Wetness is a very common problem in homes that have a basement. Sometimes it is a noticeable wetness, like puddles in the corners or color changes. Other times, the clues are less noticeable and may involve just a musty smell that you notice when you venture into the basement or mildew and mold on boxes or other items that are stored there. Often, a basement will become damp and wet if there is water that is not drained away from it properly. If your soil stays wet near your home it can seep in through concrete walls that are not treated. Regardless of what causes it, you should know that there are ways to improve the waterproofness of your basement walls and floors.
One of the most effective ways is often not the most economical. It involves you excavating the land around your basement to try and add in a better drainage system around your home. Other outside options include making sure your gutters are working properly and perhaps extend them further out so that the rain is directed to an area further from your home.
If you are not ready to commit to waterproofing the outside of your home, you can first try to waterproof the interior area of your basement. To do this, you should first fill any cracks that you can find with a caulking that is designed for masonry use. After that, you can paint the interior walls using a cement coating, a silicate based sealer, or an acrylic paint. All of these options can be brushed on, though the coating requires a heavier duty brush to apply it. Most of the paints may require more than one coat, but if it stops the water, you will feel better about storing your items in the basement.
If you smell something musty in your basement, but you cannot feel the dampness seeping in, you can test the walls and floor to see where your problem may be found. To do this, you need a good sized piece of tin foil and some tape that will stick to concrete. You need to place the foil down and tape around each edge. In a day or two, check the tin foil to see if there is moisture on either side. If you have moisture on the side away from the wall, there is dampness in the basement that does not come from the wall. If it is toward the wall, you may have to waterproof the outside of your home.