Top 5 Basement Maintenance Tips
Our tips on how to protect and maintain your basement
As a homeowner, you spend a lot of time maintaining your home. You keep your yard looking nice, you check your roof and other exterior features, but have you ever considered checking your basement? Basements go largely unnoticed and tend to be the source of many home maintenance problems. Water damage is the most common problem, but there are many potentially costly problems that you can avoid.
If you are like most homeowners, you rarely check your basement. A few simple routine maintenance tasks can save you $1,000’s in both emergency and longer-term repairs. Follow this simple list and save yourself time and money.
1. Clean Your Rain Gutters
Yep, you read correctly. Rain gutters can cause a lot of basement water damage if not properly maintained. Clean your gutters once or twice a year. If you have a heavy fall (lots of leaves), clean your gutters twice a year. Clean once after the leaves have fallen and again at the end of spring before the heavy rains begin. Clogged gutters do not allow your roof-water to drain properly and usually results in standing water around the perimeter of your home. Pooling water around the perimeter of your home usually leads to water damage in your basement. It can take years to notice, but the water will find a way into your basement.
2. Install Water Leak Alerts
Checking every corner of your basement for water leaks on a regular basis is unrealistic. Installing inexpensive water leak alert detectors in the critical areas of your basement will provide peace of mind and give you a quick heads-up to clean up a water leak. It is critical to fix and clean up a water leak as fast as possible. Standing water or even excess moisture can lead to mold and other problems. Installing water leak detectors in laundry rooms, utility rooms near a water heater and other key locations in your basement will protect against costly longer-term water damage.
3. Use Water Absorption Kits
If you work away from home or travel a lot, prepping critical areas of your basement with water absorption kits could save you $1,000’s in repairs. Use the kits to create a barrier around areas that are most likely to leak, like water heaters, under sinks, and near exposed plumbing. The kits will contain small leaks and slow down large, more critical leaks. The kits are handy to keep around for water emergencies. A water absorption kit can give you enough time to respond to a water emergency and stop the leak before it causes additional damage.
4. Check Your Home Lot Grading
When we buy a home, we rarely consider the slope of the lot, or the grading around the house. If you didn’t know, grading is the degree at which the ground around your home slopes away from the foundation. As a basic rule, the ground should slope down about 6 inches in the first 10 feet all the way around your home. Grading allows heavy rain and excess water to drain into your yard and other areas away from your home. As we mentioned, standing water around the perimeter of your home usually leads to water damage in your basement.
5. Seal Your Basement Exterior Walls
Even if your basement is unfinished, you can and should seal the concrete exterior walls. You can find a suitable sealant at any hardware store that sells professional painting products. You should also seal up cracks and holes. Properly sealed concrete will provide an extra barrier from outside water trying to leak its way into your basement. A protective sealant will not stop a long term water leak, but it can redirect a slower leak and force the water down below your basement. Your basement should have 6 to 12 inches of gravel below the foundation. The gravel allows excess water to drain away from your basement foundation and into the ground.
Pro Tip: Consider replacing your carpet with vinyl flooring. Your carpet and padding act like a sponge and soak up excess moisture. Basement carpet is prone to mold. Most homeowners have no idea that the mold exists. Replacing carpet with vinyl flooring will prevent mold from forming. You can use area rugs on top of your vinyl floors if you prefer the feel of carpet.