home inspectors - mobile logo

Is your wet basement sucking you dry?

BY Steve Rodriguez
Steve Rodriguez
BY Steve Rodriguez
Steve Rodriguez


start at the roof

But before we go sloshing around knee-deep dankness, we begin our wet basement banishment in an unexpected place:

The roof.

Because lousy grading is hard to see when you’re right on top of it, but there’s no hiding when you look down from above.

Poor surface drainage is the major cause of basement water problems.

Grim grading, gutters or downspouts mean every drop of rain ends up near the foundation.

And if roof climbing isn’t your thing, you can still walk around the house to ensure the ground slopes away from the walls.

Where it’s flat or sloping toward the house is a potential moisture source.

Stains on gutters and downspouts tell you they’re blocked, leaking, or overflowing.

And weak downspout connections at the storm drain will cause damage and erosion in that area.

Efflorescence and concrete walls

The detective work inside the home is a little trickier but not impossible.

You should see no moisture at the basement windows and no rusty nails or rot at the base of basement walls.

There should be no flaking of plaster walls or powder on the surface of masonry walls.

efflorescence on basement walls

Lifting tiles, stained floors, and buckled walls are also telltale signs of dampness. A musty smell is a sure sign of trouble.

Take a close look in a finished basement because problems hide behind walls or under carpets.

Especially where furnace pipe enters the chimney and service conduit enters the main panel.

Home inspectors use a moisture meter to measure dampness inside these areas.

A bulge in seam compound or lifting drywall tape is also a warning sign.

Efflorescence or subflorescence on the foundation should raise eyebrows.

And if anything is wet you’ve got a surefire problem.

What are the solutions?

Fix the grading, gutter, and downspout drainage systems , and most problems will disappear.

Installing weeping tiles around the foundation will draw water away from the walls.  Most homes built before 1950 don’t have weeping tiles and even newer systems can become clogged or damaged.

overwhelmed dehumidifier in basement

Improved basement ventilation and raising the temperature in the summer will reduce condensation.

Insulating cold water pipes, basement walls and ventilating a crawlspace is also helpful.

And place a dehumidifier inside basements and cellars to vent any moist air outside.

If your basement doesn’t always feel comfortable, you need to take action.

Photo of author


Steve Rodriguez is a Certified Master Inspector® and the owner of Bulldog Professional Inspection Services. He will perform your home inspection and has personally uncovered tens-of-thousands of defects in 14,000+ Kansas City properties since 2003.
best home inspectors badge in kansas city 2016-2024
top 3 home inspectors in kansas city 2023 badge
top 25 under 25 badge
certified master inspector badge
Citys Best Award Badge 2024
top home inspection companies in kansas city badge
verified veteran owned business