When people think about protecting their homes from winter storms, they are usually more concerned about removing snow and ice – not water. However, heavy rains this winter have been some of the costliest ever, according to USA Today, and drying out after the storm will be a process that continues into spring.
While flooding is an obvious problem in a finished space; it’s just as important to keep crawlspaces and unfinished basements dry to avoid a musty smell or even worse – dangers to health.
Don’t Dismiss the Dangers of a Flooded House
Even small amounts of water can cause foundation damage, mold growth, musty smells and damage to tools and furniture. Resulting from local flooding, a small leak or just excess humidity, a wet crawlspace 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 complications 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
This winter has provided no shortage of weird weather and while warm temperatures may be welcome to some, increased precipitation and flooding in the central U.S. is wreaking havoc on homeowners, according to The Weather Channel. Protecting a home means preventing water from entering, and removing it properly afterwards.
- 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.