If you've recently purchased a home with a basement, you're probably excited about the various possibilities a basement provides. For instance, you can remodel it into a separate living space for an older teen, retired parent, or even as a rental to bring in a bit of extra income. However, what you might not realize is that basements often have water-related issues that have a variety of causes. The most common culprits are exterior runoff, condensation, groundwater swelling, and substandard drain systems. Leaky basements threaten the structural integrity of your home, often causing foundations to rot and erode. They can also play host to fungal spores, which can be harmful to the health. 

One of the most obvious signs of wet basement syndrome is water on the floor that comes back even after it's been thoroughly mopped up, but there are other indications that your basement is too damp. Following are four of them. 

A Musty Odor

A musty odor in the basement area should never be ignored -- it's an indication of the existence of mold and mildew colonies and a sure sign that the atmospheric humidity levels in your basement are too high. If mold or mildew is discovered in your basement, it is essential that they be removed as soon as possible and that the area be cleaned and remodeled using techniques designed to discourage fungal growth in the future. Keep in mind that if you have toxic black mold populations in your basement, the situation warrants calling in a mold remediation specialist instead of trying to deal with it yourself. 

Water Stains 

Periodically performing a visual inspection of your basement walls, ceiling, and floor for any signs of water stains may provide an early alert that your basement is having water issues. Because water is clear, it actually doesn't stain surfaces -- but it does cause discoloration in existing surfaces. Look for spots that are a bit darker than their surroundings -- this is a classic sign of water damage. Besides doing periodic inspections, keep a sharp eye out during incidental trips to your basement to ensure that it's not experiencing water damage. 

Efflorescence -- or Salt Deposits -- on the Floor 

Most basement floors are made of concrete for obvious reasons -- after all, wood flooring is likely to warp in environments high in atmospheric humidity, Always make a point of checking your basement floor for signs of efflorescence, or salt deposits -- this will be a layer of a greyish-white, powdery substance on the surface of the floor. This is what happens when water comes into contact with hard, dense surfaces like stone, brick, or concrete. These are often difficult to remove using a broom or a soft mop -- the deposits adhere to the surface so strongly that a good going over with a bristle brush is usually the only way to successfully remove them. Salt deposits are a sign of possible flooding in the past -- and this means that your basement may be vulnerable to flooding in the future unless preventative measures are taken. 

Spalling

Spalling is what happens when basement walls start to disintegrate due to constant exposure to high levels of humidity as well as direct contact with water. Like efflorescence, it effects materials such as concrete, brick, and stone. Spalling causes walls to break, flake, and crumble, so always be aware for the slightest sign that this is occurring in your basement. 

For more information on how to keep your basement from being seriously damaged due to overly high levels of humidity or the presence of water, please contact your local construction contractor at your earliest convenience. 

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