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Basement Waterproofing: Is your basement safe?

Like most homeowners, especially if you have children, your basement is a busy place. You have a rec room there, or an entertainment center or a lot of storage or, your laundry room. Family members are down there for hours at a time and visitors may also be spending time there watching the game or playing pool. You may have a family member who lives there.

So, since you spend some time down there, you need to know of possible hazards in your basement. Watch out for the following: 

  1. Poor ventilation: If I’ve smelled it once, I’ve smelled it a thousand times when I go to work on a customer’s basement: a stuffy, musty smell. This is because the basement has very poor ventilation. This odor may cause asthma attacks and other upper respiratory issues for anyone who spends a fair amount of time in the basement.
  2. Chemicals being stored: Basements are places where we typically store paints, glues, thinners, and other volatile chemicals. These cans may not be closed completely, which means toxic substances will be released into the air. Exposure to these toxicities may cause serious health problems such as asthma, migraines, obesity, diabetes, thyroid issues, immune disorders and, even, cancer. *** 
  3. The dryer that is not vented: Your clothes dryer should run a vent pipe to the outside of the house. Unfortunately, and I have seen it, too, many homeowners have a dryer that only catches lint while recirculating warm air into the basement. The exhaust and chemicals from laundry detergent and other cleaning agents are sent into the basement air which can cause respiratory and vision problems. Basements are damp, which is precisely the environment in which mold thrives. Mold spores shot into the air from mold and mildew can lead to persistent coughing, excessive sneezing, runny nose, and dry, itchy skin.
  4. Gases from the sewer: Your sewer line may have come into your basement through the floor drain. Typically, the sewer trap dries out, allowing sewer gases to enter the basement. This is methane, which is quite toxic and is very unhealthy (not to mention noxious).
  5. Mosquitos and other pest infestations: Basements may also have pools of water in the floor, at the corners, or at the bottom of cracks in the wall. During the warmer months, these may attract mosquitos, carpenter bees, and other destructive pests. 
  6. Carbon Monoxide: Another popular feature that I’ve seen in many basements in Central Maryland, where we are based, is fuel-fired furnaces. If there is improper ventilation, these furnaces will release carbon monoxide. This is a major fire hazard. However, more importantly, carbon monoxide moves upward, into the home and may cause dizziness, headaches, and even death. Your furnace should be inspected once a year. Carbon monoxide detectors could also be installed in the basement and around the floors above it. 

As I tell my customers, your basement is a hotbed of activity, good and bad. If you are experiencing any of the above problems, contact a basement waterproofing contractor and have them complete a thorough inspection of your home. It may cost a few dollars, but your health and that of your loved ones is priceless. Keep it a safe place for everyone!

M Taylor Enterprise can inspect your home foundation to see if you have any basement waterproofing issues. Call our home foundation and structural repair experts in Maryland at (301) 649-3406 or matt@mtaylorenterprise.comWe will do a free consultation, make recommendations then do any needed repairs done quickly and efficiently. We serve the Montgomery County, parts of Prince Georges and Howard Counties.

*** For more information on mold and the health issues caused by it, visit the Functional Medical Institute website

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