Below are the most common signs of basement water damage, how you can detect them, and what you should do to resolve them.

We recommend consulting with a professional to mitigate basement damage issues.

Water stains

Stains can sometimes be seen on the floor and other times in the walls. These are pretty obvious in some cases and in others less severe. One part of the wall or floor will look darker than the others, and you may even see mold residue start to build up in corners, the cove joint, or on basement stairs.


When we see water stains on the wall, generally we recommend the baseboard waterproofing system. When the stains are on the floor, it may mean a drain tile system will be necessary.

Standing Water

This is an obvious one, but is it also a very serious concern. If there is standing water in your basement, your first step is to clear the basement of water.

The longer the water sits on the ground, the higher chance damage will occur.


There could be an assortment of issues when you see standing water in your basement. Water could be coming from the floor or walls, and the issue may be with the gutters and downspouts, poor yard slope, or just a high water table that needs a better drainage system.

Damp or Wet Areas

Even if you don't see standing water, dampness can be a cause for concern. Oftentimes homeowners will recognize certain areas in their basement that tend to be more damp than others and recognize those spots as in need of mitigation. Pay attention to whether this is a one time event or if the issue has persisted several times. It may give a clue to the culprit.


This may be a basement humidity issue that can at least be partially resolved through a dehumidifier, but oftentimes it will involve installing a waterproofing system like the Dry-up Baseboard or a French drain system.

Mold or Mildew Growth

Mold cannot exist without moisture. That means if you see or smell mold in your basement, there is moisture lurking around, even if you can't see or feel it. If this is the case for you, it could mean your home's foundation was built on low ground, and the water surrounding the basement has consistently made its way through.


In the case where mold is present but standing or visible is not, we recommend a dehumidifier as well as checking to make sure the gutters are working properly. It may require a check of your yard's grade.

Rotting Wood

Homes can be built with wood support beams that extend from the ground vertically up to the ceiling. Age can be a factor in decaying or rotting wood, but water in your basement can also be a problem.


Generally these beams are found in the center of a basement, so if your walls show no sign of damage, it could mean the moisture levels are too high for your basement, or water is making its way up through the floor. In that case, we may recommend a floor drainage system, but more info is probably needed to verify the source of moisture.

Peeling Wallpaper or Paint

If your wallpaper or paint on your basement is wall is peeling, it could be from water issues. Sometimes water will seep through cracks in the wall or in corners and ruin your paint or wallpaper. It may seem frustrating, but a good way to look at this is you now know there's a basement water issue, and these issues will make it easier to find the source of the problem.


Exterior sealing can be done at times to resolve this issue. It may also require some yard grade work to ensure that water doesn't continue to funnel towards your basement's walls.


If you see a salty-like or powdery substance covering your basement walls or floor, it could mean damage has or is occurring to your basement from too much moisture getting in.


In this case, there could be an assortment of causes similar to ones mentioned previously. At times, an outside wall sealer will resolve this issue.

Rust or Corrosion

Rust can appear in areas of your basement, but again, moisture must be present. Various metals, including pipes, furnaces, support beams, window frames, and drainage systems can accumulate rust.


Sometimes rust and corrosion is just the normal life cycle of some items. However, there are some instances where rust may be a sign of leaks, faulty drainage systems and improper ventilation. This is one you may need to consult with a pro contractor about.

Bubbling Drywall

Bubbling drywall is typically caused by moisture intrusion in your basement. The integrity of the drywall is lost when moisture saturates it.


Check to make sure you don't have any leaky pipes in your basement. If there was a recent flooding, this may be the culprit and a new drainage system may be necessary. Improper humidity levels could also be the cause.

Cracks in Walls or Floor

If your basement is starting to see (or has had for many years) cracks in the wall or floor, oftentimes it has to do with water issues.


In floors, sometimes hydrostatic pressure will push upwards and cause cracks. Depending on the size of the cracks, a French drain may be needed.

Deteriorating Concrete

Concrete can deteriorate over time. It's important to identify the cause before taking action.


Freeze-thaw cycles can be the culprit in colder climates, like Minnesota. If your basement is exposed, it can deteriorate the concrete. A fresh floor may be necessary depending on the severity.

Sweating Windows

Are your windows (maybe egress) dripping water on a summer day? Typically this happens when warm air comes into contact with a cold surface.


Improve ventilation. Typically this is not a structural issue, but it can lead to mold growth. Check your humidity levels as well.

Warped or Buckling Floor

Leaning walls and warped floors are oftentimes an issue with moisture being absorbed into the structures. Over time, it can lead to structures that lack the integrity to stay upright.


A basement wall brace may be in order as well as a drainage system to make sure the issues don't persist.

Stained or Deteriorating Carpet

Carpet in a basement is not always a good idea, especially if moisture is present. The carpet can deteriorate, and it may even allow for mold to grow.


Removing the carpets is oftentimes required. Then you will need to dry out the area and keep it dry. Dehumidifiers can help, but it may be recommended to keep the floor bare without carpet in the future.

Rotten Cardboard Boxes

Ever entered into a basement to move some boxes, and the box crumbles in your hands? This could have been a past concern from where the box once sat, but if there are lots of damaged boxes, it may mean that your basement is the culprit.


Before coming to a resolution, it's important to identify why the cardboard boxes are rotten. Was there flooding? Is it simply too high humidity levels? A new drainage system may be necessary.

Insect or Pest Activity

Some insects and pests are attracted to moisture, such as mosquitos, cockroaches, spiders, flies, ants, crickets, and more.


While pest control may be required, it's important to track down where there is moisture in your basement. That's the first step, and the second step would be to figure out how they water got in. Only then could a full resolution be found.

High Humidity Levels

Humid basements are not comfortable. But outside of the comfort, they can be a sign of water damage in your basement. Or rather, they can lead to it.


Installing a dehumidifier is important, but a drainage system may also be necessary.

Visible Water Leaks

Another obvious one here, but visible water leaks will generally to water damage. Water and basements typically don't go together well.


Figure out where the leaks are coming from. Identify a drainage or waterproofing system that will stop the leaks in the future.

Sump Pump Constantly Running

If your sump pump is constantly running, it may be a sign you need a new sump pump. It may also be a sign that water damage is occurring, and the sump pump is alerting you of that.


Check to see if the pump is working properly. If it is, there is a basement leak issue that needs to be fixed. This could be a floor or wall leak, or it could be an exterior issue.

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