Potential causes include:

  • Rainwater or snowmelt seeping in through the walls or floors
  • A high water table below the basement
  • Leaking water or sewer pipes
  • Overflow from gutters or downspouts

Once you identify the source of the moisture, you can take the appropriate steps to address the problem:

  • For groundwater seepage, consider installing an interior or exterior drainage system.
  • Fix leaking pipes, gutters, and downspouts.
  • Use berms, downspout extensions, or grading to divert rainwater away from the house.

Improve Drainage

Most damp basement issues are related to insufficient drainage around the foundation. Improving drainage often helps redirect water away before it can seep in:

Install a French Drain

A French drain is a trench along the perimeter of the basement that contains gravel and a perforated pipe to catch water and redirect it away from the house. French drains provide an effective drainage solution.

Regrade Around the Foundation

Making sure the ground slopes away from the foundation at a 5% grade within 10 feet of the house helps keep basement walls dry. Backfill with soil or gravel and pack firmly.

Extend Downspouts

Use downspout extensions to carry rainwater from the roof at least 5 feet away from the foundation. Direct downspouts to drain into your yard or a rain garden.

Apply Waterproofing Sealants

Sealing the interior helps prevent moisture from seeping in through small cracks and pores in the concrete. Consider these waterproofing options:

  • Epoxy sealants form a waterproof barrier and bind concrete together.
  • Urethane injections fill cracks and expand to block water.
  • Coatings like Drylok help seal walls and floors. Apply 2-3 coats with a paintbrush or sprayer.

Improve Interior Drainage

It’s also important to get rid of any moisture that makes its way into the basement. Try these tips:

  • Install a sump pump to collect and pump out groundwater before it penetrates the floor.
  • Slope the basement floor 1/4 inch per foot toward a drain to direct seepage away.
  • Use a dehumidifier to actively remove moisture from the air and reduce humidity.
  • Make sure existing drains are clear and allow water to flow away freely.