Even if you're not using your basement as living space, it's still very important to protect it from humidity, as rot, mold, and mildew can thoroughly damage everything in the space. Drywall, wood, carpeting, photo albums, clothing, holiday ornaments, leather, paint, documents, books, and anything with organic material will eventually grow mold and take damage in a humid environment. A damaged basement is a significant problem and makes the house much more difficult to sell at a good value. Here are some of the most common problems of a humid basement:
The material you use to cover your flood needs to be made of a material that cannot be ruined by a damp or wet basement. Even when your basement is not experiencing groundwater leaking, basement moisture can still make its way into the space. This is because concrete is a very porous material, and moisture from the earth will continually work its way into your living space.
A concrete slab allows water to pass through very slowly. As it moves through the floor, it evaporates right away- your basement floor should not appear wet even if moisture is making its way through. However, if you lay carpeting, wood, or other organic materials on this floor, you can count on the moisture to be trapped underneath the floor.
Combined with the warmth of the home, this space becomes a breeding ground for mold, mildew, foul odors, and rot. And because of the "stack effect", the air in your home moves upwards and leaves the house through the roof, basement and crawl space air- with its mold spores, dust mite waste, smells, and everything else- is being pulled up from the basement all the time. The National Institute of Heath cites mold spores as causing allergic reactions, worsening allergies, and leading to a variety of other health issues. Click to learn more about the stack effect, mold spores, dust mite allergens, or read on for more information!
Very often, carpeting in a finished basement is laid on top of a wooden subfloor. While this sounds like a great idea at first, moisture will also collect under wood sub floors, causing them to also rot, grow mold, and smell. Additionally, as the wood soaks up moisture, it will swell with moisture and begin to buckle underfoot.
Regardless of the way your basement gets wet, whether through a bursting pipe, a leaking water heater, a bursting washing machine hose, or one of any other home plumbing leaks, water from any major leak in the house is going to flow downhill into the basement.
Plywood and chipboard basement floors are difficult to remove, and drying them out can take an extremely long time. Mold will begin to grow on these materials in 24-48 hours, so it won't take long before you're living with an unhealthy, smelly space. Sooner or later, you'll have to pay to have the entire carpet and subfloor ripped out before starting over.
Be warned: Some hardware stores have begun to sell basement sub floor tiles made from chipboard and a dimpled plastic material on the bottom. The plastic material, it would seem, would protect the flooring from humidity from the concrete below. However, there is a large gap underneath each flooring tile where the wood is exposed, and they do not successfully protect your basement because of this. Additionally, they can still be destroyed by a basement flood. When they do, the plastic dimples underneath will fill with water, sealing the floors down and making them even more difficult to remove.
With all the improvements in the basement remodeling industry, it's surprising that drywall is still being used to finish basements. Drywall installations take up too much space in the basement, rely on studs, and are extremely vulnerable to damage from mold and water. If you finish your basement with drywall, you can expect to remodel the space again in the not-too-distant future. Click here to learn more about drywall.