Wet Basements & How to Avoid Them

water damage in the basement“The question is not whether a basement will leak but when, where, and how much.” Virtually all basements will leak from time to time.

Don’t neglect drainage just because the basement is dry. Even basements that have never been damp may show moisture or water concerns in the future.

Often this happens after an unusually heavy rain.

Sometimes, basements spring a leak because silt has accumulated in the gravel or in the backfill, or in the perforated-pipe drainage system buried underground.

When this happens, water accumulates above the footings, creating water pressure that penetrates tiny cracks that occur in most foundations.

No foundation can keep out water that builds up high above its footings. Even underground homes, with the best of modern sealing techniques, show moisture during the first two years in about 10% of all cases studied.

Your basement is probably not waterproofed as well as those underground homes.

So even if your basement does not leak, take the following preventive measures now or you’ll be calling http://waterdamagedoctor.com or a similar service to fix all the damage..

Neglect may cause severe leaks that require expensive excavation, sealing, and installation of new drainage systems, interior gutters or grooves in the floor to channel water to sump pumps, exterior sumps, etc…

  1. Soil should slope a minimum of 1″ per foot for at least 10′ from foundation, the further the better.
  2. Place concrete gutters next to the house to hold back the soil.
  3. Shape the grade so that water does not stand in puddles.
  4. Remove landscape timbers or anything else that might trap water.
  5. Pack the top 4″ or so of soil next to the house with clay (clay swells when wet and closes all capillaries that might admit water).
  6. Cover the clay with sod or pine bark (finely shredded pine bark provides a dense matt that sheds most water after it becomes soaked).
  7. Remove excess vegetation, soft soil, absorbent bark, gravel, or anything that absorbs or traps water.
  8. Plant shrubs and trees away from the house.
  9. Install extensions on downspouts to carry water far away from the house.
  10. Repair roof gutters that have low sections that may spill water that could saturate soil next to house.
  11. Clean all leaves from gutters that might cause water to spill.
  12. Repair splits (from past freeze damage) in the downspouts
  13. Repair joints or seams leak in the gutters or downspouts.
  14. Install an exterior sump pump, if necessary, to pump the water to a storm sewer (if permitted) or drainage pit far from the house.
  15. Remove large roots next to the house (roots can channel water to the foundation or even dislodge foundation blocks). Remove all tree stumps near the house.
  16. Seal all exterior asphalt or concrete driveways, slabs, stoops, and steps where they join the house, especially if they don’t slope away from the house.
  17. Fill all cracks in sidewalks and driveways near the foundation with rubberized, pour-in crack filler.
  18. Fill voids where soil has settled under stoops and slabs.
  19. Repair all broken water lines under the ground (as evidenced by circular subsidence areas in the soil) that are dumping water next to the foundation.
  20. Repair all dripping hose bibs.
  21. Install a sump pump in the basement or crawl space, or the exterior near the house and discharge the water far from the foundation.
  22. Catch water flowing down a long slope above the house with a swale (a gentle, shallow ditch). The swale should be designed to channel the water safely around the house.
  23. Install a French (curtain) drain below the surface of the soil to intercept subsurface water before it gets to the house. It, too, should redirect the water so that it is dispersed far from the house.
  24. Place a splash block under the air conditioner condensate pipe, if present, to catch the dripping water and carry it away from the foundation.
  25. Place a transparent plastic window well covers over basement windows that are below grade.
  26. Seal the interior of unpainted basement walls.

Maintain drainage around the foundation to avoid foundation instability. Expansive soils, loss of bearing strength, freezing water, rot in wood, wet carpets, excessive humidity in the house, insect infestation, deterioration of materials, low moisture content in soil next to the foundation, all cause foundation instability and these concerns should be addressed.

Seek proper drainage to eliminate standing water while providing constant moisture around the foundation (during long dry spells sprinkle water around the foundation, the key word is constant moisture).

Concrete and masonry products should be thought of as rigid sponges (with hidden damage in walls and attic caused by moisture).

Nothing will last forever and that includes structures damaged by water.

Don’t improve drainage by allowing water to flow over a sidewalk that will freeze in cold weather or by causing concerns to your neighbor.

Leave a Comment