If you have an unfinished basement, or one with stone walls, you may have noticed moisture on your basement walls. If you’ve noticed you have damp basement walls, you’re probably wondering why they’re damp. The answer can be guessed by most: it has something to do with condensation. The question is, how does that work, and how do you prevent it? Let’s take a deeper look.
Why Do I Have Damp Basement Walls?
There are two primary reasons why you have damp basement walls. We’ll take a moment to look at both, as they both have slightly different solutions.
The first reason is that your walls are collecting condensation. Condensation is caused by a cold surface being exposed to warm, moist air. You surely know that steam is caused by heat, which speeds up the particles in the water to the point that it rises above – or into – air that is slightly colder than it.
This is generally the same principle that makes humidity, and other air moisture, more prevalent in warm environments. However, cold water has slower-moving particles and cannot stay afloat in the air. Therefore, when moisture in warm air comes into contact with a cold surface, it loses its heat and settles on the cold surface, leaving it damp.
The second reason why you might have damp basement walls is that you’re getting moisture leakage from outdoors. This is fairly common and is caused by moisture in the ground seeping through cracks in the basement wall.
Basement walls are typically made with stone bricks, clay bricks, and some kind of brick adhesive, like cement. Stone and brick walls are pretty good at keeping out unwanted elements from the outdoors. However, one place they fall short is in insulation and longevity in moisture-blocking. After years, or even decades, of supporting the weight of a home, stone and brick walls begin getting small cracks. These cracks are usually tiny – most of them unnoticeable. However, this doesn’t mean that they have no effect. Moisture from the earth surrounding your basement walls can – and will – find their way through these cracks and onto your basement walls.
Is This a Problem?
Damp basement walls may not seem like a big deal. However, moisture can lead to numerous problems in your home environment’s safety and integrity. Why is that?
- Moisture can lead to mold. Mold causes problems in many ways, including, but not limited to, damaging a home’s wooden structure, damaging belongings, causing undesirable smells, causing long-term lung problems, and potentially risking the safety of your food. Even mold that isn’t in direct contact with food can put off spores into the air, affecting food from a distance.
- Moisture can warm your home’s floors and wooden framework. Even if it doesn’t cause mold (somehow), moisture in your basement can rise up into the wooden structure of your home, making it unstable and weak. We don’t have to explain how a weak structure is unsafe.
- Moreover, moisture can invite and encourage pests and parasites. Where there is moisture, there is a water source for pests, including all kinds of bugs and mice. Furthermore, mice bring parasites, which also love water.