When your home's basement remains wet, you may already be aware of the structural damage that can occur. But you may not be aware that a damp basement can also pose serious health risks to your household. Below are potential health hazards of neglecting to waterproof your basement that could adversely affect you and members of your household.
1. Bacteria Flourishes in Damp Basements
When your basement stays damp, the air becomes thick and stagnant. The air contains microscopic water molecules as the water evaporates and the humidity increases. While a humid basement alone isn’t bad, it can quickly create problems.
For example, if anyone in your household is sick, especially with a respiratory infection, the bacteria from their illness can travel throughout your home through the HVAC ducts. When the germs reach your basement, they become trapped in the moist air.
Then, thanks to the moisture and darkness of the basement, the bacteria not only thrive but flourish. The air and surfaces in your basement then become a virtual petri dish of viable disease-causing germs.
These germs can then make their way back up into your home. Once there, the bacteria can either reinfect the person who was sick or spread the infection to other members of your household. If the dampness is not taken care of, this vicious cycle can continue, with new bacteria from other illnesses adding to the mixture.
2. Dust Mites Prefer the Humid Environment
You can find dust mites anywhere in your home. However, they mostly prefer areas where the air's humidity is extremely high.
Especially if your basement is unfinished and not often used, it creates an ideal environment for dust mites. The dust and dirt that collect there give the mites a natural habitat. And if you add in moisture from a damp basement, dust mites can grow in numbers fast.
Unfortunately, the dust mites and their byproducts will not stay in the basement. The mites may travel throughout your house looking for food. Or their shedded skin and fecal matter can become airborne throughout your air ducts. If anyone in your household is allergic to dust mites or has severe asthma, they will most likely see an uptick in their symptoms.
Unless the water problem in your basement is sealed, and the humidity is brought down to below 50 percent, the dust mites will continue to flourish. And your or your loved one's symptoms will only increase.
3. Rodents Attracted to Water Carry Diseases
The moisture and water do not only attract small organisms like bacteria and dust mites. The humid conditions created by a damp basement also attract the furry kind, especially rodents.
Once they take up residence in your basement, mice and rats can cause a great deal of destruction. They start to chew through walls, clothes, and old books. But these rodents pose a much greater risk than property damage. As the rodents make their way through your walls and piles of clutter, they leave behind a lot of droppings. Within these droppings, bacteria, viruses, and fungi lay dormant.
The germs in the droppings can then contaminate the surfaces they touch, as well as the air. When dust that has come into contact with the fecal material goes through your air vents, it can be breathed in by your household members.
If anyone in your family is young, old, or has an already compromised immune system, they are at risk of contracting a serious illness, such as a hantavirus infection. If anyone in your family has low immunity, a wet basement could make them seriously ill.
If you allow your basement to stay damp, you are putting your and your family's health at risk. Contact All-Systems Waterproofing Inc. to schedule an appointment to have one of our professionals inspect your basement. We can then discuss with you options for drying out and sealing your basement.