Basement water seepage is one of the most irritating aspects of owning a home. Even homeowners with a sump pump and proper waterproofing can occasionally come home to a wet basement, prompting understandable frustration. After all, few sights are more frightening than unexplained flooding that threatens your home’s foundation and your valuable belongings.
Even a minor leak can be alarming, though, as it can be a sign of wider-spread issues with the foundation walls. Seepage can also lead to mold growth and associated health problems. Fortunately, most basement flooding can be prevented or addressed before it causes irreparable problems.
How to Identify Water Seepage
Seepage occurs when water makes its way into the basement through the foundation, window wells, floor cracks, or other entrance points.
Signs of seepage may be more subtle than those of other basement leaks and floods. Unless the problem is severe, you’re more likely to notice increases in:
You might also notice cracks, bubbling, or water stains on basement walls, or swelling in the basement floors. All of these signs are worth investigating as they indicate that water is making its way through your foundation and into the house.
Seepage is a long-term issue that causes damage over time, unlike acute flooding due to a perforated pipe or other problem. Don’t wait to consult waterproofing experts just because your basement has “always been like that.” On the contrary, consider persistent or recurring moisture problems to be alarm bells warning you of potential water damage.
What Causes Basement Water Seepage?
There are many sources of water seepage, so it can ultimately be challenging to identify the where leaks are coming from. However, understanding the potential causes of seepage can help you take every precaution necessary to keep water away from your basement.
Soil Saturation & Hydrostatic Pressure
One of the most common sources of basement seepage is also one of the hardest to root out. Here’s what you need to know:
Without excellent sealant, water pressure can penetrate the cove joint even without an obvious crack. Mortar joints present a similar vulnerability in concrete block foundations.
Concrete cracks with age. Factors such as thermal expansion and contraction and natural house settling can all weaken concrete, presenting potential entry points for ground water or rainfall. The best way to address this cause of seepage is to identify and seal cracks in basement walls or the basement floor using hydraulic cement.
Basement windows are another prime suspect when it comes to basement leaks. When a window well becomes clogged, it can become waterlogged and allow water to leak into the basement.
Other Causes of Basement Leaks
Other causes of basement water seepage include:
These causes have relatively simpler fixes. For instance, clogged drains need only to be cleaned out. Downspouts that leak into the foundation can be fixed with affordable downspout extensions, which make sure that water doesn’t drain backward toward the house. Gutter extensions can do the same for gutters. By contrast, a failing foundation is a more involved repair, unlike a poorly-designed drainage system — especially if you’ve already tried installing a sump pump.
Four Steps to Fix Water Seepage
If you do notice water accumulating in the basement walls or on the basement floor, there are four steps you should take immediately to make sure your house does not sustain damage.
1. Remove as much water as possible.
The first and most critical step is to dry the affected area. Depending on the amount of water, you may be able to dry the water by yourself with equipment you have at home. If there is a lot of water, you should rent a wet vac to quickly remove the water and consider an industrial fan if you do not have adequate ventilation in the basement (as many homes do not).
Alternatively, you might hire a waterproofing contractor to take care of the water and investigate the leaks. In either case, act quickly to avoid damage to your home value and to prevent expensive and dangerous mold problems.
2. Identify the source.
If you can, try to find out where the leak is coming from. Check each basement wall for signs of water damage, and look around the perimeter of the home to see if there is an obvious source of a leak. For instance, you might notice that a particular window well looks flooded. If you cannot find any potential cause, the culprit is likely pressure from water in the soil surrounding the house.
3. Prevent the leak from recurring.
If you were able to identify the cause, take mitigation steps to prevent the seepage from coming back. This might include sealing leaks, clearing window wells, and adding water alarms. You might also hire a contractor to inspect or install perimeter drains, footing drains, and other such structures.
4. Contact a specialist.
Finally, if you suspect there may be cracks in the concrete or in a foundation wall, or if you aren’t certain whether you’ve completely fixed the seepage, it’s worth your time to call in an expert.
Experiencing Basement Water Seepage in Your Frederick Home?
Ultimately, it’s best to consult an expert about any leaks, no matter how minor. Water restoration experts deal with basements on a daily basis, so they are intimately familiar with drainage systems and home improvement. If you live in a flood zone, preventative measures can be taken to ensure the integrity of your home will be protected if disaster strikes. This combination of expertise means that they can recommend exactly the right steps to control hydrostatic pressure and mitigate your seepage problem.