Finding Signs of Water Damage in Your Basement and How to React

Water Damage floor

Water damage is a prevalent issue that many home and business owners have to deal with. This is because of the various ways that water damage can occur. No matter what causes water damage on your property — whether it’s weather conditions like heavy rain or unnatural causes like pipe bursts or leaks — it is an issue that must be addressed right away.

sump pump water damageMany building materials, such as wood and drywall, are porous. This means that they absorb excess water and moisture which jeopardizes their structural integrity. Additionally, this water damage makes affected materials a potential breeding ground for mold.

The more time water damage goes unaddressed, the more time the water has to continue spreading throughout your property, worsening the damage and creating an even bigger problem. Knowing this, the sooner you spot the water damage, the sooner you can get the problem fixed.

Basements are areas that tend to experience water damage by flooding, so home and business owners should pay close attention to them. Heavy rain that seeps into your property, a malfunctioning appliance, or a pipe burst can lead to flooded basements and, subsequently, serious water damage. However, a basement doesn’t need to flood in order to be damaged by water. In fact, it may not always be easy to notice that your basement has suffered water damage. There are a couple of signs you can look out for that will help you determine whether your basement has suffered any water damage.

Use the following information as a guide on how to identify signs of water damage in your basement and how to react.

Signs of Water Damage in Basements

Mold Growth

Mold Damage
Mold damage in basement

A natural substance, mold grows when the environment provides the spores with the proper conditions of moisture and an organic food source. Many common building materials contain cellulose, which mold uses as food. That said, if building materials are water-damaged, then mold growth is likely to develop in response to the damage. In such a case, not only does the water damage need to be addressed immediately but the mold growth, too. This is because mold will continue to grow, spread, and ruin your property’s structure, and exposure to the fungus can lead to negative health effects.

Musty Odors

When mold develops, it may give off a musty odor. Since mold growth occurs as a result of moisture, any lingering musty odors you encounter in your basement could indicate that there is water damage and a mold issue.


If you notice that your basement’s foundation, walls, or floor has cracks, this is a cause for concern. Not only can water enter through these cracks, but the cracks may have formed because of water or even ice that is placing pressure on your property’s structure. Cracks don’t always lead to problems, though. Generally speaking, hairline cracks aren’t too concerning, but if the crack exceeds 1/16th of an inch in width, then you need to get the crack fixed before larger problems arise.

Deteriorating Materials

When exposed to water and moisture, building materials become prone to deterioration. With more exposure to water and/or moisture, building materials will weaken and break down. This can cause them to flake and the paint to peel off. While these signs can simply indicate age, basement water damage can be to blame as well. That said, pay attention to any deteriorating building materials in your basement.

Stains and Discoloration

When walls, and sometimes floors, experience water damage, they will become stained and discolored. Usually the water stain appears as a yellowish-brown color, so if you spot such stains on your basement’s walls, then there might be water damage.

Sinking Floors

A sinking floor isn’t always immediately noticeable, but it is a problem. If you do notice such a change, then this could mean you have a damaged foundation or soil erosion beneath the foundation. This issue is serious, because without a structurally-sound foundation, your property will become unstable.

How to React to Water Damage in Basements

water damage - Dehumidification ServicesRegardless of how your basement has suffered water damage and to what extent, immediate action is always the best. This is because immediate action limits the damage from spreading and further harming your property’s structure and reduces the risk of mold growth.

In some cases where the damage is minimal, you may feel that you’re equipped to handle and resolve the problem on your own. However, it is always recommended that you have a professional conduct work on water damage in your basement because professionals have the proper knowledge and equipment to correctly and thoroughly handle any case of water damage.

Additionally, sometimes there’s mold growth, and sometimes there’s standing water that has been contaminated by sewage. Both mold and sewage-contaminated water are hazardous to your health, so you’ll want to keep your distance and let the professionals handle it.

Using InstaScope, a certified operator can instantly differentiate between rooms with normal airborne mold levels that need no treatment, rooms with elevated airborne mold levels which may require a simple cleaning by a mitigation professional and rooms with higher airborne mold levels and an active mold source that may require targeted mold remediation.

In the event that your basement has suffered water damage and/or needs flood cleanup, get in touch with ServiceMaster NCR for the water damage restoration services that we provide. Our technicians will fix the source of the water, extract excess water and moisture, thoroughly dry out your basement, restore/repair affected materials and objects, clean and disinfect the basement, remove any mold or mildew from the space, and deodorize your property.