The sandy soil here in Atlanta is nearly ideal for foundations, including basements. It provides drainage, and since it doesn’t hold water, it doesn’t contract or expand with changing weather conditions. That’s not quite the case in Athens and Columbus, where the clay in the soil can soak up water and expand, pressing against basement walls. Or when it’s dry, the contracting soil can cause settling, which is just as disruptive to home foundations.
Whatever the soil conditions, real estate professionals in our area know that a damp basement is not at all attractive for potential home buyers. That’s why it’s wise to thoroughly inspect a home for basement issues. To help in that effort, here are our six steps to identify basement problems and what to do about them.
1. Review the Underlying Structural Supports
The foundation holds up the entire home. It’s critical that it’s maintained in excellent order and that any shifting or movement is discovered and corrected. That shifting will cause interior and exterior cracks in the walls of the home as well as the foundation. It will also show up as sagging or tilted floors, as well as doors and windows that have trouble closing and opening. Excess water can even cause rotting of support beams. A basement repair specialist can identify exactly what’s causing the problems and provide options for repair.
2. Look for Moisture and Standing Water
Inspect basement walls and the floor for any moisture or signs of water such as efflorescence, which is a chalky white substance, or mold and mildew. You may even find standing water in corners or low-lying areas. Also look for cracks or bowing, bulging walls.
Repair options include basement waterproofing with an interior drainage system as well as a sump pump to remove the water. There are also systems to fix those bulging walls. If there’s considerable mold, you’ll need to take care of that as well. It’s best to work with a foundation repair expert on all these items.
3. Inspect the Insulation Throughout the Home
It’s important that the home also has sufficient insulation to help with heating and cooling costs. Inspecting the basement can readily reveal the level of insulation around the walls and could also allow you to review HVAC ductwork for insulation. Waterproof insulation panels are ideal for basements as they set up a barrier and are protected from any water damage. This is also a good time to review the attic insulation, adding or replacing insulation as needed.
4. Search for Pest Damage
The moisture in a basement arrives through gaps and cracks in the walls. That same moisture attracts pests, and the openings allow their entry. Look for nests, ant trails, termite mud tubes, and rodent droppings. All these set up unhealthy conditions, and the termites can damage support beams. It’s best to seal the cracks that are letting in moisture and critters. You may also need to call in a professional exterminator.
5. Test Appliances in the Basement
If there are signs of water in the basement, that water has more than likely come into contact with the basement appliances. This could include the water heater, washer, dryer, furnace, and air conditioning equipment. Depending on conditions, you may even be able to make out a high-water line on the walls and the appliances. That’s the level of the last flooding event in the basement.
If that’s the case, the best way forward is to have a technician test the appliances as well as the electrical system, as the outlets may also have been submerged. They will develop a list of needed repairs and replacements.
6. Evaluate Exterior Water Drainage Systems
Leaking plumbing could account for some of the water in the basement. But it’s more likely that the water is coming from the outside. That usually means that the landscaping isn’t properly graded to allow water to flow away from the foundation. On top of that are the gutters and downspouts that may be clogged and overflowing, dumping water from the roof directly onto the entire foundation.
It’s best to find a gutter and downspout professional to correct any issues including installing downspout extensions that fully route the water away from the foundation. It’s also worthwhile to trim trees and shrubs around the house and remove any with roots that are impinging on the foundation.
We Can Help
As you consider any basement issues in properties in the Atlanta area you may be considering as an investment, contact the professionals at AquaGuard Foundation Solutions. We can provide a free inspection and repair estimate.