Many of us don't spend a lot of time in our basements, especially if they are unfinished. Maybe you head downstairs once a week to do laundry, or pull something out of storage. You may think "out of sight, out of mind" for your basement, but there are a lot of subtle things you should look for that could lead to larger problems down the road. Keep an eye out for these common symptoms of water: The first subtle sign of moisture in your basement is dry rot.
Dry rot affects the wooden beams on the walls and ceiling of your basement, turning them spongy and flakey when they absorb the water in the air. You may even see small pieces of wood accumulate beneath the infected boards. Noticing more cobwebs or bugs in the far, dark corners? They could be coming through tiny cracks and holes that are created by exterior water pushing through the foundation. Lots of basements have metal support beams and poles.
Powdery rust isn't a symptom of an old house, but happens when there is too much moisture in the air. Accumulation around the base of the pole and flaking paint can be easy to spot as an issue. Does it look like there's white, powdery tufts of hair on portions of your walls? That would be efflorescence, crystalline salt deposits that grow on the surface of brick, stone or concrete when water is present either on top of or inside of the wall itself. Think that every basement has just a little bit of mold? Think again!
While you may have heard that small amounts of mold are normal on the walls and concrete, mold likes to grow. And what started as a small amount can rapidly become a larger area that breads harmful toxins. All of these signs may seem small, but they add up. They may not be a huge issue today, but six months, a year, two years from now you could be looking at a much larger problem.