Basements in older homes are desirable and undesirable in roughly equal measure. On one hand, many of these subgrade spaces offer room for storage, mechanical systems, and potential living space. On the other, any hole in the ground tends to fill with water. No matter what age the house, trying to have the benefits of the former without the problems of the latter is a continuing challenge.
Basements are common in some areas and rare in others, depending on when and where the house was built, the climate, and the difficulty of excavation. Types of below-grade space vary as well, from crawl spaces with four feet of headroom or less, to full-height “daylight” basements built at grade. Whatever type of basement you have, if the water that wants to collect there isn’t vented or drained away, it will inevitably make its impact felt in one undesirable way or another.
Even if you’re not interested in adding a man cave or media room, dampness in the basement is not harmless. It creates an optimum environment for the growth of harmful mold, water penetration that can ultimately undermine the foundation, and wood-boring insects that can eat the house from within.