Anyone with a basement in their home can tell you that they can be really useful. They can be used to store household items, create a music or craft studio, or even serve as an extra bedroom.
Unfortunately, many homeowners find that they can get water in their basement. This can have multiple causes and can be quite concerning.
Water in Basement
The good news is that a lot of homeowners have to face this problem, but there are fixes that can be done to prevent it from happening again, or at least minimizing the possibility of it happening again. The trick is to work out what’s causing the water to leak into the basement in the first place and then work out a fix.
Why Do Basements Flood?
Unfortunately, all basements are vulnerable to flooding because they sit below ground level. Water flows into areas where there is least resistance, and this means that anything below water level is prone to flooding.
What Are the Signs?
Of course, a lot of homeowners don’t even know what to look for when it comes to a leaky basement, so it’s useful to be able to identify the signs. Neglecting to fix a leaky basement can be expensive, so it’s useful to understand what to look out for so that it can be addressed in a timely manner. Consider the following as symptoms of water in your basement:
- Puddles of Water
If you happen to see pools of water on your basement floor, it’s a good bet that there’s a leak somewhere. This is the most obvious sign of a problem, but many of them are quite subtle.
- Mineral Deposits
When water gets into bricks and masonry, it carries with it salts and other minerals. This often leaves a white powdery residue that is called efflorescence. If you see this on the walls in your basement, the likelihood is that there is water getting in somewhere.
- Mildew and Mold
Mold and mildew love moist conditions, especially when it’s a little humid. The big problem with something like black mold is that the spores that are released can cause allergies and other health problems in some people. This can range from migraines and respiratory problems to depression.
If you notice that there’s mold or mildew growing inside of your basement, especially on the walls, there’s moisture getting in somewhere and making it a good habitat for growth.
If you find a layer of rust on metal items in your basement, the chances are good that moisture is getting inside. Now, it could be that the rust is not recent and that it was caused elsewhere, but it’s certainly one sign of a water leakage issue.
Water stains on the floors in your basement often look like black, brown, or gray circular patterns. This indicates that water is getting inside.
This water damage often goes unnoticed because it sits under appliances and other items that people might be storing in their basement. In this sense, it’s worth checking around and moving things to check to see if there is any water staining.
- Wet and Rotting Wood
When wood gets wet, it becomes weakened and starts to rot. This can also lead to the growth of mold from spores that may be present in the wood.
The problem is that when water gets into the walls, it can cause damage to the wooden structures that are present in many homes. When the wood becomes weakened, it can become structurally unsafe, especially if the water has been leaking inside for some time.
What Causes Water to Get Inside Basements?
One of the biggest issues is that water can cause a lot of damage, not just to your basement, but to the walls of your home. This can lead to a lot of expensive repairs. This is the last thing that any homeowner wants to have to deal with.
So, what causes water to get into the basement in the first place?
- Cracks in Walls
Though any building can develop cracks in the foundations and walls, it is most often older buildings that are prone to this. The basement lies below the soil level, and all of the soil can lead to pressure on the building’s structure. This pressure over time can lead to cracks forming and water seeping inside. As more and more water gets inside the cracks, it opens them up and eventually allows more water in.
Having said this, even newer buildings can develop cracks in walls and foundations. Concrete will shrink and settle after drying out, and this can lead to small cracks forming. The water then enters the cracks and opens them up even further.
There is also a risk that soil movement will lead to the formation of cracks in the walls as the foundations move. This soil movement is often caused by groundwater or nearby construction work.
- Water Pressure
Hydrostatic pressure is a common cause of water in basements. Water is always present in the soil, and the amount of water tends to differ between regions. Where there is more rain and snow, the groundwater levels tend to be higher.
As the water in the soil increases, the pressure also increases. When the soil is saturated and cannot absorb any more water, it moves elsewhere. Unfortunately, the water often moves into basements due to the higher pressure. This means that soil can become saturated easily after heavy rains or snows, causing flooding in basements of homes in these areas.
- Loose Soil
When homes are built, there is always an excavation of the existing soil so that foundations can be sunk. This means that the soil around the foundations of a home tend to be looser and more able to absorb water. Because of this, water can saturate the areas around the foundations of a home and cause it to leak into the walls and the basement.
