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3 Low Cost Ways to Manage Runoff and Prevent the Humidity and Damp that Cause Mold

Rick Bayless, owner of A Healthier Home, offers his expertise with some tips to help you enjoy your home for many years to come.

Heavy rains, coupled with humid temperatures, play havoc with basements and crawl spaces across the Southern Appalachians. As temperatures and water levels rise, so do problems with humidity and damp that lead to mold and mildew problems in our homes.

Here are 3 low-cost things you can do right now to mitigate runoff issues that affect your home every time it rains.

1. Check your downspouts and guttering

The goal of downspouts is to move water away from the house. So if those outlets intended to direct rainwater on the roof of your home are dumping too close to the foundation, your guttering could be adding problems, not subtracting them.

This is also true if your gutters are dumping water into rain barrels. If you’re using rain barrels as part of your storm water management system, you can learn more about what is needed here.

In low-traffic areas, consider installing downspout extensions to move the water several feet away from the house. In high traffic areas, consider digging a shallow trench and installing a permanent, underground drain pipe. Moving water farther from your house – and reducing the dampness in your basement and crawl space – will be worth it.

Estimated $10/foot for a pro, the cost of materials and elbow grease if you do it yourself

2. Seal gaps and cracks in the basement floors, walls

Sealing gaps and cracks in basements is always a good idea. In these beautiful mountains, where radon rises from the earth and gets trapped in homes, it’s a first line of defense for safer air quality. By that same token, sealing gaps and cracks in basements also reduces the amount of moisture that gets into the basement.

In these parts, storms can start quickly and dump water rapidly onto the landscape. Plugging holes stops overflow from runoff, and helps eliminate seepage from saturated soil.

Estimated $20 for a good quality polyurethane caulk of hydraulic cement and a few minutes of your time to reduce dampness that leads to mold overgrowth.

However, if the water is rising from below or coming in through the place where the wall and floor meet, then the problem is groundwater. You’ll need a second opinion to determine next steps and the best course of action.

3. Improve the lay of the land

Next time it rains, grab an umbrella and your garden boots and take a few minutes to observe the way the water flows around your house. Is surface water draining away from your house?

Generally speaking, you want the soil around your house to slope away from the house, about a half foot for every 10 feet.

In older houses, the soil and foundation settle. An enterprising homeowner will want to build back that slope, one shovel full at a time. You will find the kind of clay loam soil you need at a good landscaping supplier, and they deliver.

There’s an exception to this scenario. If your home’s siding falls less than half a foot from the soil, you’re risking rot and termites. In this case, choose to redirect the water before it reaches the house. A berm, a mound of dirt, or a swale, a side, shallow ditch, are easy alternatives. Add attractive landscaping designed to enhance the effect.

Estimated cost: from a few hundred dollars to about $1,000 based on your home’s particulars

Stopping mold and mildew at the source is good for the healthiness of your home’s occupants and protects your investment. If these low-cost solutions don’t solve your home’s problems with dampness and humidity, A Healthier Home can help.