Do I need to fix basement moisture before installing furnace? How? : HomeImprovement

Hi! I’m in central Pennsylvania, at the top of a hill (this is relevant) in a town that has a serious problem meeting demand for construction, odd jobs, etc. My house was built in 1981, generally well maintained. We bought 4 years ago. We’re comfortably middle class but not rich and getting things renovated is taking some time. Part of the problem is the shortage of contractors in this town for small jobs. If you can get someone out, you’ll be overcharged (and that’s a big if). It’s such an established fact that it’s just accepted as being a “tax” for living in this area.

My problem: I have one corner of the basement that is damp. It doesn’t flood, I wouldn’t even call it wet, but it’s damp enough that one area of the carpet is sometimes wet. Here are pictures of the corner and of what’s above it outdoors.

We’re going to get a gas furnace and AC unit installed soon (we got the gas line run up to the house 2 years ago but right now it’s electric heat and no AC) and the furnace will likely go in this corner and the AC unit will go outdoors along this wall too. So far I’ve managed to get a company willing to do the AC/HVAC work but do I also need to get someone to take care of the moisture problem first? And, if yes, what will they likely need to do? So far the only company I can get hold of for the moisture is one that I know is going to give me a hard sell. (I know this because the quote confirmation said to plan on 90-120 minutes and both I and my spouse have to be there. I know what that means in terms of high pressure tactics).

Please help because I don’t know anything about how to fix this issue. I suspect it’s from A) some huge lilacs I took out last year–the roots were really hard to get out and were up against the foundation B) chipmunks C) a rainy area in general. LUCKILY, we live on top of a hill so water does drain away from us for the most part, just not in this one area. I would love to know your ideas and suggestions — I bet this company will tell me I need French drains and mold remediation (I don’t– we checked for harmful mold with independent lab testing before moving in. As basements go, this one is pretty dry). But at the same time I don’t want to install $20-$30K worth of equipment in an area that we need to repair but then can’t get to due to new furnace / AC so I need to take care of this first. One quote had the furnace in an area that’s more central in the basement and has no moisture issues. Should that be a factor in choosing which HVAC company to go with? Should I ignore the moist corner for now and put the furnace elsewhere? It affects where the ductwork will go, but it’s not that big a deal aesthetically.

And again, getting estimates and workers here is SO HARD. I know it could be August before the moisture and AC/Heat is all finally fixed and up and running. If you read this far, thank you!

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