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What are the Dangers of a Damp Basement?

By Misty Amber Brighton
Updated May 16, 2024
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The dangers of a damp basement can include health-related issues and deterioration to the structure itself. Having a wet basement can cause ruin to electrical fixtures, such as furnaces or air conditioners. It could also create rotted wood, which can lead to foundation damage. Mold often grows in damp spaces, which can cause respiratory problems, allergies, or prolonged flu-like symptoms.

A leaky basement can cause flooding to occur. An unusual amount of standing water in a basement could lead to the destruction of electrical components. Heating and air conditioning equipment that has been exposed to standing water could become unsafe to use, or inoperable. Appliances, telephones, and computer equipment might also be damaged when there is a flood.

Homes built on a basement may have wooden support beams overhead. These beams can become rotten when they are exposed to a great deal of moisture. For this reason, houses with a damp basement may experience support beam deterioration, eventually causing the foundation of the house to crumble and become unsafe.

Peeling paint or plaster can result from a damp basement. This is especially true in a leaky basement that tends to flood whenever there is a heavy rain. Basement wall damage can sometimes be detected by large cracks in blocks or paneling that appears to buckle. Paint or wallpaper may flake or peel, and also smell musty.

People who live in a home with a damp basement are often susceptible to a number of health issues. This is mostly due to the presence of black mold, which can form in a wet basement over time and is often difficult to detect. Breathing disorders, such as asthma, are often reported in people who have mold damage in their basement. Respiratory issues may be accompanied by an onset of allergies, which appear to be steady throughout the year rather than seasonal.

Other times, people report flu-like symptoms including coughing, sore throat, and runny nose. When these symptoms are a result of mold in a damp basement, they tend to last for an extended period of time and do not typically respond to over-the-counter treatments. It is often difficult to determine whether the symptoms are a result of mold exposure or a virus.

People who are considering buying a home with a basement should have the structure inspected to see if it leaks. That way, they will know if there is potential for foundation damage, as these repairs can be extremely costly. It can also be helpful in preventing sickness after the homeowner has taken possession of the residence.

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Discussion Comments
By ddljohn — On Jul 18, 2014

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned insects. Insects are attracted to cool, damp places and they love damp basements. In fact, lots of insects in the basement is one of the foremost signs that there is leaking somewhere.

Of course, insects are a small problem in comparison to the water damaging the floor, walls and infrastructure in general.

By SteamLouis — On Jul 17, 2014

One other consequence of a damp basement is that it causes the heating bill to go up. It's more difficult to heat a damp environment. A damp basement tends to remain cold all the time. And let's not forget the strange odor that develops due to the moisture.

By fify — On Jul 17, 2014

I think that mold is one of the biggest issues with a damp basement. A relative of mine got very sick because of black mold. This is the worst type of mold and can cause severe allergies and respiratory issues. If I'm not wrong, I think it can even be deadly with severe and prolonged exposure. Like the article said, it can be difficult for people to detect, especially if they don't know what they're looking for. And the symptoms is causes are similar to asthma or seasonal allergies.

If anyone has these symptoms and has a damp basement, they need to check for mold or a professional must do it for them. It's a good idea to get help from a professional. No one should inspect a damp basement without some kind of protective equipment like a mask. Breathing in black mold spores is dangerous.

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