Here in the Pacific Northwest, buying a home can be a risky proposition (and that’s not just because of the white-hot housing market). Given our region’s wet weather, water damage in homes is extremely common. And while many home sellers will disclose any sort of water damage a home has experienced, not all will. For those who have never dealt with water damage previously, it can be tricky to know just what signs to look for.

If you’re looking at buying a house in Portland or anywhere else in the Pacific Northwest, keep reading to learn the tell-tale signs of water damage in a basement. 


Risks of buying a home with water damage

Whether you are buying a home with known water damage or if you believe there is undisclosed damage, the risks are the same. In addition to being more likely to leak or flood again than other basements, water damage can wreak havoc on your basement and foundation in many costly ways, including:

  • Damage to the drywall, which can spread if the basement has been severely flooded
  • Ruined insulation in the walls and ceilings of the home
  • Weakened structural support
  • Rampant mold and mildew throughout the home, resulting in dangerous air quality

It is crucial that you find out about any water damage prior to purchasing a home. Once you’ve signed on the dotted line, the responsibility will fall on you to fix the issue — and it can be a costly project to complete!


6 signs of a water-damaged basement 

While in many homes severe water damage will be disclosed or extremely obvious, there are many scenarios where it may not be as apparent. When viewing a home, ask questions about water damage and the home’s foundation.

If you spot any of the below issues and it has not been disclosed, we recommend that you don’t bid on the home. If you love the home and still would like to make an offer, bring up the damage and try to negotiate a lower price.

In any case, be on the lookout for the following signs of water damage in a basement — and contact Rock Solid Waterproofing if you need a second opinion!


1. Moisture spots on the floor or walls of the basement

This one may seem obvious, but unless looking closely these signs of moisture can often be missed. Wet spots or puddles are sure signs that there might have been water damage in the past, and could arise from anything from a crack in the foundation, a leaky pipe, poor drainage from the yard, or any other number of issues.

Any moisture in the basement is never a good sign, so at any sign of moisture (particularly enough to cause a puddle or large spot) investigate and ask questions. Additionally, look for any large dirt or debris spots. This could be a sign of a prior leak or water damage. 


2. Visible mold or mildew

Any sign of mold or mildew is a serious red flag. Since basements are generally poorly ventilated, any water at all can cause rampant growth of mold or mildew. To make matters worse, this is one of the most dangerous signs, as it can cause health issues such as allergies or respiratory illness. 

While mold can be located in hidden spots, take a look for mold damage on walls or carpet, or even on items stored in the basement.  


3. A musty or pungent smell

Be on the lookout for a musty or pungent smell in the basement. This is almost always due to mold or mildew growth, or issues with water leaking into the basement through cracks in the foundation. This issue can often also be recognized if the basement feels humid.

A sump pump can be a good fix for this issue, but this solution can be costly. So if you notice this issue, discuss and negotiate the cost for the treatment into the price of the home.


4. Cracks or crumbling concrete 

This is one of the easiest things to spot, as cracks are often on the walls or floors and are usually surrounded by white mineral deposits or crumbling concrete. 

These cracks are caused by poor drainage around your home, causing water to push up against your foundation and increase the size of any cracks in it. Water seeping into your basement is just as dangerous as a leaky pipe, and can cause mold growth and weaken your home’s foundation. 

While sealing cracks is possible and can be a part of a solution, you will need to divert water away from the home to truly fix the problem.


5. Peeling or flaking paint and discolored walls  

When your basement is moist or humid, any painted walls will begin to flake or peel due to the excess moisture in the air. It can also be caused when water pushes through cracks in the foundation, or by leaking or sweating pipes. 

Additionally, stains on the walls are an extremely common sign that groundwater is seeping into the basement. Groundwater has naturally occurring minerals in it, leaving behind the minerals once the water dries. Any sign of this phenomenon will require further investigation.


6. Uneven floors 

One of the most costly problems to fix is an issue with the soil underneath your foundation. The sign that this is occurring? Often it is a sinking or uneven floor in the basement. If drainage is poor around a home, water pools under the basement and can cause soil erosion and MAJOR structural issues with the home.


Need help fixing or identifying water issues in a home?

At Rock Solid Waterproofing, we specialize in solving the most complicated water issues in homes and businesses in the Pacific Northwest. We can help identify water issues and solve any issues you’re experiencing with a newly purchased home.

Contact us today for a free estimate. We’re always here to help!