- Leaking Windows
Many basements feature small windows to allow light inside. The big problem with this is that water can accumulate in the window wells after a heavy downpour and leak through gaps around the window pane and into the basement.
As the pressure of the accumulated water increases, more damage is done to the window and thus more water is let inside to the basement. This can certainly lead to more than just the window needing to be resealed or replaced.
- Leaking Floors
As hydrostatic pressure in the water table increases, this can place additional force on the floor. This extra pressure can lead to cracks and water seeping into the basement.
What to Do About the Leaks?
It’s really important to identify the source of the water leaks and then to fix the problems. Neglecting to do anything about them can lead to some very expensive repairs indeed.
Water getting into a basement can cause all sorts of issues, including structural problems, so it’s not simply a matter of repairs for aesthetic reasons. It’s also important to fix these leaks and try to prevent them from happening again in the future because it can lead to an unsafe home.
- How to Deal with Cracks in the Floor
When it comes to dealing with cracks in floors, the best solution is to have a drainage system installed. This will allow the water to simply drain away, thus relieving the pressure. In this system, the water is typically drained away from the basement floor to another area.
- Drain the Water away from Your Foundations
As explained previously, one of the biggest causes of water getting into a basement is when the loose soil around foundations becomes saturated with water to the point that it seeps into foundations and walls. One of the most common methods of dealing with this issue is to have a waterproof barrier installed around the foundations. This prevents water from entering the structure of the home and getting into the basement.
- Seal the Gaps
It’s common for ground water and rain water to get into a basement through cracks in walls. Whether it’s because of mortar that has become dislodged or a cove joint that is loose, hydrostatic pressure leads to water getting inside a home.
The best way to deal with this common issue is to seal the cracks with a high quality sealant from a hardware store. This will prevent the water from getting inside the basement in the short term. If there’s a bigger issue that has been identified as the cause of water leaking inside, this may also need to be repaired.
- Check the Window Well
Basements that have windows often feature drains inside the window well. Addressing the cause of the water seeping into your basement may be as simple as checking the window well drains and cleaning them out if they are blocked.
In some cases, there may be no drainage system installed at all in the window well, and it will then be necessary to have drains installed, or you will need to install a new window completely.
Neglecting Your Basement Is Not an Option
Though many old homes with basements tend to have numerous water leakage problems, it’s wise to remember that it’s an issue that can even affect new homes. Indeed, there are plenty of stories where the builders skimped on materials and methods and created a leaky basement.
The problem is that neglecting to take care of the leaky basement issue will lead to more serious problems. In these cases, water really is the enemy and will cause more and more damage over time.
This can lead to an unsafe building as foundations and walls are damaged. Do you really want to live in an unsafe home where a flooded basement is the cause of a building collapse?
Be Aware of the Signs
Quite often, there are numerous signs that water is getting into your basement. You may have noticed some cracks on the walls or floors as well as the musty smell of black mold. You may even see some efflorescence staining in the corners.
When combined, these signs are a good early indicator that water is getting into the basement.
Choose the Right Professionals
The truth is that if you do discover that your basement is regularly flooding or letting in water, you may not have the expertise to do much about it.
Waterproofing the foundations, for example, is not really a “do it yourself” sort of job. On the other hand, sealing a few cracks in the walls can certainly be done by most homeowners with just a little effort and skill.
If you discover that your basement is letting in water, the best thing to do is to call an expert in the field. They can find out why it’s happening and can come up with a way to fix it and minimize the chances of it happening in the future.
So, what should you look for in a professional in this area? Consider the following:
- Obligation free quote: These kinds of repairs can be expensive, especially if the basement has been neglected for some time and there is extensive damage. Ideally, you should find a company that can offer obligation free quotes so that you can make the right decision for your bank balance.
- Communication: The heart of just about any business is good and transparent communication. The right company should be upfront and able to answer any of your questions without hesitation. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to them or feel that they are not answering your questions, you should look for someone else.
- Referrals: If you can do so, look for testimonials and referrals from people for the company that you want to hire. Often, there are plenty of referrals online.
A basement that is flooding or letting in water can be real trouble if not dealt with quickly. Fortunately there are services that can help if you notice the signs that there’s a problem.