If you have noticed that your basement does not feel quite right or you have detected an odd, musty odor, you may start to suspect that you have water leaking in from the surrounding soil. However, you may not actually see water trickling in through the walls or find puddles on the floor. If so, look for the following subtle signs that this may indeed be the case.
1. Air in the Basement Feels Muggy
One subtle sign that you have a water leak somewhere in your basement can be detected by simply getting a feel for the air around you. Your skin may start to feel sticky because of the air's humidity. You can test this by holding a piece of notebook paper to your skin to see if it sticks for even a second or two.
Even if the water is trapped inside the walls, it will still evaporate, albeit slowly. As this happens, the moisture will become trapped, especially if your basement has no windows to allow for air exchange.
2. Fine, White Crystals Start to Form on the Walls' Surfaces
Another sign that may be missed if you are not looking for it carefully is the appearance of fine, white crystals on the surfaces of the basement walls. Unlike the white powder that is often associated with mildew, this residue will have a glint when you shine a flashlight on it.
This residue, which is known as efflorescence, is made up of minerals that come from the rocks and sand that make up the concrete. When water pushes through the concrete, these minerals are carried along with it. As the water on the surface evaporates, these minerals remain in their crystalline form.
Efflorescence itself does not harm the surfaces. However, it does show that the concrete is already sustaining damage. Not only is water seeping through the material, but it is also carrying away pieces of the material a little bit at a time. This will lead to the eventual deterioration of the structures.
If you notice the above signs, you most likely have a water leak somewhere in your basement. If you do not do something about it, there could be future structural damage or even mold growth that could affect your family's health. Contact a contractor who offers waterproofing services to have them inspect your basement and discuss your available options for stopping and preventing future leaks.