Here in Alabama, Tennessee, and surrounding areas, the COVID-19 stay-at-home restrictions had us all looking for more space, particularly private space inside our homes. In that situation, basements came into their own with the possibility of adding a family room, home office, workout area, or even a fan cave. Basements can also be a great place to set up a home emergency shelter when those all-too-frequent hurricanes and tornadoes roar through our area.
More space and shelter make basements an attractive (if not must-have) feature for home buyers. However, if they need galoshes to wade through the water in the basement, you can bet that they will be strongly considering another home—any other home.
A basement can either add value to a home or subtract in a big way. Here’s our list of the six steps you should follow to identify basement problems.
1. Inspect the Home’s Structure
It all starts with the soil and the home’s foundation. In Alabama, the soil and soil erosion depends on whether the home is on the Gulf Coast or further north. The foundation supports the entire house, and any problems with walls or interior beams are going to have a significant impact.
Look for cracked bricks or concrete, wall and floor gaps, bowed basement walls, moisture problems in the basement, and vertical, horizontal, diagonal, or stair-step wall cracks. Even the slightest signs can point to the future development of major problems.
If you discover indications of structural damage, it’s best to seek out professional experts for advice.
2. Take a Deep Dive in Search of Water Issues
Basement moisture and flooding offers a glimpse of future, if not current, structural issues. It also brings with it mildew, mold, pests, and wood rot. It further destroys anything else that gets wet on a frequent basis from rugs and carpeting to drywall and insulation.
Repair isn’t easy but it can be enduring, add value to the home, and attract home buyers. The best approach is complete basement waterproofing including an interior drainage system, sump pump, and dehumidifier. Of course, to complete this complex task, it’s critical to hire the best basement professionals who are truly experienced experts.
3. Dig Into the Home’s Top-to-Bottom Insulation
Energy costs can rise and fall with the cost of natural gas and electricity. What you don’t want is sending those costs through the home’s roof and walls due to poor insulation. The easiest way to dig into the home’s insulation is by inspecting the attic, the HVAC vents, and the basement.
If you find limited or damaged attic insulation, you can have it readily replaced. For the basement, it’s best to use rigid waterproof insulation panels that create a vapor barrier and seal against water.
4. Watch for Creepy Crawly Critters
Once a basement develops cracks along with the entry of moisture, creepy crawly critters are not long behind in finding a way into the home. That includes rodents as well as insects, from ants to crickets and termites to spiders. The termites bring a special punch along with them, boring into any wood and endangering the structural supports.
Watch for entry points, nests, droppings, and damage. Seal all cracks and gaps that form those entry points. This will also start addressing the basement moisture problems. It’s also best to call in an expert exterminator.
5. Inspect Basement Washer, Dryer, Water Heater, and HVAC
Basement flooding not only brings mold, mildew, pests, and wood rot, it also can cause significant damage to the appliances and HVAC system. Replacement costs can run into thousands of dollars.
During your inspection, look for telltale signs of rust as well as water lines on the walls and appliances that point out the high water level from past flooding events. When you spot these signs, don’t hesitate to bring in an expert home inspector to fully assess the level of damage. A technician can also test the appliances and other systems to build a full list of required repairs.
6. Examine Gutters, Downspouts, and Landscaping
Unless the home has a spring in the basement or leaky plumbing, all the water that collects there comes from the outside. That includes rainwater that gathers on the roof and is collected in the gutters and routed through the downspouts. If those are clogged, the water will fall directly on the foundation. That builds up hydrostatic pressure that creates foundation cracks, allowing water into the basement.
The home’s landscaping also plays a role in routing the water away from the foundation. Then tree and shrub roots can also play a part in altering the soil’s characteristics, drying it out in summer, causing settling and creating more cracks.
We Can Help
As you consider any basement issues in properties you may be considering for investment, contact the professionals at AFS Foundation and Waterproofing Specialists. We can provide a free inspection and repair estimate.