Improving the indoor air quality and reclaiming the space

The American Society of Home Inspectors estimates that 60 percent of U.S. homes have wet basements. That means that more than half of American homes could have indoor air quality issues brought on by too much moisture. Whether it’s from subsurface seepage, rain-related or excess humidity, problems that start in the basement eventually have an impact on the upstairs. While it might not be their most used space, encouraging customers to take care of excess moisture issues on their lowest level, can go a long way to creating a more comfortable and healthier environment throughout the house.

If you have a customer that is not familiar with signs of a “wet” basement, ask them if they see the following (or better still, do an inspection together):
- water stains or dampness on the walls or floor?
- condensation on the windows?
- a musty smell?
- peeling or bubbling paint on the walls?
- rot in the corner boards?
- rusty baseboard nails?
- rust around a steel support column?
- curling or loose floor tiles?
- efflorescence - white powdery substance on brick walls?
- rusting water heater, dryer, washer, or other appliance platforms?

It’s important that homeowners understand that excess moisture, condensation, and high humidity levels in their basement can lead to a number of problems including structural damage, mold & mildew, as well as health issues.

Simple steps to reduce basement moisture

As a contractor or home renovator, you can show customers how you diagnose where the excess moisture is coming from and walk them through preventative steps needed to reduce it.
  1. Check for leaks in the foundation walls. Fill any cracks. Regrade soil around foundation walls to prevent water from moving toward the foundation. Direct downspouts far away from basement walls with downspout extensions and clean gutters.
  2. Insulate exterior walls to prevent condensation. In colder climates, insulating basement walls will save energy and reduce their heating bill. (Don't cover the walls with insulation if water is leaking in from outside as it will create a potential mold problem).
  3. Insulate pipes - condensation dripping from cold pipes can contribute to basement water problems.
  4. Seal leaky dryer vents with foil tape (not duct tape) to prevent unwanted humid air from entering the basement.
  5. If there is a basement bathroom, ensure it has a vent. Stress that they should turn it on during every shower.
  6. Advise them to keep basement windows closed during humid weather.
  7. Review the benefits of an effective humidity control system or dehumidifier.

Energy-efficient moisture control systems for long-term maintenance
Once they are rid of the preventable sources of moisture, they have taken a big step towards improving the overall air quality of their home and protecting their investment.
The next step is adding a dehumidifier or moisture control and ventilation system that will maintain the optimum humidity level in the basement year-round.
Dehumidifiers use a lot of electricity to operate, do not exchange the stale air or ventilate the basement and, in most cases, they need to be monitored and emptied on a regular basis.

A Humidex basement unit, properly installed, will improve indoor air quality by exhausting stale air and maintain humidity control ventilation for the entire home, eliminating musty odors and other airborne pollutants, such as fumes from paints, furnishings, carpeting, and household cleaning products and prevent costly mold and mildew damage to stored items, furniture, and clothing. It will also recirculate warm air from upstairs to the basement, improving heating and air conditioning efficiency.

Economical to operate 24/7, 365 days a year, a Humidex moisture control and ventilation system uses a fraction of the electricity that a dehumidifier uses. The energy-efficient Humidex units cost less than $5 a month in electricity compared to a dehumidifier that costs 10x that amount per month.

While it may not be their main living area, solving wet basement issues not only helps your clients enjoy their home now, taking care of this key area will help maintain or increase the value of their home in the long run.