Safely Waterproofing Your Basement

waterproofing your basementIs one basement safer than another?

Well, a dry, waterproofed basement is certainly safer than a wet one riddled with mold, insects, and rot. A damp, musty basement environment will have poor air quality. According to the EPA, 50% of a home’s indoor air actually comes up from the basement. That means the quality of the basement air affects the quality of the air upstairs. Bad air quality will increase allergies and asthma symptoms as well as “sick building syndrome” where the inhabitants in a home or building get sick with common symptoms such as headache; eye, nose, or throat irritation; dry cough; dry or itchy skin; dizziness and nausea; difficulty in concentrating; fatigue; and sensitivity to odors.

There are several factors that cause sick building syndrome—such as ventilation issues and indoor and outdoor chemical contaminants—but the one waterproofing and basement drainage contractors can help with is biological contaminants. The biological contaminants are bacteria, molds, pollen, and viruses that breed in stagnant water and moisture accumulating in ducts, humidifiers and drain pans, or where water has collected on ceiling tiles, carpeting, or insulation.

When a waterproofing or basement drainage contractor removes the water and moisture from the basement it leads to better indoor air quality in the whole house

While waterproofing your basement is definitely safer than a wet basement, there is also a varied level of safety among different waterproofing methods. Most interior waterproofing systems have a channel around the perimeter of the basement for the drain tile. If this channel is a closed system it is safer than an open channel system. An open channel system allows for radon, a cancer causing soil gas to enter your house. Radon mitigation contractors were actually finding dangerously high levels of radon in homes with open channel drainage systems. The same goes for open pit sump pump systems or even sump pumps with gaps and home’s with foundation cracks. Radon can enter into the house through these openings and create serious health problems for the occupants.

Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that forms from the decay of uranium, which is found in soil and rock throughout the world. Indoor radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and is responsible for 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year. About 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked.

The only way to detect radon is with a radon test. If you do any work in your basement or anything that may disturb the soil around your foundation may affect the radon level in the soil. Radon forms in pockets randomly that you may not have a radon problem but your neighbor does. This is why it is so important to test your home and test every few years or before and after a remodel that disturbs your soil or your foundation.