In many older Toronto homes, the basement is a place in the house that is avoided unless it’s absolutely necessary. It’s damp down there, and there are centipedes and spiders lurking at every turn. But you still need to do the laundry, so most of us gather our courage to get in and out of there as fast as we possibly can. But the basement doesn’t need to be a scary place! With a few tips to avoid water damage in the basement, you can get back to enjoying your house – the whole house!
Prevent Flooding and Water Damage
Most of the time, what is happening outside the house has a direct effect on what’s happening on the inside. For example, basement flooding is often related to the condition of the soil around the house. It should be sloping away from the house to keep water from pooling around the foundation. Many homeowners are under the impression that this is a “one and done” event, but because of changes due to erosion and settling, you should inspect the soil around the exterior of your home to make sure it is still sloping away from the house.
While inspecting the house from the outside, have a good look for cracks in the foundation, especially around any windows in the basement. Small cracks can be sealed with waterproof caulking. For any larger cracks, you should contact a professional to evaluate your foundation for signs of a larger or more serious problem.
Another common source of water in the basement is the roof, and more specifically the gutter system that keeps rain water flowing from that roof. As the trees shed the last leaves of the season, it’s time to make sure the eaves troughs have been thoroughly cleared of debris. This will allow water to flow freely through the troughs and out the downspout. The downspout is another area of concern, with far too many of them flowing way too close to the house. Ideally, the downspout should be discharging at least a metre away from the foundation of your house.
Mould Growth and Professional Removal
The smell of mould and mildew is unpleasant enough to let you know there is a problem in the basement. If there are any signs of water damage (efflorescence, wood rot, etc.) that haven’t been properly addressed, there is a good chance that mould is also present. Mould can be harmless, or it can be a serious health hazard, it depends on the species. If the area is small, you can try to clean it yourself with gloves, a mask and adequate ventilation. For any areas of mould you find that are larger than 1m2 you should engage the services of a mould removal company. The potential for danger is simply too high to leave it to chance.
A few preventative measures can keep a small problem from becoming a basement disaster. If you already have a problem with flood damage or mould in your basement, then call a professional. We have yet to see a problem that is too big to fix.