How to Improve Thermal Management and Control Basement Moisture

basement-moisture-controlDid you know that your basement can account for as much as 25 percent of heat loss in the winter? Studies show that uninsulated basements are one of most common reasons why homes experience damage due to moisture, which leads to mold and mildew growth. Among the health risks associated with these dangers, an uninsulated or improperly insulated basement can also contribute to higher energy bills, especially in the winter months.

If you are looking to improve thermal management and increase the comfort level of your home, it’s a good idea to start with your basement. If you are looking to find a cost-effective and efficient way to control basement moisture and inhibit mold and mildew growth, your best bet is to make sure that you have adequate basement insulation to protect your family and your home.

The Dangers of a Wet Basement
Any time you live in a region that has a lot of snow or rain, you are also likely to have leaky basements. Even if your basement doesn’t flood, condensation or just a slight leak of moisture into the walls can bring a myriad of potential problems and dangers into the home.

Not only does moisture cause an environment that aids in mold and mildew growth, which are known to cause allergies and sickness in people and pets, but it also makes it more difficult to control the temperature within the home. Here are five things you can do right away to control basement moisture and improve thermal management in your home.

#1 – Figure Out Where the Water is Coming From
In most cases it’s pretty easy to see where the water or moisture is coming into your home. However, you might need to hire a professional if the leak is not so easy to spot. One tip that can help you determine whether the water is coming from the outside or if you have a problem with condensation is to use the “aluminum foil trick.” This trick involves taking a 1 foot square piece of aluminum foil and tape it to the wall where you are seeing the most water. Seal all 4 sides tight against the wall with the tape. Check the foil in a couple of days. If the water is on the side that is against the wall, then the moisture is coming from outside. If the water is on the side that is facing out from the wall, then you most likely have an issue with condensation.

#2 – Prevent Water From Entering the Home
Believe it or not, seamless aluminum gutters are one of the best things you can install on your home to prevent water from entering a basement or crawl space. The WaterFall Gutter Guard System help to move water away from the foundation of your home, while preventing leaves, sticks and other debris from clogging up your gutters. This ensures that the water will freely flow through the seamless aluminum gutters down into the spout and away from your home, rather than getting backed up by a bunch of debris. The WaterFall Gutter Guard System is virtually maintenance-free, preventing you from having to get on a ladder to clean out the gutters a couple times each year.

#3 – Landscaping Can Help
Another thing that can help in addition to installing seamless aluminum gutters, is to do a little landscaping to ensure that your lawn is sloping away from your house. Homes that are at the bottom of a hill often get a lot of water pouring into their home. Even if gravity is working against you, you can create a lawn slope that is at least 1 inch per foot to guide the water away from your home and prevent water from washing up against it as well. You can also dig a shallow drainage ditch to intercept the surface water as it washes toward your home and direct it away from the house.

#4 – Stop Condensation From Forming
Most basements are cool year round. The moisture that is in the air naturally in a basement will increase the chances of condensation forming. Your best bet is to stop moisture from getting into the air in the first place. Especially during humid or wet weather, make sure that your basement is properly ventilated and keep the windows closed to prevent the inside air of your home from getting too humid and moist. Keep the basement heated in the winter to dry the air naturally and run the air conditioner in the summer to dry it out as well.

#5 – Locate Other Sources of Moisture
Sometimes the moisture is coming in for other reasons. Leaking pipes or even laundry appliances that overflow or put humidity into the air are also common causes of moisture and condensation. If mold and mildew growth are a problem in your basement, refrain from taking hot, steamy showers in a basement bathroom or from doing anything that would increase the amount of moisture in the air.

Basement Insulation – Your Best Bet to Improve Thermal Management
Above all else, making sure that you have proper basement insulation, is the key to moisture control and thermal management in your home. New products are available, such as Icynene spray foam insulation, which can be used to create an all-in-one vapor and air barrier, while insulating and protecting your basement from various weather conditions, cold spots and condensation.

Richie’s Insulation, located in Southeastern Massachusetts, provides home energy audits, professional insulation installation and even installation of seamless aluminum gutters to help homeowners in Massachusetts, Cape Cod, Connecticut and Rhode Island improve thermal management, lower monthly utility bills and control basement moisture. Call Richie’s today for more information on all of the services and products available to residential and commercial property owners.