Basement Maintenance 101 Tips for a Dry and Comfortable Space

Kevin Brown

Basements require unique maintenance compared to the rest of your home. This article provides tips for keeping your basement dry and comfortable. From managing moisture to upgrading flooring, here’s everything you need to know.

Basement Maintenance 101 Tips for a Dry and Comfortable Space

How to Keep Your Basement Dry

Excess moisture and water leaks are common problems with basements, which can lead to mold growth and a musty smell.

Figure Out Where the Water is Coming From

The main cause of water in the basement is rainfall. Identify the source by examining the cove joints, wall and floor cracks or holes, and windows and doors.

Other possible causes of basement water include broken pipes, water overflowing from sinks or tubs, and sewer backups.

Prevent Basement Flooding

If you’re dealing with flooding rather than a bit of water on the walls or floors, take immediate action. The top causes of basement flooding include faulty sump pumps, broken pipes, or insufficient waterproofing systems.

Waterproof Your Basement

If you want to prevent basement flooding or create a usable space, waterproofing is essential. It involves installing a floor drain and sump pump to remove water and drain tile to redirect it. Additionally, seal the walls and assess landscaping, windows, and doors.

Waterproofing is a big task, so consider hiring professionals for assistance.

In terms of basement maintenance, it’s important to address humidity and mold issues.

Along with water leaks, excess humidity in the basement can lead to mold growth on drywall, rugs, wood, and other surfaces.

Controlling Basement Humidity

If your basement smells musty, it’s a sign you have mold or mildew, so controlling humidity levels should be a priority.

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One of the easiest ways to keep humidity levels in check is to use a dehumidifier. Try to keep the humidity level around 50% in the summer and 30% in the winter.

Mold Removal

To find mold in your basement, look near areas prone to water leaks. Mold can look black, green, or white. As long as the mold isn’t extensive, it’s a job you can handle yourself.

To remove basement mold, use a mold-killing product or bleach spray. Then, remove the mold. Call experts if the mold covers large areas of the wall, floor, or ceiling.

Caring for a basement floor:

Unfinished basements have concrete floors. However, there are other flooring options if the basement is waterproofed and dry. Vinyl and epoxy coatings are good choices since basements often leak.

Cleaning a concrete basement floor:

Clean concrete basement floors once a year to get rid of dust, dirt, and mold.

Epoxy Coating for Basement Floors

Epoxy basement floor coatings waterproof and enhance the appearance of your concrete floor. There are three types to choose from: water-based, solvent-based, and solid.

You can apply an epoxy floor coating yourself, but it may take 3-6 days. If you prefer, hire a contractor to do the job.

Keeping Your Basement Warm

If your basement is used as living space, keep it warm with a heating source and insulation for the walls and ceiling. Make sure to comply with local building codes.

Adding Ceiling Insulation to a Basement

If you have a heated basement, you can add ceiling insulation to retain heat. But if your basement doesn’t have ventilation or heating, don’t add ceiling insulation. It can reduce airflow and lead to mold problems.

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Insulate basement walls if it’s heated or used as living space. Without insulation, heat will leak through small wall cracks.

Refer to local building codes, as many zones require a certain insulation thickness. You can choose between foam or rigid foam insulation.

Basements are cold in winter. Without a heat source, fully utilizing your livable basement may be difficult.

Many ways to heat a basement exist, including space heaters, baseboard or wall heaters, wood stoves, pellet stoves, and radiant floor heating. Insulating the walls and ceilings and using leakproof windows will prevent warm air from escaping.

A new or unfinished basement typically has concrete floors and block walls. Upgrading the basement to a living space requires compliance with local building codes.

Adding a basement to an existing structure is a challenging task. Though it offers benefits such as creating additional space and increasing resale value, the cost might not justify it.

To add a basement to your home, you’ll need permits and a reliable contractor. The contractor will lift your house to pour the basement walls and replace it after construction.

Creating Safe Basement Bedrooms:

Basements offer the opportunity to increase the number of bedrooms in your house. However, these bedrooms must meet IRC safety codes.

The International Residential Code mandates two egress methods for a basement: a bedroom door and a window for fire escape. The egress window should be at least 20 inches wide and 24 inches high, with a window well large enough for emergency crews to access the home.

Additionally, there are size requirements for basement bedrooms.

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