Water leaks along the junction of a basement's wall and floor are common in many homes.
Studies by the American Society of Home Inspectors show that 60% of residential structures containing a basement experience water seepage.
Homes often develop leaks in their basements after 10 to 15 years post-construction.
Various factors, such as poor construction, foundation settling, or hydrostatic pressure, can cause basement leaks where the wall meets the floor. To solve the problem, it's essential to determine the underlying cause and take appropriate action. This involves installing waterproofing solutions like a sump pump and a french drain system.
Promptly addressing basement leaks is crucial to prevent further damage to the home's structure and to avoid potential health hazards associated with mold and mildew growth.
This article explains the exact reason why these leaks occur, their remedial measures, and some telltale signs to identify water leakage.
How to Rectify a Wet Basement and Keep it Dry?
Water seepage can harm the serviceable life of your basement and structure, so fixing it as soon as possible is vital.
Basements that are finished, semi-finished, or unfinished are all susceptible to leaks.
Among the various basements, walkout basements are more prone to flooding.
In a lot of cases, the solution could be quite simple, such as diverting the gutter in another direction or cleaning the gutter.
If these don't fix the leakage, consider these solutions.
Waterproof the Walls
Many building codes, including the IRC 2021, have deemed it mandatory to waterproof the walls of a basement.
Furthermore, should you want to use your basement as a livable space, waterproofing its walls can help you create a comfortable environment inside your basement.
Usually, contractors apply a thick coat of water-resistant paint on the walls to waterproof them.
If the leak is more significant, contractors must apply a waterproof sealant on the basement floor and walls.
Waterproofing is a very effective way to protect your basement, but it is expensive.
For a basement with numerous leaks at varying locations, the cost may even be as high as $18,000.
So, consider waterproofing only if the basement is still under construction or needs major repairs.
A permit is necessary to waterproof the basement.
Rethink your Landscape
Improper landscaping leads to water accumulation around the basement which often causes multiple cracks and leaks.
Ideally, you want the water directed away from the basement on a downward slope towards the road.
If you notice water leakage in your basement after heavy rains, chances are, it is because of an improper slope in your landscape.
Either change the slope of your landscape to a more suitable one or surround your basement walls with gravel or small rocks.
If the rainwater from the roof drains within 5 feet of your basement walls, it can lead to leaks.
Using gutter extensions is an effective solution to guide the water away.
The disadvantage of gutter extensions is that they are away from the basement, and if you are not careful, you may trip over them.
Installing an underground drain pipe is a better permanent solution.
But it is more expensive compared to a gutter extension.
A possible reason for water seeping into your basement at the seams where walls meet the floor or walls could be hydrostatic pressure from the water below the ground.
The best way to address this is by installing footing drains and underground pipes to channel water away from the foundation.
Look for a maintenance hole or drain in the basement floor or a cleanout pipe capped a few inches above the floor.
Should dirt or debris blocks the drains, flush the pipes with a garden hose.
In case you run into any difficulties, consider hiring a plumber.
If footing drains are not an option, consider installing curtain drains.
Curtain drains are a form of french drain used to divert water away from your house.
It usually is a shallow trench, at most 2 feet in depth and 1.5 feet in width.
A curtain drain consists of gravel and perforated piping, preventing water from traveling uphill toward your house.
It instead guides it downwards towards a slope, protecting your basement.
Interior drains are a good option if you don't want to ruin your landscape by installing external drains.
They are also environment friendly as they can help in ground-water recharge.
Under-construction basements benefit most from internal drainage systems, but constructed basements can also benefit from them.
It involves installing them around the perimeter of the basement floor and installing perforated pipe in the center.
The perforated pipe should lead to a collection tank which can either store or shoot out the collected water.
Improve the Ventilation and Humidity
Excessive humidity in basements can lead to condensation on the walls.
Besides condensation, increased humidity can act as a catalyst in mold growth, which harms the basement's serviceable life.
Use a dehumidifier, or install an exhaust fan to control the humidity.
If none of those options are suitable, open up the basement's window (if there is one) to circulate some fresh air.
A basement knee wall can also be a great solution if the basement leaks or floods.
Why is There a Leakage in My Basement Between the Wall and the Floor?
A basement is a heterogeneous assembly of different materials.
Using varying materials with differing physical and chemical properties can sometimes lead to leaky basements.
Despite the type of foundation installed, all basements with a leakage problem have one common factor: poor exterior drainage.
Regardless of the presence of footing drains, many complain about the drains getting clogged up and water infiltrating their basements.
A simple solution to this problem is installing a french drain, but what if you want to prevent this from ever happening?
The reason for water regression is highly dependent on the type of foundation of your home.
I'll explain how water leakage happens in each type of foundation.
Poured Concrete Wall Foundation
A poured concrete wall is a smooth, homogenous wall, with the only joint being the floor and the wall itself.
This joint is often in direct contact with groundwater and is often susceptible to leaking.
Hydrostatic pressure from the ground allows water to seep through the solid wall.
The added water pressure often leads to the formation of cracks in the solid wall itself.
Hydrostatic pressure then forces water to enter the basement via cracks.
Concrete Blocks Wall Foundation
A concrete block wall foundation is a basement wall made from joining concrete blocks using cement mortar.
