Why Is My Basement Damp? A Primer on Carolina Basement Challenges
More than any other southeastern region, North and South Carolina contain a diverse landscape. From the Appalachian Mountains to North Carolina’s Outer Banks and South Carolina’s Lowcountry, this storied topography is home to vibrant communities, exceptional vacation destinations, and a growing urban population drawn to the quality of life and the ability to buy an affordable preexisting home or a newly constructed residence. Many new Carolina residents are surprised to discover the absence of basements in the majority of homes. A standard consideration in homes from other regions, the fear of Carolina soil, leaking, and other factors have resulted in less than 30% of homes possessing basements. Yet basements offer a clear value to any home. Here’s a deeper dive into why Carolina homes lack basements and what you need to know should you wish to add one to your home.
Carolina Clay Soil
Carolina soils are comprised primarily of clay, a dense and hard composition that can cause issues with subsequent drainage. A dry basement is dependent on the ability of water to flow away from the home. Clay soil is often too dense to absorb and distribute excess water, instead, it can gain density causing hydrostatic pressure against the foundation, creating a force that can cause cracking and even shift or detach the foundation. This intensifying pressure can also cause walls to bow and shear, breaking key seals and joints. These breaches of the foundation’s integrity can ultimately lead to water intrusion and basement leaking. In the event you have water related damages, a certified technician from Carolina Basement Solutions will come inspect your home for free and advise the best procedure for protecting your basement.
Shallow Frost Lines
Basements are a regular feature of homes throughout the Northeast, where harsh winters produce a deep frost line, i.e. frozen soil, that encases the entire foundation for up to five feet underground. The frost line only extends between 6 and 18 inches in the Carolinas, however, as this shallow pressure, caused by contracting and expanding soil due to temperature fluctuation, is uneven against the foundation. This uneven pressure can lead to bowing and cracking if the pressure increases too greatly. Water then enters these cracks, freezes, and expands to widen the fissures and cause more damage to the foundation. A basement expert from Carolina Basement Solutions can assess your frost lines and recommend reinforcements that allow you to enjoy the benefits of your basement, be it for storage, as a workspace, or as an additional living area.
Basement cracks are a leading cause of basement leaking, as water is forced by dense, impervious clay to release into cracks that can eventually enter the home’s basement. Cracks can occur in many forms throughout a poorly constructed basement. They are most typically found near the wall cove joints, the windowsills, and adjacent to underground plumbing, basically in areas that possess less structural integrity than a solid wall. The basement is equally vulnerable to a weakness in soil composition and a rising water table.
The rising water table in a home with poor drainage will lead to pooling and eventually because water always “seeks” the easiest route, puddling inside the basement. Cove joints are a particularly vulnerable access point because they provide a seam between the bottom and top of the wall. This crease can expand due to a shift in the foundation allowing water to enter the basement. Evidence of basement cracks can take many forms, including muddy floor joists, wet floors, wet sagging insulation and/or floors, and a musty odor, among others.
Carolina Basement Solutions offers complimentary inspections to assess water damage and provide solutions to eliminate the problem. Basements typically provide plenty of access for this analysis, as well as the space for other tradespeople to make repairs to other home elements like electrical and plumbing. Electrical wiring and plumbing are often vulnerable to basement leaking as they are most often found behind drywall and in the ceiling of this area.
Building Material Costs
As the price of lumber and other building materials has skyrocketed in recent years, many new home builders have eliminated basement construction as a cost-savings measure. The same cost of the lumber to build ten homes just one year ago now only builds two residences, a cost increase of 80%. However, given the value of having a basement for the reasons listed above, every potential homeowner should consider adding a basement. The price of building materials should also decrease over time, another reason constructing a basement may be a sound investment.
The populations in North and South Carolina continue to grow as people from around America are drawn to an affordable high quality of life that combines dynamic cities, excellent enterprise as well as some of our nation’s finest coastal and mountain recreation. As existing and new Carolinians purchase established or build new homes, the addition of a basement, a given in many regions nationally, remains an important consideration. Several challenges, from the famous clay soils to shallow frost lines, may give a potential homeowner pause or worse, lead to issues with an existing basement.
Protecting your home from water damage begins with securing your basement. The experts at Carolina Basement Solutions recommend every existing or potential homeowner schedule a complimentary consultation to inspect an existing basement or consider a basement addition to a new build project. As a premier waterproofing company, they can make repairs to eliminate water issues and preserve the integrity of your foundation and your home. Visit the Carolina Basement Solutions website to schedule a free consultation today.