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Keep rain, ground water out of basements

With all of the rain we’ve been having in the past month, homeowners need to keep their eyes on the skies — and their basements. Storms and sudden downpours on already-soaked ground can lead to water seepage or flooding in basements.

“Water or moisture in basements comes from two sources,” according to the experts at The Family Handyman. “One source is indoor humidity that condenses on cold surfaces, much like water droplets form on a cold drink on a humid day. The other is water—or water vapor—that comes from outside. Rainwater, melting snow or groundwater can saturate the soil around your foundation and leak in. Water can leak through cracks, or it can penetrate porous concrete or masonry walls in the form of water vapor.”

Foil taped to basement wallBig puddles and soaked carpet usually mean the water has seeped in from outside. But if you have a small amount of water and you’re not sure where it’s coming from, here’s an easy solution: Tape a small square of aluminum foil to your concrete basement wall, and check it in a few days.

“Moisture on the outside surface of the foil indicates high indoor humidity,” says The Family Handyman. “Moisture behind the foil means moisture is leaking through the walls.”

If water is starting to seep in because the ground is too saturated, there are few things you can do while you’re waiting for the weather to change. First, check your gutters. If they’re clogged with debris from winter or spring, water could be pouring over the tops of your gutters and straight into the basement.

Add extensions to the ends of your downspouts. Metal extensions can be painted match your downspouts, but plastic tubing will let you decide where the diverted water will run off.

You’ll also need to check the grading around your house to see if it needs to be built up.

“It’s common for the soil alongside your house to settle over time, creating a moat that collects runoff and directs it down your foundation wall and into the basement,” The Family Handyman says. “Lawn edging and gravel along the foundation can make things worse. Solve the problem by creating a 6-ft.-wide slope that drops about 4 in. away from the foundation.”

If your problem comes from moisture condensation, you can seal leaks in dryer vents with foil tape, keep basement windows closed, and run a dehumidifer. If you have a bathroom in your basement, add a vent fan and use it during showers.

For more information and photos, go to The Family Handyman website.

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