Like a poured concrete wall, the joint between the wall and the basement floor is weak and susceptible to leaking.
Also, the joints between two blocks, sealed with mortar, are prone to leakages due to the hydrostatic pressure applied by groundwater.
The same problem persists with cinder blocks as well.
Stone Wall Foundation
If your house is an older construction, then chances are that your foundation is a stone wall foundation.
Stones of varying shapes and sizes, held together with mortar, make up the entirety of the wall.
Since there is no uniformity in size between two rocks in the wall, there are high chances of minute gaps between them.
Water seeps into the basement through these minuscule gaps.
The water ingress damages the wall's structural integrity, so it's crucial to stop it.
Installing an interior perimeter drain catches all the groundwater coming onto the exterior surface of the wall and redirects it.
Clay Tile Walls
Probably the most susceptible to leaks, foundations made with clay tiles lack strength and durability against water ingress.
Made out of clay tiles, this type of foundation is more brittle than others.
Water can easily penetrate their hollow core, creating a small reservoir and several leaks inside the basement.
This foundation is the weakest; replacing it with a more durable type of foundation is best.
Cost of Fixing a Leaky Basement
The cost of fixing a basement leak is contingent upon the severity of the crack and the complexity of the remedial measure.
An experienced DIY enthusiast can quickly and affordably fix a minor crack or leak.
Usually, sealing a tiny crack can cost $200-400; if you choose to hire a professional, the price can go up to $1500.
Extensive water ingress or foundation problems require skilled manpower and expensive repairs.
If your foundation needs repair, hiring a contractor and carrying out the repairs costs around $2000-$10000.
Waterproofing solutions like installing a french drain or a sump pump cost you around $5000- $8000.
In extreme cases, excavating the soil around the basement will be necessary, driving the cost to $20,000 or more.
|Installation of french drain or sump pump||$5000- $8000|
|Fixing leaky basement by excavating the soil||$20,000|
Addressing basement leaks is crucial to prevent potential health hazards associated with mold, mildew growth, and further damage to your home's structure.
Although repairs can be expensive, the investment is worth it to ensure the safety and comfort of your home.
Basement Floor-Wall Gaps: Why You Can't Fill The Gap?
Contrary to popular belief, it is best not to attempt to fill every gap in your basement.
All basements have a 'Cove Joint,' which is the location where the foundation wall meets the basement floor.
The wall and floor are separate elements, which results in this gap or joint.
Typically, the construction crew cast the walls first and then the floor.
Cove joints are one of the most common locations for basement leaks, and you will think that sealing them can stop any leaks, but that isn't the case.
Many have tried to stop the leaks by applying a thick sealant layer over the joint.
It initially gives good results but will eventually fail for one of the following reasons.
- The water blocked by the sealant will find another way in; this could lead to the formation of cracks in your foundation.
- The water eventually forces its way through the sealant, after which, all the restricted water will leak through the opening.
Because of these reasons, sealing your Cove joint is not the best approach to preventing any water leakage.
Instead, try one of these approaches:
- Interior drain tile
- Exterior membrane waterproofing
- Exterior drain tile system
Always consult a professional before deciding, as they will be able to help you choose the best waterproofing method for your basement.
Common Indicators of Basement Water Leakage
A leaky basement is easy to spot; it has classic telltale signs.
Some of the common signs include:
- Standing Water or puddles
- Wet drywall
- Paint peeling off the walls
- Damp air and musty smell
- Sinking or uneven floor
Watching out for these signs helps you stop these leaks before your basement is severely damaged.
Hazards of a Leaky Basement
A leaky basement threatens your basement's structural integrity and lifespan and is a potential health hazard.
This can cause the degradation of load-bearing elements like basement beams and joists.
Wet basements provide the ideal growing conditions for fungi like mold, mildew, and other harmful spores.
Their growth can cause health problems such as respiratory infections, asthma, and allergic reactions.
Possible health symptoms due to this include difficulty breathing, headache, fatigue, watery eyes, and congestion.
People with weakened immune systems, small children, and the elderly, as well as those with existing respiratory conditions, are more susceptible to these health issues.
To prevent any harm to you or your family, consult a waterproofing specialist if you find mold in your basement as soon as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Basement Leakage?
A standard homeowners insurance policy covers water damage in your basement to a certain extent, but only partially.
It covers any damage caused by a covered peril, such as a pipe burst or accidental water discharge.
In case of any natural calamity like a flood, your homeowner's insurance may not cover the damage caused.
You can purchase additional flood Insurance to protect your basement fully.
What is Causing the Water to Leak into My Basement after a Heavy Downpour?
Various reasons can cause leakage in your basement after heavy rains.
They range from clogged gutters and improper drainage slopes to severe structural cracks in your basements.
A professional inspection to determine the leaks' root cause will be the best.
Is DRYLOK Appropriate for Use in my Basement?
DRYLOK is a waterproofing agent often used by contractors to prevent water penetration in basements.
It is suitable for certain basements with mild to moderate issues but not appropriate for all situations.
If you have already painted or coated your basement walls with other products, DRYLOK is inappropriate.
Before applying DRYLOK, you must remove the existing paint or coating.
DRYLOK is an effective waterproofing agent, but you must address any structural issues and identify the source of the water leak before applying it.