Suggestions For Dealing With Condensation In Your Basement
If your wet basement often has water running down the walls or puddles on the floor, and it gets worse after rain, then you'll probably need to call in a basement waterproofing contractor to figure out the problem and fix it. If your basement is just damp, or if it has water drops on the walls and pipes, the problem may be high humidity, especially if the problem is worse in the summer. If humidity and condensation are the culprits, then you might be able to solve the problem yourself. Here are some things you can try.
Keep Basement Windows Closed
You may be tempted to open the basement windows to get rid of stale odors trapped inside. However, this can make your wet basement worse, especially in the summer. Warm air can hold a lot of moisture. When the air contacts something cool, the moisture from the air condenses on the cool object and forms beads of water. Since your basement is underground, it is naturally cooler than the outside air in the summer. That's why you'll see drops of water on pipes and drops of water running down the walls. When you open the windows, the problem gets much worse since even more warm air rushes into the basement. Plus, since the windows are at ground level, there is danger of water from the gutter system, lawn hose, or rain getting inside the window and adding to the humidity in the basement.
Add Insulation To Pipes And Walls
One way to keep condensation from forming on cool pipes and concrete basement walls is to cover them with insulation. However, before you go to the expense of putting insulation on the walls, you want to be sure condensation is the problem. If water is seeping through the walls from the outside, the insulation will be ruined, and you won't solve your wet basement problem either. If you're not sure why your basement is always wet or damp, then call a contractor for an inspection before you invest a lot of money in DIY solutions. If condensation is the cause, then insulation may help because it covers the cool surfaces in your basement so warm air can't contact them and create water drops.
Increase Air Circulation
Another thing that might help is to increase the air circulation in the basement. You can do this by adding vents to the outside. This is especially helpful if you have a shower or laundry in your basement since the vent pulls humidity out of the space. If you plan to convert the basement into a living area, you may want to connect it to your home's HVAC so it is climate controlled. This will keep humidity levels constant. If you just want to use your basement for storage, then a large fan might help. Or you could even install a dehumidifier to help pull humidity out of the air. Be sure air can circulate freely in the room when you try these methods. If you have clutter stacked everywhere, air won't be able to circulate well enough to dry out the space.
If your wet basement is caused by condensation, then you're lucky because the solution is usually more affordable than waterproofing your basement to protect it from outside water. However, it may take some work to lower the humidity levels enough to make a difference. Condensation seems like a minor problem, but think of how much moisture condenses on the side of a glass filled with ice. Condensation can keep your basement too wet for a living space and it can make it smell like mildew until you find a solution to the problem.