When it rains, does your basement take on a musty smell? Are there areas of dampness after heavy storms? Worse, is there any standing water?
Basement leaks may seem obvious, but they often go unnoticed or unresolved. That’s not good, because over time a leaking basement can cause a lot of damage to a home. So, when you identify water as an issue, the next question to ask is: why is my basement leaking?
There are a variety of possible causes, but here are five of the most common:
Let’s take a look at each scenario, along with common solutions as applicable, so that you can be best prepared to resolve your basement water problems.
Hydrostatic pressure (or water pressure) is the most common cause of basement leaks. It’s also related to several of the scenarios we’ll discuss later on.
The basic idea is this: when the soil around your home becomes oversaturated with water, the water begins to push against your home’s foundation. Over time, that water will find its way in.
The soil around homes is especially prone to becoming oversaturated because it tends to be less dense than the surrounding soil; as homes are built, the soil is dug up and replaced. Consequently, water moves more easily into this soil and can place pressure on the home quickly if not directed elsewhere.
Hydrostatic pressure is most likely to build during heavy precipitation events, but it can also exist over long periods of time if the underlying causes of oversaturation aren’t addressed.
Common Solutions: The solution will depend on the cause of hydrostatic pressure, but landscaping solutions are common. French drains may also help to direct water away from the home.
Wall or floor cracks may be caused by hydrostatic pressure. As water presses against the home’s walls and foundation, walls can become bowed and crack, while the expansion and contraction of soil can cause floor cracks.
Once cracks form, they’re often the entry points for water in the soil to get inside the home.
When you identify signs of water, check for accompanying cracks in the area.
Common Solutions: There are a variety of effective sealants that can waterproof cracks and prevent future growth. Ask a waterproofing professional if this may be an appropriate solution for you.
Poor grading can lead to the buildup of hydrostatic pressure. If the area immediately surrounding a home is flat – or, worse, slopes toward the home – water will run straight into the soil surrounding the house and put pressure on the foundation.
Common Solutions: Instead, grading should slope steadily away from a home. Most professionals recommend a grade of 5%, or about six inches over the first ten feet.
Window wells are another common cause of a leaking basement. If they aren’t properly installed, if they aren’t sealed, or if they’re filled with debris that clogs draining, your home will be at risk during heavy rains.
We’ve seen heavy precipitation fill window wells quickly with large amounts of water. When that happens, it’s only a matter of time until water enters the home and causes damage.
Common Solutions: Fitted window well covers can prevent the buildup of debris and direct water away from these areas to prevent flooding.
Finally, ineffective gutters may be the reason why your basement is leaking. Gutters are meant to redirect runoff toward safer areas away from the home. If they’re clogged, though, water can overflow and enter the soil immediately surrounding the home, where it will cause hydrostatic pressure.
You may also simply not have enough downspouts to properly redirect large amounts of rainwater; professionals recommend at least one downspout for every 50 feet of roof eave, with the goal to have water dispersed at least four feet away from the home’s foundation.
Common Solutions: You might just need to clean your gutters. Or, you made need to have them improved or replaced if they aren’t designed correctly to your home’s needs.
Whether your basement is leaking due to ineffective gutters, poor soil grading, or something else, the best way to prevent a basement from leaking is to get professional waterproofing help.
At Mission Home Services, we take pride in protecting Maryland homeowners from water damage and ensuring that local homes stay safe.
If you want to ensure your basement doesn’t leak and get peace of mind, get in touch with us to schedule a free consultation today.
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“First of all, I don’t usually do reviews; however, I was so impressed with the guys at Mission Home Services that I felt the need to let others know. We had them out to inspect our basement and give us an estimate on waterproofing it for future renovations. The representatives gave us a great education on not only how a basement leaks, but also how ours was leaking and the correct method to fix it. We highly recommend this company!”