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Top U.S. Cities in Need of Basement Repair

January 6, 2021

If your home is blessed with a basement and all the advantages they bring, you know they also come with a few challenges. That includes dampness, high humidity, leaking, and even flooding. That, in turn, means basement repairs.

Which U.S. Cities Need Basement Repairs the Most?

With data from Google Trends on the past 12 months of search inquiries for “basement repair,” we found:

Top 12 U.S. Metro Areas in Need of Basement Repair

  1.   Wichita-Hutchinson, KS
  2.   Fargo-Valley City, ND
  3.   Green Bay-Appleton, WI
  4.   Milwaukee, WI
  5.   Toledo, OH
  6.   Madison, WI
  7.   St. Louis, MO
  8.   Peoria-Bloomington, IL
  9.   Kansas City, MO
  10. Detroit, MI
  11. Des Moines-Ames, IA
  12. Buffalo, NY

U.S. cities that need basement repairs

All of these metro areas are in the Midwest except Buffalo in the Northeast, which is ranked at #12. On the larger list, the first southern areas are Roanoke-Lynchburg, VA, and Louisville, KY, at #16 and #17, respectively. The next northeast areas show up with Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY, at #18.

Seasonal Differences

Overall in the data, there wasn’t much difference month to month. However, search inquiries increased from mid-April into October, while the late fall and winter months were lower. Clearly, this is a seasonal issue, quite possibly driven by summer rain and storms. 

Regional Differences 

You can see from the above list and the nearby map that there are significant regional differences. In our earlier blog post on 15 Worst Cities for Flooded Basements we highlighted foundation construction trends.

There, we noted that few basements are constructed south of the Mason-Dixon line due in large part to soil conditions and water levels. 

Basements are popular in the Northeast and Midwest due primarily to winter conditions with a deep frost line. This means that foundations must be constructed below the frost line, and this makes basement construction cost-effective versus deep pilings. Plus, basements provide a number of advantages including additional living and storage space.

The chart below shows the regional differences based on information from the U.S. Census Bureau’s new home construction statistics from 2019.

new home basement construction by region 2019

Basement Problems — What to Watch For

All too often, the first indication that you need basement repair is a puddle of water on the floor. If you’re lucky, you’ll notice it very early before it moves into full flooding mode and causes major damage. 

The less obvious things can also lead to major damage and require repairs. Seepage, condensation, and smaller leaks you don’t notice can lead to mold and even rot in wood and carpeting. These things can accumulate over time and can often be difficult to notice until they become a much bigger problem. 

Here are the things to watch for:

  • Dampness. Basements can generally have higher humidity, but you’ll need to watch for dampness.
  • Mold and mildew. That dampness can lead to mold and mildew growth. The mold may be visible or you’ll smell it.
  • Rust stains. Watch the carpeting or walls to show rust stains from leaks. This can lead to small cracks that can grow into bigger problems.
  • Insects. Moisture will attract water bugs and other insects. This can be a clue to the potential for bigger problems.
  • Warped and rotted wood. Once moisture accumulates over time, it can penetrate and damage wood trim, flooring, and support structures. 
  • Visible Cracks. The basement walls and floor can show visible cracks. Plus, paint on the walls can bulge or crack.

Causes of Basement Problems

We’ve pulled together this short list of common causes of basement problems.

  • Condensation. Any time warm, moist air comes into contact with a cold surface, like your basement walls and floor, condensation forms. You can prevent this through better air circulation in the basement as well as insulation of the walls. 
  • Appliance leaks. Any appliances in your basement can be the source of increased humidity and even leaks. Those sources include condensation from HVAC units, overflow from washers, and leaky dryer vents pushing moist air into the basement instead of outside. Also, watch for leaky water heaters.
  • Exterior grading. Any rainfall needs to move away from your home before it can seep into the ground and build up around your basement. The ground should be graded to help water move away from the foundation.
  • Gutters and downspouts. Gutters collect rain off the roof, guide it to the downspouts, and then out to the properly graded runoff. Make sure your gutters aren’t clogged with leaves and that the downspouts are moving the water away from your basement.
  • Basement cracks. Small cracks can happen during normal settling. But they need to be sealed to ensure they don’t become major problems.
  • Blocked drainage system. This type of system keeps water levels below your basement through collection and drainage. If the system gets blocked the water will show up in your basement.

Basement Repair Options

Even if you don’t live in one of the leading metro areas for basement repair, the problems noted above need to be dealt with by professionals. That’s where we can help. A free inspection can determine the exact basement repair options you need.