In a recent article, I described ways to address basement water entry problems from the exterior of a house. While these exterior remedies work, many homeowners balk at the challenges involved. Exterior solutions to basement water entry are expensive. Moreover, no one wants to excavate all the soil around the perimeter of their house, especially if they have features like porches, patios, walkways, and valuable perennial plantings.
In this article, I’ll discuss wet-basement solutions that can be implemented from the interior of your home.
Several details are missing from old homes
Older homes often lack features that can help keep a basement dry—features like exterior footing drains, asphaltic dampproofing on the exterior of basement walls, and sub-slab polyethylene. Retrofitting all of these features is expensive—and fortunately, not always necessary.
If you’re working from the interior, a step-by-step approach is often best. Some basements are just a little damp and musty, while others experience regular water entry events that form puddles. Basements with water entry problems will need more elaborate solutions that basements that are merely damp.
How water accumulates in basements
Water can enter a basement in liquid form—through cracks in the walls, cracks in the slab, or the crack at the perimeter of the slab. This liquid water might originate as rain, melting snow, or a natural spring that flows (seasonally or constantly) through the soil around or under your house.
Water can also enter a basement in the form of vapor—which is to say, moisture may be continuously evaporating from the interior surface of a damp concrete wall or a damp slab. Even if these concrete surfaces don’t feel damp to the touch, this type of continuous evaporation may be occurring—it’s just occurring so fast that the interior of the concrete feels dry.