Most basements, because they are built into the ground, present the possibility of invasive water, making what was once a dry basement into a wet basement. This is because water in the soil can put constant pressure on basement walls. Also, water follows the path of least resistance and over time can find its way into a basement.
With real estate transactions there are more problems with wet foundations and basements than any other physical problem in a house. Therefore, it's important when buying a house with a basement to check for signs of dampness in the basement. Also, if you want to sell a house, you need to get your basement water problems fixed the right way. As the buyer, the seller may be unaware of the water problems, or they may choose to not disclose the issue.
Signs of a Damp or Wet Basement
- Water stains along walls or floor. This could be caused by something simple such as an overflowing laundry tub or it could be a result of water seeping in through basement windows, the walls or the floor.
- Musty odor or damp smell. Excess moisture in a basement can cause an unmistakable smell.
- Mold. It could be colored black, brown, yellow or green, and you won't know for certain if it's mold without testing it. Often the northwest corner of a house is known as a "cold corner" and susceptible to developing mold.
- Efflorescence. This condition produces a white or sometimes grayish ash on the walls. Sometimes it sparkles. Efflorescence is caused by salt deposits left behind by evaporating water.
- Spalling. When water gets inside the surface of concrete, brick or stone, salt deposits from the water cause the surface to flake away, peel or pop off.