When it comes to DIY basement remodeling projects, there’s one key factor you need to consider before getting started: how are you going to take care of that disgusting humidity that always seems to linger in basements? If you’re planning on making the basement into a real living space for people to spend time in, you don’t want guests feeling sticky and breathing in dense, heavy air while they’re supposed to be having a good time.
Not sure if your basement has a moisture problem? Not so fast. Test your basement for moisture before embarking on your remodeling project, just to be sure.
The Moisture Test
This is a really easy way to check the humidity levels in your basement, and even just to see if you have any moisture issues at all. Tape a square piece of plastic or tin foil onto the cement if your basement floor, and make sure the tape seals all the edges. Forget about it for a few days and don’t touch it. When you come back to it, take a look at where the moisture sits.
If there’s condensation on the outside surface of the plastic or tin foil, you don’t need to worry. The insulation in your basement once it’s finished, as well as ventilation, will get rid of any potential condensation moisture in the air. However, if there’s water underneath your square, you’ve got a bigger problem. That means moisture is coming into your basement from the cement floor, and you need to protect against that before trying to remodel the room yourself.
Fixing the Problem
What might be the cause of the water is improper drainage outside of your home. If rainwater is allowed to just run off the roof without gutters, or the soil around the house foundations slopes inward instead of out, or even if one drainpipe has been incorrectly installed, these may be the cause of internal leakage. All water around the house needs to be directed away from the foundation, at a distance of at least five feet. This is the first thing you’ll need to check when moisture-proofing the basement.
Another thing you can do is apply a concrete waterproof sealant to the walls and floors of your basement. Most sealant brands are sold in powder form that you mix with water once you’re ready to apply it, and you should be using a long-bristled brush to make sure you cover the areas thoroughly.
This is actually a project that needs to be done over several days, since you should try to keep the sealant moist so that it doesn’t dry right away. Doing this allows the sealer time to actually seep into the pores of the concrete, forming a crystalline structure that’s waterproof enough to block moisture from ever reaching the inside of your basement.
If there are cracks in your cement floor or the surrounding poured walls, you can’t simply apply the sealant and expect it to take care of the problem. You’ll have to actually repair the wall cracks with a concrete patching agent, and floor cracks with a concrete bonding agent. Before applying the patch or bond however, all cracks need to be chiseled out to around three-quarters of an inch deep and wide, so that the agents can actually get into the fractures and do their job.