Why Do I Have Water in the Basement?

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29 October 2021 - 16:40, by , in Basement Waterproofing, No comments

Unfortunately, water in the basement is extremely common. From seeping in through foundation walls to coming up through the floor, there are several ways for water to enter your basement. We look at the four signs of water in the basement as well as explain how water leaks into your basement. Plus, we cover how to keep water out of the basement and stop basement leaks.

What Are the Signs of Water in the Basement?

The biggest sign of a problem is standing water in the basement. However, there are several other signs that you have water in your basement. You should check for water in your basement several times a year, especially after heavy rains or quick winter thaws.

  • Efflorescence– Do your basement walls sparkle? This sparkly white powder is called efflorescence. It is caused when water seeps through your basement walls.
  • Musty Odors– Does your basement smell? Whether the odor is persistent or just after heavy rains, it usually means you have a basement leak.
  • Mold– Do you have mold? Mold will grow on flooring or walls once they get wet. If you see mold, you have water too.
  • Stains– Are your floors, walls or ceilings stained or discolored? Dark spots or stains are a common sign of water in your basement. Most water stains are yellowish-brown, but they can also appear brown, black or green.

causes of water in the basement - poor drainage in basement window wells

What Causes Water in the Basement?

There are several reasons you have water in your basement. It’s the lowest point in any home, making it easy for water to collect there. Also, water pipes and sewage lines usually run through your basement walls or floor. Plus, water can seep into your basement through foundation walls or up through the floor.

Cracked Basement Walls or Floor

Cracks in your basement walls or floor are one of the biggest problems. Even the smallest crack will let water seep through your basement walls. Water can also come in through the gap between then your basement wall and floor.

Broken or Leaky Pipes

Since most water and drain pipes enter through the basement, a burst or leak can cause significant damage. Although less likely, your water and drain pipes can also leak.

Poor Drainage Around Your Home

Water should always drain away from your home to keep your basement dry. However, blocked gutters and even your landscaping will cause water to pool around your foundation. Cracks or worn-out waterproofing will then let water into your basement.

Open Floor Drains

Open floor drains are another common cause of water in the basement. If sewer lines are clogged, they can back up into your home. Although floor drains are most common in older homes, some newer homes have them as well.

Sump Pump Failure

Sump pumps keep water out of your basement by channeling it into a basin and then pumping it out. However, a problem with the pump or extremely heavy rainstorms will let water into your basement.

Water Heater Failure

Most hot water tanks hold 30 to 50 gallons of water and last three to twelve years. Whether it rusts out from old age or the valve malfunctions in some way, your water heater can lead to major damage.

causes of water in the basement - clogged gutters and downspouts

How to Keep Water Out of the Basement

There are several ways to keep water out of your basement. You can do most of these repairs on your own. However, you may need help waterproofing your basement or installing a new drainage system.

1. Clean Your Gutters and Downspouts

Your gutters and downspouts channel away all the water from your foundation. However, clogged gutters increase the chance of water in your basement.

Clean your gutters and downspouts at least twice a year to prevent clogs. Also, check that your gutters are in good condition and held firmly in place. Make sure that downspouts direct water away from your foundation and add extensions if necessary.

If downspouts connect to a drainage system, such as a sump pump, check that system as well. If you have a sump pump, make sure the discharge pipe connects to the storm sewers and not the sanitary sewers. Otherwise, this can cause a sewage backup.

2. Check Your Landscaping

Another way to keep water out of your basement is by checking the landscaping around your foundation. The soil around your home should always slope away from your foundation for at least three feet. If the soil is level or slopes toward your home, add more dirt to make sure water flows away.

Allow at least six inches of space between your foundation and your landscaping. Plant bushes at least two feet from your foundation, with trees at least three feet away. Make sure that your landscaping doesn’t retain water or impact the slope of your soil.

3. Repair Cracks and Gaps

One of the best ways to stop basement leaks is by fixing cracks and gaps as soon as possible. Hydraulic cement is the best for patching cracks in your basement foundation or floor. You can apply it even if there is water in the crack. While polyurethane caulk is an alternative for plugging foundation cracks, it doesn’t form as good of a seal.

For the best results, use a chisel or an angle grinder with a masonry blade to carve a v-shape into the crack. Then apply an even layer of hydraulic cement to the crack with a trowel. Make sure you press it firmly into the crack to create a good seal.

4. Fix Your Drain Tile

If water is already leaking into your basement, you may need to have your drain tile fixed. A damaged drain tile is usually the issue if the water is from coming up through the basement floor.

In some cases, it may be possible to flush or snake your drain tile, but it’s more likely that a section will need to be repaired. Since you’ll need to dig up part of your foundation, we suggest you hire a basement waterproofing company.

5. Install a Drainage System

Another way to stop basement leaks is by installing a drainage system. Although there are several options to keep water out of your basement, the most common is installing a sump pump.

A curtain stain is another common option. Similar to your drain tile, a curtain drain is installed around your foundation at ground level and keeps surface water from leaking into your basement.

Again, you need to dig up your foundation to make these repairs. For this reason, you should hire a basement waterproofing contractor.

6. Waterproof the Walls

Waterproofing the walls is another way to stop basement leaks. You can waterproof either the inside or the outside of your basement walls.

You can paint the interior of your basement walls with a waterproofing product. However, it’s much safer to hire a company if you plan to waterproof the outside of your basement.

If you are going to waterproof your basement yourself, you need to clean the walls first. Start by stripping any paint, then use a wire brush to remove loose material and other debris. You should patch any cracks as well.

When applying the waterproofing material, brush in all directions and work it into the foundation wall. Also, avoid spreading the waterproofing too thin otherwise it will not stop basement leaks.

Waterproofing the inside of your foundation walls will keep water out of your basement. This still allows water into your foundation, which can weaken it over time.

7. Check Your Plumbing

Although most of the dangers of water in your basement come from outside your house, water and drain pipes in your home could also cause an issue. One of the easiest ways to stop basement leaks is to check your sinks, bathtubs, showers and toilets regularly.

Tighten loose water lines and replace old or damaged parts right away. Another way to prevent water or sewage in your basement is to snake your sewers every few years. Most water departments provide free snaking services.

Also, only pour water and liquids down the drain. Even if you have a garbage disposal, avoid putting anything larger than a pea down your kitchen sink. You should never pour fats, oils, starches or coffee grounds down the drain. They can clog your sewers and lead to a backup.

In the bathroom, only flush toilet paper and normal waste. Avoid using so-called flushable wipes, as they don’t break down the same way as toilet paper. Also, use a hair catcher in the shower.

We Remove Water in the Basement

Whether you have water leaking in through basement walls or seeping up through the floor, let Restoration Local remove the water and repair the damage. If you have water in your basement, contact us today for a free estimate on water damage restoration near you.

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