A damp, musty smell is the least of your worries if your basement is taking on water. Moisture buildup can leave stored belongings waterlogged, peel paint off the walls, invite mold and mildew growth and even erode your home’s foundation out from under you. You owe it to yourself and your home to keep your basement dry—here’s what you need to know when setting out to do just that.

How Water Gets In

Wet basements can happen to new and old homes alike, with various possible causes. Often, the source is groundwater or runoff from storms, which can seep into the basement if not directed away from your house. Improper grading or overflowing gutters may deliver water to the perimeter of your foundation. Alternatively, your home’s interior may be the source of the moisture, whether from leaky pipes or high humidity leading to condensation in the basement.

Drying the Basement

If the basement is already damp or flooded, your plan of action will depend on how much water there is and where it’s coming from. To clear out moisture buildup, set up a dehumidifier or add extra ventilation to draw moisture out of the air. For more substantial water problems, a wet/dry vacuum or submersible pump is key to draining, depending on how much water there is. Wait for exterior floodwater to recede before draining and shut off electricity to avoid injury.

Managing Runoff

Start small when assessing your runoff situation by checking gutters and downspouts for blockage; this is a simple problem to fix if it’s the cause. Keep an eye on the landscape around your home, too—the soil may have settled over time, making regrading necessary to divert runoff. If you live in an area with high groundwater, you might need to install drainpipes and backfill with impermeable soils like clay along with regrading. This kind of task is best done by hiring contractors that specialize in excavating Brunswick.

Though a waterlogged basement can be a pain, proper preparation can minimize the risks of flooding and let you respond more quickly when it does happen.