Does your basement smell musty, no matter how much you try to air it out? Always cleaning condensation from your freezing walls? You’ve got a problem.

A musty smell is a surefire indication of a moist basement. And if you don’t pay attention to the humidity rise and think, “Oh, it’s going to go away!” you’re in for a shock. A musty basement can turn into a structural problem if you ignore it for too long.

Plus, it causes mold, mildew, and infestations because all that moist space is a breeding ground for bacteria and termites. Also, mold is toxic to your health. Feeling like you have the flu or unexplained fatigue? It may just be caused by mold spores.

So, what can you do? How can you stop your moist basement from deteriorating further? And if everything has gone south, how can you set it back to rights? Let’s find out.

10 Signs of Basement Moisture
If you think your basement is moldering or becoming moister, here are some warning signs to look out for:
Water seeping out of your basement walls, even if they’re solid concrete.

  • Extreme humidity
  • A damp odor
  • Mold or mildew
  • Damp spots on the carpet
  • Wood deterioration
  • Condensation on walls and floors in hot summers
  • Saturated water ring around the base of concrete block walls
  • Standing water under appliances or on the floor
  • Decaying joists, wood headers, and sill plates.
  • Blistered wall coverings.

Now that you know what to look out for if you think your basement is becoming a water hazard, let’s discuss why your basement is becoming a moist jungle in the rolling oasis of cosmopolitan Dubai.

3 Sources of Basement Moisture
If you want to correct the moisture problems in your basement, you have to learn why they’re happening, where the water is coming from, and how it is entering your basement. First, let’s look at the three places where water can come from:

Rain or Groundwater – This is water that falls as rain and seeps into the ground. Even as little as 1-inch of rainwater can create a 1,250-gallon flood in your basement if your gutters, downspouts, and grading are shot.

Interior Moisture Sources – These include appliances and areas that retain water, such as bathrooms, humidifiers, kitchens, unvented clothes dryers, and standing water left after construction.

Weather-assisted Sources – This includes areas with higher humidity levels, which can cause humid air to enter cool basements and condense on the walls or appliances.

None of these sources can cause water to get into your basement all by themselves. They need assistance, and that comes in the form of:

  • Poor construction with settling foundations
  • Lack of a good gutter and downspout system
  • Failure to slope the ground away from the foundation
  • Missing or non-functioning subsurface drainage systems
  • Improperly built water drainage systems.
  • All of the above problems allow liquid water flow, vapor diffusion, and capillary suction — why your basement floors or wall coverings are cracking or splitting.

5 Causes of Basement Moisture and How to Fix Them
Dubai’s heat is no joke. As a result, lots of people hide in their cooler basements and chill. Plus, air conditioning works better underground.

But when your chill zone is starting to flood, you get less chill and more slip-and-break-your-nose kind of relaxation, which is great for hospitals but terrible for hiding from the heat.

So, if you’re done with your basement moisture problems and want your chill zone back, walk with us through these common basement moisture problems and learn how to fix them:

1. Missing or Defective Downspouts and Gutters
Gutters and downspouts are there for a reason. They stop water from going into your home, and if you lose them, you’re just courting disaster.

Missing gutters and downspouts cause rainwater to drain into your basement. But defective downspouts and gutters are worse. They cause rainwater to drain into a single concentrated area in your basement, making it worse for wear faster than you can get to it.

So, what’s the solution?

First, put sloped (away from the house) sidewalks around the basement. These will channel the water away from the house. Next, place gutters and downspouts at the end of sloping sidewalks and near your basement walls so they can suck up water and channel it away from your house.

2. Ineffective Sump Pits and Drain Tiles
If you have a basement, you need a subsurface drainage system. That’s need with a capital “N.” Why? Because it stops water from flooding your basement.

So, if you don’t have a drainage system, or yours doesn’t work for a variety of reasons like pipe collapse, pipe clogging, tree roots invading pipes, or broken sump connection, fix it ASAP.

This is especially true for the sump pit because it contains a pump that lifts the collected water to the ground outside the foundation wall, causing it to drain away harmlessly. But if your sump pit is broken, the pump will stop working, and you’ll have a water invasion on your hands.

So, what’s the solution?

There are several solutions to this problem. Let’s go through all of them:

Install an Exterior Drainage System – The system will allow you to waterproof and insulate your foundation, place effective drain tile, level drain pipes, correctly backfill window wells, and ensure proper grading, but it’s expensive and time-consuming.

Get a Drainage Channel Above the Floor Slab – If you can’t do an exterior overhaul, an interior drainage system is the best option because it’s less costly and simple to execute. It just uses channels placed on the base of your floor slab to channel excess water away.

Place a Drainage Channel Below the Floor Slab – This system asks you to install a perforated drain pipe beneath the slab edge and connect it to a sump pump. The pipe drains the area, ensuring the longevity of your basement floors.

Put a Drainage Channel within the Floor Slab – This system requires you to place a drainage channel within the slab edge and then connect it to a drain pipe leading to the sump pit, which will pump the water outside.

3. Structural Cracks
Structural cracks are a common problem with Dubai’s cold nights and melting days. Here’s what happens: the water in the air condenses during the night, seeps into your basement walls, and condenses.

When the sun rises, it warms the water, causing it to stretch and damage your walls. This process continues until your foundation breaks apart. However, it isn’t the only way foundation cracks happen.

Your foundation can also crack if the soil beneath isn’t compacted well and when the ground is too hot compared to your foundation walls.

So, what’s the solution?
The best way to stop foundation cracks from happening is to ensure proper soil compaction and place proper shielding to ensure there are no wild temperature fluctuations between the ground and your foundation walls.

4. Inefficient Window Wells
If your basement has windows, make sure your window wells slope away from it, not towards it. This is a grading problem but on a window scale. An improperly built window well will channel water toward your basement, causing it to seep into the foundation walls.

So, what’s the solution?
First, establish a drain under your window sill. Next, slope the window well away from your basement. Aim for a 10 to 15˚ angle.

5. Incorrect Grading
If the ground around your home’s foundation rolls towards it or is flat instead of going outwards, you’re going to have a flooded basement on your hands.

Why? Because the grading on the side of your foundation has enough slope to send all the water into your basement. As a result, the water is going to seep through your basement walls and any wall coverings and swell and ruin them.
Plus, the water is going to cause soil compaction, which can lead to stoops under your foundation that can fill with water. This water can flow into your basement floor and ruin your day.

So, what’s the solution?

The best way to deal with incorrect grading is to ensure the ground around your basement slopes away from your foundation wall at least 1-inch per foot for about six feet. If you can go longer, do it.

The Takeaway
If you’re fighting against a musty basement, arming yourself with a good waterproofing contractor is necessary. You simply can’t do the work required to fix your basement by all your wholesome. It’s just not in the cards.

But what you can do to get waterproofing in Dubai without breaking the bank is get someone to look at your basement problem and ask them for a quote. That’ll help you determine the minimum you have to spend to fix your home and keep it fixed forever.