Is a damp basement a deal breaker?

When you're sizing up a potential new home to see if it meets your needs, suits your lifestyle and isn't going to cause you unexpected costs and grief down the road, a full inspection will reveal potential concerns that could lead to disaster.

Even before the home inspection there are ways to identify if there are underlying issues that could develop into larger problems down the road. One of the biggest concerns can be the basement. If it shows signs of dampness you could be buying into trouble. A damp basement could be more than just a nuisance to homeowners, especially if you want to use it as a living space such as a family room, bedroom or home office. Any signs of moisture can lead to accumulation that can cause both cosmetic and structural damage to both the basement and the floor above.

Here is more information, courtesy of

What are the signs of a damp basement?

The tell tale signs that let you know there's potential trouble are loose floor tiles, rusty baseboard and wall nails, storage elevated off the floor, damaged or water stained basement storage, dampness or water spots and/or stains on walls and floors, peeling paint, rust at column or post base, patched walls and rotting boards or wood.

There are three major causes of water in a basement:

1. Condensation: While condensation may be present in the basement, an accumulation of it can cause the floorboards above to buckle. It appears as water droplets, puddles or wet spots on floors and walls. If left, it can cause damage such as rot and invite insects to make your home, theirs.

2. A problem below the surface: Sometimes the issue can come from places you can't even see. In some neighbourhoods, homes are sitting on high water tables which can cause ongoing issues – especially during a big storm or quick thaw. These problems aren't permanent however if the basement is holding water even after the storm, the source of the problem could be below the surface.

Water that comes through walls or appears where the floor and wall meet is an indicator of high ground water. The cure for this can be as cheap as an absorbent clay injection to a more expensive solution such as installing a sump pump.

3. Runoff: There are several ways runoff water can enter your house and cause dampness in your basement. Rainwater and melting snow are the most common sources and for some homes it's common to find dampness after a storm or drastic increase in temperatures that causes snow to melt quickly.

Damp basements can occur in new and older homes as heavy rainfalls and melting snow find it's way into basements both new and old. If you notice any dampness make sure to ask questions and assess the source of the problem so you can decide whether the solution is worth your time and effort.

For more information, visit, a website created by the Ontario Real Estate Association to educate homeowners about the buying and selling process.

Hanna Gillis

Office: 905-476-4337

Fax: 905-476-6141

Cell: 905-251-3520

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