What Is A Michigan Basement: When Did It Originate And What Was It Used For, Modern Application?

Quite often people wonder what is a Michigan basement. Often, the term Michigan basement is encountered by people living in Ohio.

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What does Michigan basement mean?

If you have been trying to understand a Michigan basement for a long time, this is a classic term that refers to a crawl space under old farmhouses. Even city houses of old buildings have a similar design. Michigan’s former crawl space is damp, and there is no tight crawl space in them.

Many Michigan basements have low ceilings, cement walls, and an earthen floor.

In Michigan, they say that a Michigan basement is an old basement that is about 5-7 feet deep.

In this room, people equipped a full-fledged basement. The start of the excavation is 2 feet from the inside of the existing foundation walls. Thanks to this, the walls and foundation retain their integrity, so the room is very safe.

Historical information and operation

Previously, such a crawl space was built in such a way that food could be stored in them. People also took refuge in them when the storm season began. Such storm shelters, which were located under the houses, were often referred to as the “Long Island basement.”

After the 1920s, the original crawl space was deepened to create more storage space. Some people tried to transform the space by creating cinder block walls and pouring concrete floors. After that, split systems, water heaters, stoves, and laundry rooms with equipment began to be created in Michigan basements.

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Where exactly are the Michigan basements located?

You can meet such cellars in Michigan, which served as the formation of the name. However, such cellars are found in many houses that were built before the middle of the last century. The premises were equipped under old houses in the northeast of the country. If you have an old house, then it may have a Michigan basement.

The term Michigan basement is also found in the states of the Midwest. In other parts of the country, the premises are called differently. The following names are underground, root cellar, wine cellar, or old cellar. For a Michigan basement to meet all the criteria, it does not have to be in Michigan.

What problems does the basement face?

Most Michigan basements can have a few problems. More about the Michigan basement will be discussed below.


The earth is filled with moisture. Given that the Michigan crawl space is made of earth, it always experiences high levels of humidity. Because of this, fungi and mold can develop.

Even if you live in a region where there is practically no flooding, the Michigan basement is still underground. Therefore, the temperature regime is slightly lower than in the house. Warm air contains more moisture than cool air. That is why condensation begins to accumulate in rooms where it is cold.

The Michigan basement constantly maintains an identical temperature, which varies from 40 to 50 ℉ and completely repeats the temperature of the earth. As soon as the warm air coming from the house combines with the cold basement air, condensation will accumulate.

All moisture will accumulate on the floor and walls. Therefore, it is in these areas that you will notice mold.

Unpleasant odors

Due to the humidity in the Michigan basement, a musty smell begins to appear. This indicates that mold and fungus are beginning to form. After all, mold grows in a humid environment.

This is additionally facilitated by the darkness, which is observed in the Michigan basements. Yes, you can try to cover up the bad smell. However, the main reason for its appearance cannot be removed. Therefore, it is better to start solving the problem right away. Therefore, using a freshener will not be the best option.

The appearance of mold and fungus

The damp and dark rooms are ideal conditions for the development of mold and mildew. The fungus is considered a living organism, so it constantly grows and fills all surfaces with itself. However, it can cause mild or severe allergies.

Mold is a fungus that forms on surfaces. It’s pretty easy to remove it. If black toxic mold has formed, it can cause numerous health problems.

If you notice mold in the Michigan basement, then you should carefully inspect the entire room.

It is likely to be present in other parts. Therefore, it cannot be ignored. You need to start fixing the problem right away to prevent further damage.

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Wall slope

If the soil that is around is excessively moistened, the structural integrity of the even existing foundation walls begins to deteriorate.

If the rains have a positive effect on the plants in the garden, then they hurt the Michigan basement. Earthen walls begin to be saturated with moisture and become soft.

Under the weight of the main house, the basement can completely collapse. If the roof or surface runoff is not properly formed, the soil will become over-saturated. Therefore, the earthen walls sag, and the foundation is damaged.

Floors that sink

If your basement has a concrete floor, the water will encourage soil erosion under the floor itself. So, it starts to sag. After, the floor begins to detach from the wall, fraught with the foundation’s destruction. You need to correct the situation under the supervision of specialists.

Drain pump failure

If the drainage pump is installed correctly, excess moisture will not accumulate in the basement.

Therefore, the room is kept dry and safe. However, if a strong curtain passes, the house may be damaged. Especially if the pump fails. Try to check it regularly.

Basement cracks

During the year, as you know, the weather changes. Therefore, the earth can expand and contract. This causes cracks to form in the walls. They can also spawn on the floor. Because of this, water begins to penetrate, provoking various problems.

Leaks and floods

If the floor is open and the walls are made of rock or earth, moisture will seep inside. Therefore, a Michigan basement often has leaks and can be flooded. To prevent moisture, special protection against flooding and leaks will be required.

Ground floor openness

The exposed dirt is provided in Michigan basements. The walls on the sides are often improvised. Therefore, it increases issues with excessive humidity. Often there are issues with the makeshift side walls because of exposed dirt.

If they are absent, moisture penetrates better into the basement. Even if they are, then due to the trampled additional space, the support will be spoiled.

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How can waterproofing be done?

To prevent the penetration of moisture into the Michigan basements, you need to create effective waterproofing.

Insulation inside

Hydrostatic pressure can cause water intrusion, which causes numerous problems, including cracks in the walls and fungus.

To reduce pressure, an internal damp course is used. It leads water to the pump for drainage.

Waterproofing outside

This is a very effective option that helps to remove the earth from the walls. In doing so, the waterproofing will clean and recoat the walls. In this case, you can immediately identify and repair cracks.

Multiple-stage system

This option helps to quickly and effectively cope with high humidity. It also prevents future problems.

Foundation replacement

If you replace the foundation, you can prevent various difficult situations. However, the method is quite costly in finance. If you have suspicions that the Michigan basements are unsafe, then it is better to immediately replace the foundation with a better one.

Pros of Michigan basements

Michigan basements do not be as effective for owners of modern homes. Previously, such premises were very appropriate because people tried to prepare a large amount of conservation and vegetables.

Such places can be dug on their own, without spending a lot of money.

There is no need to call an inspector or contractor. Today, no one is trying to buy a house that has a Michigan basement.

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When it comes to a Michigan basement, there are a lot of questions to ask.

Can a Michigan basement be finished?

Almost all Michigan basements are made of blocks that are made of concrete. The walls are made of stone or brick. The floor can be earth, concrete, or stone. No more than 8 feet high. You can complete the basement; however, this requires additional financial investment. Therefore, it is better to estimate in advance.

Do Michigan basements flood?

If your home is complemented by a Michigan basement, you need to ensure proper waterproofing. This prevents the negative effects of penetrating water. Michigan basements are often flooded because they are underground, and groundwater comes close to them.

What is an unfinished Michigan basement?

If you live in Michigan, then you have an unfinished basement. Space is cut under the house and the floor is made of concrete slabs. The lighting in the Michigan basements is negligible.


As you can see, the Michigan basement has a lot of drawbacks. To eliminate them, it is necessary to ensure reliable waterproofing, and all work should be carried out together with specialists.

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James Derrick

If you have become a reader of my blog, you are thinking about how to properly equip your home. I want to say that together with my family we live in our own big house.

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