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Damp Musty Basement in NJ


So I was reading the article "Drying Out a Wet Basement" and have come to the conclusion that I may have all 3 issues (water sources).

Before I start to make some adjustments, I was wondering if my situation sounds strange?

The problem:
My basement is very damp and musty all of the time (the 4 months I have been living there). I know we have a high water table in my area, but have not heard complaints from any other neighbors yet.

Also the previous owners painted the walls and floor of the basement with something (grey, looks like what you would paint your cement garage with for aesthetics) and it is now starting to chip, bubble and fade everywhere (Started 4 weeks after moving in).

What I have:

  • The house has a French drain
  • Submersible pump
  • Dehumidifier (only works when the temp is above 65 degrees – kind of a bummer).
    What I know needs to be addressed:

  • The gutters down spouts are concentrating in too few areas.
  • Some cracks in the basement floor
  • The PVC pipe that exits the house from the submersible pump disappears into the ground about 2 feet from the exterior foundation wall and I have no idea where it goes.

Having said all of the above I am wondering if it makes sense to follow the article? In my amateur opinion the problem (stated above) outweighs the proposed solution (“what I know needs to be addressed”).

Any help would be great!!

Re: Damp Musty Basement in NJ

The basement in my parents' place in SE PA is very similar to yours. And they've had issues with damp, musty smells too. They had similar paint on the cinder blocks too and after it got too damp it would peel like you say.

Part of the reason there's got so damp was because of the way the water drained off of their roof. The front gutter led to a downspout on one end. That down spout went underground at the base of the house a few feet to a pipe, then turned 90 degrees to go away from the house about 10 feet then turned 90 degrees again to go down hill towards the back yard.

A top view (where the O is where the spout comes down):

The problem was that at one point enough leaves and the like got in the short length of pipe and the ground shifted such that from the base of the downspout to the long pipe was an uphill flow. In the winter some water pooled at the low end of that pipe at the base of the down spout, froze and the pipe broke, leading to water going right against the foundation in that corner.

Once they got the pipe fixed, cleaned the walls very good using scrubbing, bleach etc., repainted the walls, and got a new heavy duty dehumidifier, the problem has basically gone away.

So the moral of that story is are you sure there's not an external source of water (such as a leaking water pipe or drain pipe) that is causing water to run against your foundation? Does your sump pump run constantly?


Re: Damp Musty Basement in NJ

Note: with the font formatting the pipe picture looks wrong. The long pipe should be shown to the right. thx

Re: Damp Musty Basement in NJ

I too am a resident of NJ who faces the same problem. The township tells me that there is a high water table in our area, but I have to wonder why my neighbors aren't experiencing the same problems I am. My sump pump runs constantly. I had the same issue of the drain from the sump pump going down into the ground to an undisclosed destination. It wasn't until we had our first flood (one month after we moved in) that we dug it out. The previous owners had the overflow draining directly into the public sewer system. The mulch they had covered it in had gotten clogged, so the water, with nowhere to go came back into the basement. The basement is finished, yet we endured moldy, smelly unhealthy conditions until we had a fire one year into our move to the house. The fire started in the basement (electrical). The fire forced us to remove all the walls that were left. The mold was black in spots. Some rocket scientist had installed R-19 insulation and put the vapor barrier directly against the concrete wall, then covered it all with paneling. We began looking for an outside source. The problem was that the cement driveway ran the entire legnth of the left side of the house. The cement basketball court ran a distance after that. Where the two met was a dip in the leveling, creating a small valley. When it rained the water constantly puddled in that area which was directly against the side of the house. Once we leveled the area, we had no additional problems. It also makes us rest easier because we have installed a system called the "Guardian" It is a backup system to our sump pump that works off water preasure. If we ever have a power outage or the sump pump fails, the guardian kicks into action and does the work of the sump pump. Good luck!

Re: Damp Musty Basement in NJ


I have a damp, musty basement as well, but I also know we need a sump pump and that woul eliminate some of the problem.

Re: your humidifier. If you haven't solved the problem yet, check out the Danby DDR4588EE or the DDR451 dehumifier. We have it set to continuously drain and it runs all year, when necessary, even in winter. It is great and has cut down our humidity by half.

The grey paint may be a waterproofer that the previous owner thought would solve the damp issue. Our basement looked pristine until the first bad rain. Now the paint on the floor is peeling up and looks horrible.

I have not solved the smell issue. I also have pets and they make the basement smell worse. I have heard that washing everything down with bleach and water does the trick, but I have tried that before and I can tell you that it is only a short term fix.

If you have figured out a way to solve your problem, I would love to hear how you did it. E-mail me with your solutions!

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