All you have to do is finish your basement to enjoy the extra living space it offers. However, moisture loves to attack basements, and if you don’t take the right preventative measures, moisture and mold can quickly ruin your new basement renovation.
Moisture is not always obvious. Even if your basement seems dry, there can still be a problem that could affect your whole house. The smallest amount of dampness can become a home for mold and mildew, which can aggravate allergies and cause breathing problems in addition to damaging your drywall or flooring.
There are a number of sources of moisture you’ll need to check if you want to keep your basement dry.
The biggest enemy of a dry basement is water that seeps in through cracks in the walls and floors. It is the nature of concrete to crack over time and if you own an older home that was never properly waterproofed, those cracks are an invitation for water penetration.
Even if you have not yet suffered a water leak from a cracked wall, that doesn’t mean your basement will stay dry. When the warmer air in your home contacts cold basement walls, condensation forms and that brings in moisture. Concrete is porous, which is why many basements have efflorescence on the foundation walls from long term moisture seepage.
Waterproofing your basement is the first step to protecting your investment. Your home can be waterproofed externally or even internally. Waterproofing from the exterior of the house is the ideal solution however it can be costly and in cities, sometimes difficult to achieve due to proximity of neighboring homes or other inhibiting factors (decks, low porches, landscaping, etc.)
Interior waterproofing does not stop the water but mitigates its effects by adding a weeping tile and a sump pump to carry the water away and ultimately eject it to an outside lawn or garden. Adding a backflow water valve to your home is also a wise decision to prevent city drains from backing up into your basement. Check with your municipality because sometimes there are government rebates for adding a sump pump and/or backflow valve to your home, making the investment a little easier on your wallet and possibly your home insurance as well.
Finally, the addition of a subfloor can add several benefits to a basement floor that would otherwise be directly installed on top of the concrete. First, a subfloor is typically channeled on the bottom so that in the event of water entering the basement, that water would flow to the floor drain, saving your flooring from damage. Second, some subfloor products have a built-in layer of insulation which will help keep your feet warmer when you are below grade. This makes the room more comfortable to be in and can save you money by not having to invest in supplementary heating units.
So, if you are considering turning your basement into a bright and beautiful living space, make sure you factor in a budget for waterproofing and subflooring to make your space more enjoyable and to protect your investment.