Mistakes to Avoid When Remodelling Your Basement

by | Mar 28, 2019 | Basement

If you have an unfinished basement, you’re probably anxious to finish it and convert it into a more comfortable and usable space. Remodelling an unfinished or finished basement is an excellent way to add value to your home, and it gives you a place to relax and socialize. As exciting as it is to finish a basement though, there are some pitfalls to be aware of. In this guide, you’ll learn some mistakes to avoid when remodelling your basement.

Remodelling a Flood-Prone or Damp Basement

Because of their construction, basements are more susceptible to flooding and moisture, particularly in areas below sea level. A basement is, at its simplest, a porous underground concrete box. When the soil becomes saturated, hydrostatic pressure pushes water against your home’s foundation, and that moisture will find a way into the basement. Additionally, floods caused by water heater malfunctions and plumbing leaks are a constant risk. Without adequate drainage, a good sump pump, and dehumidification, your basement won’t be dry enough for remodelling.

Mistakes to Avoid When Remodelling Your Basement

Using Fibreglass Insulation, Drywall, and Wooden Studs

Though these materials have been used with great success in above-ground construction, they can spell disaster during a basement remodelling project. As mentioned before, basements are very humid places, and wood, fibreglass, and paper are all highly absorbent. When moisture is combined with organic materials, you’ve got the right conditions for mould and mildew growth. Finish your basement’s walls with waterproof, inorganic materials that can stand up to a water leak or a flood.

Sitting Room Interior in the Basement

Not Inspecting Window Frames

When basement windows are installed, inspect the frames to ensure structural soundness and proper sealing. Apply weather stripping and caulking to keep moisture from getting in, and check with your city’s building department before completion, as codes may require a larger egress window.

Using Cork, Hardwood, or Wooden Sub-flooring

You’ve already learned that the basement isn’t the right place to use organic building materials. Though a manufacturer might claim that such products have been chemically treated for mould resistance, it’s crucial to read the fine print before committing. Look for a basement flooring option that’s specially designed to withstand prolonged high humidity.

Improper Vapor Barrier Usage

Many contractors will tell you that using poly sheets between the studs and drywall will allow for the use of almost any type of finish. Though a vapour barrier may be useful in some applications, it will only cause further issues if it’s used in basement renovations. According to the Department of Energy, moisture from the basement’s floors and walls should be permitted to evaporate. Using plastic sheeting only does one thing: it traps water vapour between the barrier and the outer wall, leading to mould growth.

Building Constructor Installing Poly Sheets

Not Installing More Than One Sump Pump

Every year, Americans spend millions on flood cleanup and restoration. To make things even worse, the damage isn’t covered under a standard homeowner’s insurance policy, and even flood insurance has coverage limits for basement damage. Also, if the basement is fully waterproofed and has a functional sump pump, without a battery-operated backup pump, you’re susceptible to flooding. The storms that flood basements also cause prolonged power outages, which render pumps useless. With a battery backup, you’ll be protected in the event of an outage or a pump failure.

Repairs and Maintenance of Basement

Preventing Access to Important Equipment

Once you’ve decided to finish the basement, you’ll be anxious to hide all that unsightly equipment. Though putting up a wall may keep the sump pump and water heater out of sight, you’ll still need occasional access. Be sure to leave enough room for repairs and maintenance when it’s necessary.

Forgetting About Moisture Control

Although good waterproofing and proper basement remodelling practices will make things much better, in some cases, it won’t be enough to keep the basement dry. Because of the temperature difference between your basement and above-ground rooms, the basement’s moisture level will be a bit higher. At moisture levels above 60%, mould will begin to grow, especially on organic materials. A musty-smelling basement is an indication of mould growth; even if it’s not visible, it’s probably there. Monitor the basement’s moisture level and use a dehumidifier to keep it at 55% or below.

In Conclusion

Although these mistakes all fall into the moisture prevention category, they’re easy to overlook, and they may end up causing thousands of dollars in water damage. By taking the right precautions when dealing with flooding and drainage issues, you will save time, frustration, and money on your remodelling project. If you’re unsure of the right way to handle the job, a local contractor can provide valuable advice and help you avoid the most dangerous basement remodelling mistakes.

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