As a homeowner, one of the worst things you can discover is water damage. In most cases, the problem is already pretty far gone by the time you notice it, which means that it will cost a lot to fix. Although water damage can occur almost anywhere in the house, one of the most common locations is in the basement. Also, if you have a chimney, you might have to worry about more basement water damage than usual.
In this article, we want to share some of the top causes for basement dampness, particularly around your chimney. You can be more proactive about preventing it in the future by understanding the reasons why it happens.
Cracks in the Chimney
Since most chimneys are made of brick and mortar, they are susceptible to wear and tear over the years. Also, considering the weather in Ohio, your chimney has to deal with a lot more than aging.
To make matters worse, since brick and mortar are not fully waterproof, they can allow water to flow through somewhat especially if saturated for long periods of time during the rainy season. This is why we at Ray Arnold Masonry recommend sealing your chimney so that you don’t have to worry about it.
Improper Water Flow
Your home’s foundation is a lot less stable than you might think. If water is allowed to pool at the base of the building, it can erode the foundation’s dirt, leading to cracks and significant damage.
For those who have a basement, these pools can lead directly into the subterranean space. For example, if you have window wells, water can easily get in through the paneling or window sills.
So, whenever it rains, you should do a quick walk around the house. If you notice pooling or especially damp sections of the lawn, you’re much more likely to experience basement dampness.
How often do you clean your gutters? If you’re like most homeowners, not as often as you should. Homes that have trees next to them are particularly susceptible to this problem, as leaves, pine needles, and seeds can drop into the gutters throughout the spring and summer seasons.
Unfortunately, clogged gutters can cause damage in a few different ways. First, it can allow water to back up onto the roof, which might leak into your attic. Second, as the gutter overflows, it can lead to excess water hitting the foundation, which can seep into the basement. Finally, a clogged drain can rip out of its holdings and collapse when overfilled.
Overall, be vigilant about inspecting and clearing your gutters. Also, keep in mind that clogs can happen inside the downspout so watch for overflows in the seams of the downspouts which points to a blockage.
Damaged Drainage System
Even if your home has a proper incline to allow water to flow away from the foundation, there are other pieces of your drainage system. Over time, pipes can corrode or get damaged by roots, which can create clogs and backups. When this occurs, the soil around the property will get overly wet, making the basement damp. If your basement gets damp even when it’s not raining, a drainage block is a likely culprit.
Condensation Within the Chimney
These days, modern fireplaces are a lot better at distributing heat throughout the home. However, one unfortunate side effect of this efficiency is condensation inside the chimney. Since less hot air travels up the stack, it gets cooled down too quickly, creating water droplets. Making matters worse, these droplets contain many of the byproducts of burning wood, which means that it turns to a mild acid wash. Over time, this acid can wear down the masonry inside your chimney, which can lead to leakage.
Damaged or Nonexistent Chimney Cap
We recommend that all chimneys have a full-sized cap on top, which helps keep rainwater out, and protect the crown of your chimney from breaking down and getting cracks which will cause movement in winter. We recommend full-sized caps because these protect the entire crown of your chimney and the upper veneer where as many over covers only keep rainwater out of your flue liner but still allow the crown to be exposed to water damage.
So, you want to inspect your chimney cap if you have one to ensure that it is offering the best protection for your chimney. If your chimney doesn’t have a cap for some reason (or it’s only a partial fit), now is the time to buy a replacement before winter comes around.
Contact Ray Arnold Masonry Today
Basement dampness can lead to a variety of problems, including a shifting foundation and mold growth. So, if the cause is your chimney, you want to call us to come out and fix it. Our experienced masonry experts can also do inspections if you’re unsure of the source of the problem. Don’t let water damage get out of control – let us help.