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Out Of Dankness: When Your Basement Has A Leak

by Perry Chapman

When you open the basement door to retrieve your holiday decor, the last thing you want to find is a musty basement. While basements aren't typically known for their fresh scent, a strong, mildewy aroma is a clear indicator that there is water somewhere it doesn't belong. Here are some of the leading causes of the foul stench in your basement. The sooner you identify the problem, the faster you can escape the terrible smell.

Water Is Seeping In Through The Walls

The fact that your basement is below ground level makes ground water seeping through your prime suspect.

What It Looks Like: You can detect water seepage through your walls by an obvious puddle, but you will also see clues like flaking paint, cracks in your foundation, and discolored walls. 

If you have a sump pump, it may be clogged, have lost power, or simply stopped working. If it has already snowed and thawed, the excess water could be to blame for overworking your basement's drain tile system pump. (You may need a second one.)

How To Fix It: Check the downspouts to your gutters to make sure they are expelling water away from your home. Have a drain tile system installed, or have your existing sump pump serviced if applicable.

You Have A Plumbing Leak Upstairs

There could be a leak coming from pipes or appliances downstairs, and you never even realized there was a problem.

What It Looks Like: Look for wet or uneven surface areas on your ceiling. This would indicate water damage. You may get "lucky" and find an obvious puddle, too.

How To Fix It: You should be able to locate the leak once you associate the damage to a specific section of your house. Obviously a plumber or an appliance repair service will be your next step. In the meantime, if your leak is in the bathroom, try turning off the water supply to that restroom. If the leak is from an appliance, like your refrigerator or your washer, turn the appliance off.

An Appliance Stored In Your Basement Is Leaking

When you store appliances like an extra freezer, your washer, or your boiler in the basement, it is hard to detect irregular behavior right away.

What It Looks Like: Leaks coming out from the appliance, corrosion or rust on the appliance, or an appliance that is no longer operating correctly (or at all).

How To Fix It: Your appliance may not be operating correctly if the power is tripped. Try resetting the circuit breaker first. If you are dealing with a broken or leaking boiler, do not poke at any corrosion. A boiler repair service should be hired to fix it, for your safety.

A leak in your basement should never be ignored, as it can lead to mold buildup or the deterioration of your foundation, and make your home unsafe to live in. Dealing with the problem as soon as you can will prevent further damage.