How to Avoid Costly Basement Leak Repairs


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A common problem in older, smaller homes is basement leaks. Homeowners may find them annoying, but they are not always a sign of poor quality construction.

Basically, time is not on the side of old structures. At the same time, basement leakage can also occur in newly constructed buildings. It is possible to have a concrete foundation wall just as fragile as masonry or concrete blocks.

For the most part, leaks are the result of the wrong mix of temporal and natural factors. The foundation wall of a basement can eventually develop “through cracks”, which allow water from the damp earth to seep into the basement. These cracks can widen the width of the wall.

Fortunately, there are ways to maintain your basement and identify these problems early enough to avoid the cost of fixing a leaking foundation. Keep reading for our full breakdown on how to approach basement waterproofing, as well as the driving factors behind basement leaks.

Causes of a basement leak

One or more of the following can be the cause of a leaky basement. Let’s start with the prime suspect, and that’s hydrostatic pressure.

Depending on the location of the water, the wet soil can put pressure on the foundation slab or on the foundation walls. When a weeping tile system or existing through cracks in the walls are not properly waterproofed, water enters the basement.

Unlike clay soil, which absorbs water and expands when wet, sand and silt absorb relatively little water, allowing for efficient drainage. If water is not properly drained to a municipal storm drain system through drain tiles during periods of heavy rain or snowmelt, the topsoil can become saturated.

A structure’s gutters and downspouts will be blocked or clogged, causing water to drain directly into the foundation.

Seepage and return to slope

In the event of heavy rain or melting snow, the water will flow over an underground foundation wall.

Additionally, large amounts of water can be directed toward the exterior wall of a building through a negatively sloped yard that slopes toward it rather than away from it, resulting in hydrostatic pressure.

The water has nowhere to go if this wall is not properly sealed or if there are fractures. If you have not installed a weeping tile system at the base of the foundation, water will seep into your basement.

Weak Reinforcement

When the steel reinforcement of a foundation wall is insufficient, it can lead to structural defects that allow water to flow through the wall. The steel reinforcement in the walls of a basement may be insufficient if the foundation walls bow or break at or near mid-span.

Non-structural cracks in a concrete wall are, however, the most common cause of water leaks. Repairing structural fractures and non-structural cracks is a complex process that requires a variety of techniques.

Basement waterproofing preventive measures

The foundation of all inbound strategies begins with gutter and downspout maintenance.

We cannot overemphasize its importance. Gutter systems play an important role in the overall design of your home. If you want your gutters to work properly, you will need to clean them.

Every year, hire a professional to clean and check your home. Keep rain away from your property’s foundations by connecting your downspouts to extension cords. They can also take care of basement waterproofing for you.

If a drainage system and sufficient waterproofing are not constructed, window wells and English walkouts can be major sources of water leaks. Along with leaves and other debris, drains can clog and leak, causing water to build up and flood your basement.

Maintain a safe distance from these areas by planting deciduous trees and shrubs, removing them regularly, and making sure they are safe before a big storm.

Check your exterior caulking and sealing

Water penetration can be prevented by weather stripping and caulking around windows and doors, but this is not a one-size-fits-all procedure. Regularly replace seals in problem areas.

Above ground windows and doors are included. Water can seep through the walls and into the subfloor of your basement. Basement walls can also be painted with a high-quality waterproofing paint to prevent moisture and mildew from developing.

Keep a safe distance from trees

Be sure to do your homework before planting trees around your home. Consider the possibility of invasive roots when making your plans. Your plumbing system could be in danger if you plant certain types of trees.

A clog in your home’s plumbing can be caused by roots breaking through the concrete or plastic and restricting drainage.

Install water alarms

An affordable water alarm can notify you with a sound or a notification on your phone if the system detects water. Even if you are away, you can take care of water leaks around appliances and prevent future damage while using these appliances.

It’s also a good idea to turn off your main water valve before you go on vacation to protect your home.

Install a sump pump

Extra water is collected and pumped away from your home using sump pumps. Wherever water leaks, an extension is essential.

In the event of a power outage, invest in a sump pump with battery backup. Fill it with a bucket or two of water and turn it on often to make sure it will work properly when needed.

Consider expanding your drainage system

For more problematic situations, an interior or exterior drain solution is a great option, but it’s also expensive.

This can be a last resort option if other less expensive approaches fail. It will cost around $10,000 for the exterior system and $5,000 for the interior. It is always best to hire a professional and insured waterproofing or foundation contractor who has strong local credentials.

Basement Leak Prevention and Repair: Simplified

Basement flooding is a common problem, but it doesn’t have to be.

To avoid costly water damage to your property, if you discover even a small basement leak, invest immediately in locating the cause. A waterproofing expert is your best bet for this task. You should also check out our additional guides and explainers in our home improvement section.


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