When people think about protecting their homes from spring storms, they usually give more consideration to their roofs than their basements. However, heavy rain falls also mean there is a greater chance for flooding in crawlspaces and basements. While flooding is an obvious problem in a finished space; it’s just as important to keep crawlspaces and unfinished areas dry to avoid a musty smell.
Don’t Dismiss the Dangers of a Damp Basement
Even small amounts of water can cause foundation damage, mold growth, musty smells and damage to tools and furniture. Whether from a flood, a small leak or a just excess humidity, a wet basement creates some serious issues:
- Mold and mildew: The growth of mold and mildew is what causes the familiar musty smell in basements and crawlspaces. However, mold also releases spores which can aggravate asthma and allergy conditions. In rare cases, exposure has even led to life threatening compilations in those with severe allergies or weakened immune systems.
- Bugs, rodents and pests: A damp crawlspace or basement provides a welcoming environment for pests. Bugs and rodents appreciate the sheltered space with access to water – perfect for breeding. Some critters will even feed or gnaw on the exposed wood structure of a home, causing severe damage.
- Oxidation: High relative humidity in a basement can lead to rust on tools and other metal objects; damaging their appearance and performance. Excessive moisture in the air can also cause electronics to fail. If homeowners get a whiff of a musty smell, many items in the basement may be at risk.
What You Can Do to keep it Dry
Earlier in the year, the South, plains and Midwest all experienced their share of storms, according to MSN News. More recently, Houston saw wide spread flooding after record rain fall in the month of May. Even when spring weather events don’t cause rivers to break their banks, they still cause increased saturation of the ground around houses. Humidity levels also rise in the spring, which can create moisture problems and musty smells, even in homes with well-sealed foundations. Protecting a basement or crawlspace requires defending against both types of moisture infiltration.
- Patch and seal: If the source of a leak is obvious and fairly small, homeowners can perform some patching and repairs on their own to prevent leaks. However, if cracks are widespread or there are signs that foundation damage has already occurred, it’s best to call a professional.
- Clear drains and install a sump pump: If a home has a clogged French drain or no sump pump, then there is nowhere for the water to go. Even if a small amount of water sits on the floor for a period of time, the situation can create a musty smell.
- Dehumidify the air: While pumps and drains can remove water from the floor, the only successful way to reduce moisture in the air is with a dehumidifier. Basements and crawlspaces usually have the highest RH levels in the home, which is why a musty smell is so common. Purchasing a high-capacity dehumidifier that can meet the demand is essential.
While it’s great to see that spring has arrived and summer is on its way, the muggy days ahead can cause serious problems in basements and crawlspaces. Homeowners should act now to protect their homes from musty smells, insect infestations and structural damage.
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February started off with a winter storm that delivered hazardous driving conditions and frigid temperatures from Kansas to Michigan; dumping 20 inches of snow in some areas before setting its sights on the snow-weary Northeast, The Weather Channel reports.
The latest round of snow is a sure sign the 2015 Blizzard season is underway and homeowners need to prepare for even more winter weather in the coming weeks. Staying safe during a winter storm requires common sense as well as preparation.
Don’t Get Buried – Prepare Early
Digging out after a winter storm is less stressful when families are prepared ahead of time.
While people rush to hardware and grocery stores after hearing a forecast for a winter storm, there is no need to wait until the last minute. It’s a good idea to pick up last-minute essentials such as food, but preparing for the winter storm season requires being ready for every snow event, not just the big one.
- Prepare for power failures: Stock up on batteries for flashlights and small lanterns. Also keep candles on hand as they provide light and some heat.
- Keep out the cold: Add insulation to water pipes to prevent freezing in a power outage. Increasing attic insulation and investing in new windows also helps keep warm air in and cold air out.
- Be ready to stay indoors: February often means spending increased time indoors. With the continued heating of the home, dry air can become a problem that leads to decreased comfort, health issues and damage to the home. Humidifiers are the most effective way to add moisture to a home’s air.
- Inspect your car: Maintaining tires and batteries are two of the best investments commuters can make in the winter. An engine that is slow to turnover is a major sign a battery is failing. However, a battery should be replaced or inspected after 3 years even if it appears to be working fine, according to Firestone. To check tire condition, use the penny test. Simply place a penny in the tread and if you can see all of Lincoln’s head, it’s time for a new set of all-season tires.
- Shop before the snow arrives: Even in northern parts of the country, homeowners often wait until a winter storm hits to check the snow blower or replace last year’s broken shovel. Purchasing or repairing these items early in the season can keep a family a step ahead when hazardous weather arrives, since stores struggle to keep these items on the shelf during a blizzard.
Winterizing a home and car can reduce the impact of the winter storms that are sure to continue throughout February. Don’t leave safety and comfort at the mercy of Mother Nature this year, prepare today.
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