Fighting the humidity in basements

Engineers have come a long way in improving the indoor air quality and comfort for inhabitants of houses. Whether it is a double story house or triple story house the HVAC systems and all the design measures ensure controlled environment yet there is one portion of the house or building that faces problems, the basement. Having a room in a basement, I have been searching for ways to solve certain problems that are very minor or not at all present in the rest of the house. Some of the problems are that there is a musty and warm atmosphere in basements during summer, while there is an extremely cold and clammy environment in basements in winter. In either weather the basement often remains humid. There are two instant and easy solutions that everyone thinks about:

  • Getting a dehumidifier
  • Membrane or coating on inside

Getting a dehumidifier seems like a good option but there are issues associated with that too. Dehumidification can be used as a means of reducing the humidity and odor in a basement, but it is not a permanent or complete solution. In fact, if a dehumidifier is used in a basement with moisture problems, it may cause greater damage. By drying out the basement air, moisture is drawn into the basement more rapidly causing efflorescence of concrete and further damage to interior finishes.

Combating basement moisture problem with a membrane or coating on the inside seems effective, however, the water is still present and eventually these systems deteriorate or simply move the water to another pathway into the basement. So what can be done to solve the problem completely? Upon further research I have understood that we can not remove the water but can channel it for our benefit. The two most important measures are depicted below:


 Appropriate Gutters, Downspouts and Accurate Grading:

A great number of basement water problems can be solved by the method as follows

  1. Sloping the grade away from houses
  2. By handling rainwater and surface drainage properly using gutters and downspouts with extenders or splashblocks to carry the water away from the foundation.

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Adequate Exterior or Interior Drainage System:                                

Exterior Drainage:

It is expensive to do this but it’s the most effective means of water proofing. The conventional exterior drainage systems use

  • Free-draining sand in the backfill.
  • Drain tile placed beside or on top of the footing.
  • A minimum of 12 inches of coarse aggregate should be placed around the drain tile.

4

Interior Drainage System:

There are a couple of ways to install drainage system inside the basement. Most of them consist of either a normal or perforated drain pipe on the perimeter collecting water and dumping it to sump pump.5

Conclusion:

If we want a comfortable less humid environment in the basements we should give more importance to the drainage of water and should combine that with the use of Dehumidifiers to get the best possible result.

For more information visit these links:

http://www.familyhandyman.com/basement/drying-a-wet-basement/view-all

http://www.buildingscience.com/documents/digests/bsd-103-understanding-basements?topic=doctypes/digests

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One thought on “Fighting the humidity in basements

  1. Pingback: Quick Tips for Basement Humidity Control in Calgary

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