Perimeter Water – On the House

Perimeter Water

By on January 26, 2014

We have just discovered water (moisture) underneath our new house and need your help and advice before our guarantee expires on September 1, 1990. I used a plant moisture meter instrument under the house as there was no evidence of puddles, but something we stored underneath the house had a musty smell. The moisture meter measured “wet”. On a scale of ten it measures an eight. The dial reads dry 1 to 3, moist 4 to 7, and wet 8-10. I put the metal rod into the ground only two inches which tells me that the water is just beneath the surface.

My questions are; 1) If there is proper ventilation, do we have anything to worry about as far as deterioration of the foundation, walls, etc? 2) Is there anything that can be done to correct this permanently? 3)Could this cause mold on the walls in our home?

Anything that you can suggest to help us would be appreciated!



The obvious question is; what were you doing storing something in the crawl space under your home? And, if it was something other than a fine vintage wine then the fact that it has a musty smell doesn’t surprise us.While we suggest that you make every effort to keep the crawl space under your home dry, it would be unrealistic to assume that this area is too damp just because something that you have stored there smells musty. Furthermore, although clever, we believe that the plant moisture meter may not be the most reliable testing device in this situation, especially since you are dealing with such a vast area. None the less, the fact that the moisture meter measures eight is not alarming. Excessive dampness in the crawl space could result in mold or mildew on the walls in your home especially if there is poor air circulation throughout the house.

Since your home is less than one year old its’ construction was subject to current building codes. Hence, there should be adequate ventilation in the crawl space to minimize the amount of moisture there. However, even with proper ventilation there are several other steps that you must follow in order to keep the space dry.

  1. First, make sure that all of the soil that surrounds the perimeter of your home is graded or sloped away from the foundation for at least three feet. This will prevent surface runoff from traveling under the home.
  2. Secondly, if your home doesn’t have rainwater gutters we suggest that you make this one of your pre-winter home improvement projects and install them around the entire house. It’s also important that all rainwater downspouts be connected to a drainage system that will take the water out to the curb and into the city storm drain system.
  3. And finally, be conscious of your watering habits around the perimeter of your home. Too much water or sprinklers that spray up against the house will keep your crawl space damp due to capillary action. If you do the preventative maintenance as we suggest above your entire home, and not only your foundation, will be better for it.

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