With the holidays and their aftermath taking up so much time, you probably haven’t given much thought to your basement lately. But it’s a good idea to take a look as spring approaches. The winter and spring seasons place a lot of pressure on your basement walls. If you live in a cold-winter region, the freezing and thawing cycle pushes and pulls on walls. Heavy rainfall creates hydrostatic pressure that presses against your basement. Either of these can lead to leaks and cracks in the long term.
By checking your basement regularly, you can catch minor problems before they expand out of control. Basement and foundation cracks only get worse and more expensive over time, so the more quickly you hire someone to repair them, the better. Here are some things to look for when inspecting your basement.
1. Look for leaks, cracks
Go through your basement and look for any signs of trouble. Cracks and evidence of water leakage are the most significant problems to look for. If you find small new cracks, note their location and check them regularly. Consider using a pencil to mark the location of the crack so you can tell later on if it’s expanding. If you find large cracks or currently expanding ones, call a pro for help.
Look closely at the walls for other telltale signs of trouble. If walls bulge inwards, that’s a sign that groundwater pressure is beginning to take a toll. Loose joints and cinder blocks sticking out are other trouble signs.
2. Check the basement after every rain
Take a look right after rainfall, and you can not only determine wet spots but where the leaks are coming from. If you have a finished basement, look for wet spots in the carpet and near the corners. If your basement has a musty smell, water is probably getting in somewhere.
3. Inspect the exterior
Some of the most essential protections for your basement exist outside. Overflowing gutters pour a lot of water pressure onto your basement and foundation.
Confirm that your gutters are clear of debris and that downspouts direct water at least 3 feet away from your home. Look around for erosion or telltale signs of water pooling in your yard, especially close to your foundation. If that’s taking place, you may need a drainage or yard grading specialist to address it.
4. Test your sump pump
Your basement sump pump, should you have one, plays a vital role in maintaining a dry space. You should look at it every six months and make sure all is well.
Clean out the bottom of the basin of any debris, and make sure nothing is blocking the grate or discharge pipe. Make sure the pump is level, upright, and plugged in. Fill up the basin with water. The pump should activate at that point. If it doesn’t, ask a pro to take a look.