Excess moisture is a common problem in many homes, especially in damp areas like the basement. If your basement has excess moisture, you may find yourself with a variety of problems, ranging from mold to structural damage. Water leaks are a common cause of water damage inside homes. If your basement ceiling is leaking, you must locate the source of the leak and repair it to avoid potentially serious problems.

Diagnosis

It is sometimes difficult to locate the source of water problems in your home. Since basements are typically used for storage and are mostly unoccupied, water leaks can go undetected for long periods of time. A localized water spot on your ceiling is most likely caused by a water leak instead of high basement humidity. If your basement ceiling is leaking, you may notice discoloration or staining on the ceiling. Dark streaks or brown circular stains are an indication moisture is a problem. Your ceiling may or may not feel wet when these stains are present. A damp or musty scent may also be present inside your home or basement, which is indicative of excess moisture and possible mold growth.

Causes

Roof leaks can cause water to run down your home's foundation and damage your basement ceiling or walls. Basement ceilings may suffer damage from leaky plumbing pipes in showers, bath tubs and toilets. Unsealed gaps around windows above your basement is another cause of moisture damage. These gaps allow water to drain down the wall and onto your basement ceiling. When moisture runs into your basement and accumulates on the ceiling, it will eventually cause the drywall to break down and water to seep into your basement. Poor outdoor drainage systems can allow large amounts of water to seep into your foundation, which can result in water leaks as well.

Moisture Problems

Water leaks inside your basement will cause the material to deterioriate. When severe, the drywall must be removed and replaced, which can be a costly endeavor. When water seeps inside your home and lands on mold spores, mold may begin to grow and spread. Mold growth is unsightly and damages the structure of your home. Homeowners who are exposed to mold growth may suffer from a variety of health problems, including wheezing, hives or breathing difficulty.

Solution

Examine your roof to determine if you have leaking shingles, which causes water to trickle down your walls and into your basement. Hire a roofing contractor to repair any severe leaks. If leaking bathroom or kitchen pipes are the cause of the problem, hire a plumber for repair. Inspect your gutters around your home and clean them if necessary. Seal any gaps around your windows in your home to keep water from running into the basement. It is always important to direct water away from your home to prevent it from leaking into your basement and causing damage. Regrading your lot may be necessary if the ground is causing water to drain toward your home. After you repair the water leak, inspect your basement for signs of mold growth and remove it if necessary. You can remove small, localized areas of mold growth with liquid dish detergent and water. Scrub the mold away and dry. If your basement ceiling has a large area of mold growth after a water leak, call a mold remediation specialist for removal.