Your basement walls are hopefully in good condition, but that is far from guaranteed. Basements are often vulnerable to a wide variety of problems, especially those which are poorly maintained.
Many of these problems are minor. Others seem minor, but are actually quite serious, such as mold and mildew. In extreme cases, your home's walls may actually be damaged. Naturally, preventing damage before it occurs is preferable to rebuilding your walls after they have fallen apart.
This list of straightforward things you can do to keep your basement walls in good condition should help you catch problems before they become unsolvable.
Unwanted moisture is often a direct cause of damage to basement walls. Water can cause wood to rot easily. Even if it is not a direct cause, it is often a contributor. For example, termites need a moist environment in order to survive. They will not damage your home if it is kept dry consistently.
Because of that, moisture is the biggest threat to your basement walls. While there is a lot you can do to prevent your basement from being wet, the best thing you can do is keep your house maintained properly and catch leaks of all kinds before they do too much damage.
Leaks from pipes can be particularly problematic. If you hear water when you are not using any, or you notice a sudden drop in water pressure, as well as cracked and damp walls, call a professional immediately. Roof leaks can be just as bad; they have similar symptoms.
Insulating your basement properly can help keep it dry. Air leaks bring moisture from outdoors into your basement, causing many problems which include structural damage. Insulation is a great way to block air leaks, thus keep unwanted humidity outside, where it belongs.
External or internal basement waterproofing keeps your basement dry as well. Basements are particularly vulnerable to moisture, as they are usually underground, thus directly exposed to wet soil.
Preventing moisture penetrating the walls is the only solution. It can be done in a variety of ways. When building a new home, builders can use either a sealant or a solid membrane to keep moisture out during the construction of the basement. You can also install a drainage system to move water away from your basement and pump what little gets in.
A dehumidifier can keep your basement free of unwanted moisture as well. Air conditioners have a similar effect. Start it on the lowest setting as a test, then gradually turn the settings higher if it is clear that not enough humidity is being removed. Dehumidifiers use a lot of power. If your home is prone to shortages or uses other power hungry appliances, that may be a problem.