If you’ve seen pill bugs, millipedes or other creepy-crawlies milling around in your basement, it’s probably because they’re drawn to the moisture inside your home.
Sometimes, the presence of bugs in the basement is an early warning sign of foundation damage. Like all living things, bugs need water to survive, so — especially in hot, dry weather — they may seek refuge in damp basements, entering through cracks in the walls.
Basement walls will shift and settle over time, causing faint cracks to appear. But large cracks, stair-step cracks or cinder blocks that appear to have broken in half are signs that your foundation may be unstable. As the ground around your home expands and contracts, basement walls may weaken under the changing pressure, and that’s when large cracks may appear.
You may be able to see on basement walls where water has seeped in. Look near cracks and incoming pipes to see if the wall is discolored, or if any mildew or mold is present. If so, you may need to have a foundation repair professional take a closer look.
While pill bugs are harmless, other moisture-loving bugs aren’t so benign. Cockroaches love a dark, musty basement, and they are known to carry diseases. Carpenter ants are drawn to decaying, moisture-damaged wood, where they build tunnels and nests that can ruin floorboards and structural supports. The presence of either one of these pests may merit an inspection by a professional exterminator.
You can make your basement a less attractive hideaway for thirsty bugs by running a dehumidifier, promptly drying laundry and keeping the floor tidy, so they have fewer places to hide. Outdoors, make sure areas around windows, doors and spigots are free of gaps, and don’t allow moisture to accumulate next to your home. A leaky spigot against an exterior wall creates a natural pathway for bugs to enter your home and can contribute to moisture build-up in basement walls.