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Everything You Need to Know About Damp Basements

leaking in damp basement

When you walk down to your basement, are you met with a dank, clammy, musty, and generally unpleasant space? It’s common, but not normal.

Frequently occurring problems like basement condensation and dampness typically happen when water vapor slowly rises from the ground below and makes its way through the foundation right to your floor and walls.

Homeowners throughout Central and Southern Ohio grapple with damp or moist basements from time to time. Some wait and see if the problem will go away on its own, while others reach out to basement experts to help them resolve the issue.

Let’s explore everything you need to know about damp basements – from the causes and signs of dampness to the steps you can take to bring the situation under control.

The Signs Of A Moist Basement

If your house is perpetually damp, it means there’s significant moisture or water in the walls or the floor. Telltale signs of damp or moist basements in your home include:

damp basement problems

5 Common Causes of Basement Dampness

Many things can cause your basement to be damp or leak. The major culprits include:

1. Underground Location

Basements are mainly underground and naturally cooler than the rest of the house. Because of this, cool air isn’t able to hold much moisture as the warm air in the other rooms. When air from upper rooms mixes with air from the basement, it condenses on the basement walls, including uninsulated pipes that run through it.

2. Moisture Rising from the Soil

 leaking pipes and cracking basement walls

In the same vein, if the basement is not waterproofed, moisture could slowly rise from the ground below and make its way through the foundation right to your floor and walls. This is likely to become a problem if your home is built with porous concrete blocks or bricks.

3. Broken Pipes and Wall Cracks

Leaky pipes and cracks on the foundation wall also act as a conduit for moisture and water. French drains, rain gutters, and sewer overflows are other potential causes of dampness. More often than not, they cause water to come into contact with the basement walls and floor.

4. Basement Laundry

If you do laundry in your basement and use a dryer, it will direct much of the moisture from the clothes to your walls. Over time, the moisture will condense and cause your walls to become damp.

5. Windows and Window Wells

If you have basement or egress windows and window wells, these systems can wear down over time and succumb to exterior forces like precipitation and hydrostatic pressure. Water from old or damaged windows and clogged window wells can easily seep inside and lead to leaks and dampness.

What Happens If You Don’t Fix Your Damp Basement?

As you can see, basement moisture is caused by a variety of factors and can lead to a host of unpleasant issues – from smells and mold that impact the health and safety of your home. As well as damaging your possessions, damp basements that are not properly waterproofed also weaken structural supports and make your house unsafe.

If you’re planning to sell a home with a wet basement, you will have difficulties finding willing buyers. Many of them will back off when they realize your basement is damp. So keeping your leaking basement dry should be your number one priority.

How To Fix a Damp Basement

Moist basements shouldn’t cause you sleepless nights. You can quickly fix moisture problems by addressing the root cause. Here are different ways to tackle the issues.

Homeowner Maintenance

gutter cleaning and maintenance

Here are some tasks you can take on yourself or with the guidance of a handyman:

  • Fix Broken Pipes: If the cause is a broken pipe, have a plumber fix it. Make sure pipes are adequately insulated to prevent moisture from condensing and seeping through the walls.
  • Use Ventilation Fans: These fixtures are essential in your baths and kitchen to control moisture. Make sure they’re venting outside. Check your heating and ventilation system, ensuring it’s sized correctly and is removing moisture from indoor air.
  • Clean and Maintain Exterior Drainage: Keeping external drainage systems like your gutters and downspouts clear and in good condition is key to directing excess rainwater away from your home and preventing moisture buildup.

Professional Basement Waterproofing

The best way to nip seeping water and basement moisture in the bud is with professionally installed basement waterproofing solutions. These include:

crew installing basement waterproofing solutions
  • Interior Drainage: A drainage system placed in your basement’s sub-floor catches water from the walls, floor, and cove (where the walls and floor meet).
  • Sump Pump: The water collected from the interior drain is directed to a sump pump. This system then pumps the water out of the basement and away from your home’s foundation.
  • Wall Vapor Barrier: A vapor barrier – a plastic sheet similar to swimming pool liner – placed on the walls prevents liquid and vapor intrusion. If any water leaks through the walls, it runs behind the liner and down to the interior drain system.
  • Dehumidifier: An energy-efficient dehumidifier keeps any excess moisture at bay. This unit also cleans and filters the air and reduces odors.

OBA Pros Can Rid Your Home of A Damp Basement

Many homeowners think dampness, odors, and other problems simply come with the territory of owning a house with a basement. These issues are not uncommon, but they’re also not healthy or safe for your home and family. You no longer have to live with basement moisture and damage.

For almost 15 years, our expert team at Ohio Basement Authority has helped homeowners throughout Central and Southern Ohio keep their basements dry and their homes healthy. Contact us today to book your free inspection and estimate, and you can experience the same excellence and peace of mind.


Yes, waterproofing can significantly reduce dampness by preventing water from entering your basement through walls, floors, and joints.

Absolutely. The moisture from a damp basement can rise through the rest of your home, causing damage and promoting the growth of harmful molds and bacteria.

Yes, a damp basement can be harmful as it promotes the growth of mold and mildew, which can lead to respiratory issues, allergies, and other health problems.


Holly Richards-Purpura

Holly Richards-Purpura

Content Writer

Holly is a Content Writer for Groundworks who has written and edited web content for the foundation services industry for almost 10 years. With a background in journalism, her passion for the written word runs deep. Holly lives in Columbus, OH, with her husband. Along with educating homeowners, she also has a big heart for the Big Apple.

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