There are many reasons why water can make its way into a home causing a leak in the basement. In order to determine the cause of this, you must first figure out where the leak originated.
How to Inspect Your Home
If your basement has any windows, check around the seal of the window frame to ensure there are holes, cracks or rotting wood sections. If there are any of these, consider replacing the entire window frame.
Make sure to patch all of the cracks in the basements walls with a sealant and check the floor too for any other cracks that may cause any seepage of water. If the foundation of the basement itself is severely cracked, it’s time to consult a professional contractor in order to repair the damage.
After you check the interior of your basement, it’s important to check the exterior of the home as well. This is because you must find where any possible water sources that causes the basement leak. Look closely at downspouts and make sure that they are all pointing away from the foundation of the home to avoid any seepage directly into the foundation. It’s important that all gutters are cleared of all debris that may lead to improper water runoff causing a future leak.
If you have looked at all possible sources of water leakage and still are experiencing problems in your basement, consult a professional contractor that may be able to determine the cause of the leak easier because of their professional experience.
Ultimately any basement whether poured concrete foundation or not is not safe from water leakages through the basement walls, floor joist or floors. Generally the first issue that is addressed is moisture. While every house is different, you will have some form of moisture in your basement guaranteed. This can be solved by rerouting or extending a drain spout or by even installing a perimeter drain, this will depend on the extend of the damage.
Main Causes of Basement Leaks
Generally it takes 8 to 10 years for a basement to leak. The main reason this occurs is because of Hydrostatic pressure when groundwater moves upward when soil becomes saturated during heavy rain seasons. The water is pushed up from underneath the floor and makes it way to floor joists. Another cause is the moat effect where the false table water builds up against exterior walls, known as pooling. This results in seepage and the appearance of efflorescence on walls.
Best Way to Prevent Moisture
After leaks in your basement, it is inevitable you will have some type of moisture. When you start a basement renovation, you will want to inspect your foundation for moisture. Look for white powder or efflorescence that may be built up on the foundation or on stone. Moisture is generally caused by warm air that leaks into a cool basement through a joist, generally above the foundation wall that supports the floor joists and the sill plate. Any gaps around the rim joist and sill plates are notorious for air leaks. When sealing gaps, be sure to create a barrier that prevents against air intrusion and water. If you’re doing this yourself, use an approved mortar or even a low-shrink sealant.
Also, make sure your basement is insulated well. Condensation issues due to humidity can be addressed well with automatic dehumidifier. Also use foam tubing to insulate as this will help keep any condensation on cold water pipes from dripping in the basement. A perimeter drain will help to collect rising groundwater and help to carry it away from the foundation. Make sure that this drain is protected from damage and use a pipe that has a filter sock that keeps out any soil. Installation of sensoring will help you monitoring water levels throughout the year. This will help you detect any leaks before major damage is done. Some sensors can turn off power directly or shut off leaky valves when they are tripped. Alerts can even be sent by text to your phone or through email. A HVAC professional can help explain your options in terms of sensors for your basement.
Water is a serious problem. Most of the time the water you don’t see is the real trouble. This water can cause bulges in walls, cracks, efflorescence and lower wall deterioration. Another main cause of leaks is hydrostatic pressure which causes water to penetrate through cracks in the floor. A musty smell in the basement generally is a tall-tell sign of mold or fungus spores floating in the air. If white chalky substance is visible on the wall, this is a chemical breakdown of the bonding agent that holds the water together. The water inside of the foundation wall will leech some limit out of the wall causing this look. Brown stains on walls generally are a sign of acid. When water leaks into the basement, it will draw acid with it. The wall acts as a filter and holds back acid allowing this clean water to seep into the basement. This damage can lead to wall deterioration.
Weatherproofing your basement can be costly, but protects you against major structural problems in the future. It’s important to talk to a professional about your options as well as what method they recommend to correct your particular problem. Most professionals offer free estimates and inspections. Installing a pressure relief system below the floor helps to keep water away from the foundation.