Preventing and Fixing Wet Basement Problems

While excess moisture and humidity in your basement may seem like more of an annoyance than a serious problem, you might be surprised at the potential consequences of ignoring it. Two negative outcomes, for example, are mold growth and the possibility of foundation damage.

Mold Growth: Mold, which tends to grow and thrive in moist environments, is both an eyesore and a potential health hazard. Not everyone is allergic to mold spores, but those who are can experience a variety of uncomfortable symptoms, ranging from eye irritation and sneezing to skin rashes and asthma attacks. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “The key to mold control is moisture control.” In the case of plumbing leaks or flooding, fast action is necessary to prevent mold growth. The E.P.A recommends that affected areas be dried out within 24 to 48 hours.

Prevention and Control Tactics

  1. Rain gutters on your house can help divert water away from your foundation, which is one factor in preventing basement leaks and excess moisture. When rain gutters are not working properly, it’s usually the result of one or two things: 1) clogs caused by leaves and other debris, and 2) downspouts which fail to direct water far enough from the house. Diverting water away from your home can also help protect your foundation from premature cracking of crumbling. Although rain gutters need to be cleaned once or twice a year, there are low maintenance products available which let the rain water in, but keep the leaves out.
  2. Sump pumps: An essential device for wet basements is a sump pump — preferably the kind that work during extreme weather conditions and power outages. Those are the conditions under which homeowners need a working sump pump the most!
  3. Basement waterproofing solutions: Depending on the extent of your water seepage problem, you may want to consult a basement waterproofing service. Since prices, warranties, and services may vary quite a bit from one company to the next, it would be wise to get a few estimates. Basement waterproofing companies may recommend several options, such as exterior excavation, the installation of new drainage tiles and French drains, and the application of a waterproof membrane on the outside of foundation walls. Interior work may involve the creation of a drainage trench around the perimeter of the basement and the installation of drainage tiles or piping to channel excess water to a sump pump. So as you can imagine, basement waterproofing can be quite expensive. That’s why the best strategy is usually a preventative one.
  4. Damage control: One way to help prevent or minimize damage to your home from leaking water pipes or malfunctioning appliances is to have an automatic shutoff mechanism installed in your plumbing system. By detecting and responding to reductions in water pressure, it can turn off water flow at specific locations to keep flooding and property damage to an absolute minimum.

Other than doing everything you can to divert rainwater away from your foundation and being ready to respond to plumbing accidents, another method for controlling moisture is to install a dehumidifier in your basement. A local appliance outlet or large hardware store should be able to recommend a good, reasonably priced dehumidifier for your needs.

The Science of Decorating Your Home

Humans have been thinking about the way they decorate their homes for thousands of years. In ancient India, Vastu shastra (literally, “the science of architecture”) has been informing decorating techniques since as early as 6,000 BCE. The more commonly known influence for home decorating, feng shui, has its roots in ancient China where practitioners were inspired by astronomy. In the early 1900s, however, a modern science was founded that attempts to solve some of the problems that arise based on our environments.

Environmental psychology is a field that focuses on the interplay between humans and the environments they live and work in. Scientists have studied the way humans (and other animals, like rats) are affected by their environment. Their findings help to inform us of how we can live more relaxed or focused based on how we decorate our home and workplace.

A place to call your own

As society becomes increasingly urbanized, many psychologists are studying the problems that arise from being in constant contact with one another, both physically and in the digital world. One thing that scientists have discovered is that it is important for humans to have a place of sanctuary during their day. Whether this is your cubicle at work, your home office, or your tool shed, everyone needs a place they can be alone. Ask yourself if your home setup provides you with a space that you can go to be alone.

How colors can affect mood

Have you ever been in a school or hospital that was painted an awful color that just made you uncomfortable? Many of us have trained ourselves to adapt and live with environments that aren’t ideal for us. For example, the bright red walls of McDonald’s or the blinding fluorescent lights in a department store probably aren’t conditions we’d pick for our homes. Scientists have discovered that there is a correlation between colors, brightness, and our mood.

Try to match the colors of your rooms with their functions. For example, you wouldn’t want to paint your bedroom bright red, as your bedroom should be a place you can relax to fall asleep. Instead, go with a less-pronounced color for the bedroom.

The balance between cluttered and sterile

Much of the way we choose to decorate our homes is informed by our childhood. If you learn meticulous cleaning habits from your parents, you might carry on with this into adulthood. As a child, you probably went to a friend’s house and marveled at how differently they did things. Part of that lesson is learning that the way someone chooses to decorate and clean their home is part of their personality. But like most things in life, it’s important to find a balance.

If you find yourself restless or distracted you should ask yourself if the room is too cluttered or messy. Maybe it’s the opposite; you could just as easily become distracted or uncomfortable by an environment that is too sterile looking.

Listen to yourself

The most important thing to remember when decorating your home is to follow your intuitions. Decide if you decorated a room a certain way because that’s what everyone else does or if it actually makes you feel more at home.