Top tips keeping your cellar dry

If you're looking for a way to add living space to an existing home, without a lot of added expense or the hassle of an extension, then one option might be to consider going down. Of course, not every home has a cellar, but for those that do, the basement is often a dark, damp and musty space that's just used for storage.

However, it can actually be pretty easy to convert a basement into a lovely living space - and one of the most important steps in converting a cellar is to get the waterproofing right.

Water ingress into a basement can cause serious damage if it's not prevented - and even if you don't want to use a cellar as living space, it's a good idea to take steps to prevent moisture from getting in.

There are various methods available, depending on the way your basement was constructed and how you plan to use it. Tanking, for example, uses a special render to hold back water. Drained cavities, on the other hand, involve dry-lining the walls with a membrane and then installing plasterboard over it - a sump pump and underfloor channeling are used to then move water away and out of the building.

However, it's important to remember that once your cellar has been properly waterproofed, the work isn't over. You'll need to carry out regular maintenance and repair work to ensure that your underground living space stays warm and dry. Here are some things to think about:

  • Guttering and downspouts - Guttering is located on the roof, so it might seem like it has nothing to do with the basement, but if your gutters aren't kept clear, or the downspouts aren't operating correctly, then it could lead to floods in your basement. That's because gutters and waterspouts are designed to transfer excess water to a specific point, where it can drain away. If the guttering or downspouts start flooding, however, the water could end up in your cellar.
  • Regular inspections - You need to check the walls and floor of the basement regularly to ensure there are no cracks or other damage. Mould, mildew and damp patches can also be signs that something's going on - and don't forget to check your sump pump too. Remember that small problems will be cheaper to fix early on, rather than allowing them to become big, expensive issues later on.
  • Check your landscaping - Try to ensure that the landscaping outside is designed in a way that helps to keep moisture away from the foundations. If you live in an area where it snows, avoid allowing snow to build up right next to the house. When it melts, the water could end up in your cellar.
  • Invest in a dehumidifier - Even with the best waterproofing, some basements can still feel just a little bit damp. In most cases, this can easily be fixed with a dehumidifier. These devices are relatively cheap to run and don't take up much space, but they can make a big difference to the comfort levels of a converted cellar. It's generally recommended to keep the relative humidity level at 50 per cent.