WET BASEMENTS OR CRAWL SPACES–SOURCES OF IMMEDIATE AND LONG-TERM PROBLEMS
Standing water inside and/or seepage into residential crawl spaces and basements can cause frustrating problems for the homeowner. These problems can be both immediate and long term. For example, standing water and mud inside crawl spaces make it very difficult and messy to gain access under the house for inspecting, maintaining, and servicing electrical circuits, drains and water lines, heating and air conditioning, and other utilities.
Wet basements and crawl spaces are sources of high humidity, which can produce surface condensation, mildew and fungi, musty odors, and an unhealthful environment. Such moisture can cause deterioration of floor joists, beams, subflooring, insulation, and electrical-mechanical systems. Prolonged water around the footer and foundation wall can soften the soil and weaken its bearing capacity, increasing the possibility of wall settlement and cracking.
Serious seepage under the foundation footer may erode soil away and cause the wall to drop or crack. Excessive moisture can eventually penetrate the subflooring and buckle the flooring or cause warping, making doors and cabinets difficult to close or open. Since crawl space or basement dampness always moves toward the drier upstairs areas, higher humidity will result in costlier heating and air conditioning bills.
In the case of crawl spaces, if the underflooring insulation collects moisture, or sags from excessive wetness, the heating and air conditioning costs are driven even higher. Finally, wet basements and crawl spaces reduce the value of the house–at least by the amount that would be required to repair the damage and to eliminate the cause of the problem. Some homeowners are reluctant to discuss or admit their water problem, for fear that the publicity of an actual or even a perceived problem would reduce the value of their investment. Homeowners, in such situations, should immediately seek professional assistance in assessing the source and extent of the problem and in finding a remedy.