If you have a home with a basement, you’re lucky because you have extra space which you can utilize however you want. You can use it as a playroom for your kids, a home office, an entertainment room, or even an extra bedroom. However, one common problem that affects most basements is the presence of leaks. Every time you come down to this part of your home, you find pools of water or several patches of wetness. These conditions can render your basement unusable, no matter how much you need additional space.
In this article, we’ll be looking at 10 causes of leaks in your basement & how to find them.
Causes of Basement Leaks
A leaky foundation
This is one of the most common culprits to your wet basement. The sad truth is that a foundation can’t help but crack. This part of your home shrinks and expands depending on the soil around it. For instance, if the soil is shrinking or expanding, the foundation will do the same. Also, hydrostatic pressure, erosion, and tree roots can all cause cracks in the basement. Even if these cracks are as thin as a hairline, they can allow water into your basement.
If your basement walls are made of cinder blocks, cracks in the blocks may be the cause of your leaking basement. These cracks may develop because of the freeze-thaw cycle, pressure from other structures, pressure from heavy vehicles, or vibrations from heavy machinery operating nearby. If there is a flood in your area, these cracked cinder blocks let water into your basement.
Cracked poured wall slabs
Cracks in poured wall cracks are usually caused by the natural contraction and expansion of concrete. After years of freeze and thaw cycles, the concrete contracts and expands causing cracks. These cracks allow water intrusion into your home.
Leaky main water line
Your home’s main water line connects your plumbing system to the public water supply and is usually located underground. Leaks in this line may be caused by a lousy first-time installation, underground freezing and thawing, soil erosion which may put excessive pressure on the line, natural wear and tear, and damage from rodents. Remember that your main supply carries a lot of water. If leaks in this supply are the problem, have them repaired before they cause significant water damage.
Leakage in your home’s plumbing system
If your home’s plumbing passes through your basement, it may be the cause of the leaks. What causes a plumbing leak? Examples are broken seals, clogging in the pipes which may lead to bursting, corrosion, damaged pipe joints, excessive water pressure which may cause strain on the pipes, loose water connectors, and extreme weather changes such as freezing which may cause pipe bursts.
Leaky water faucets
These may be the ones wreaking havoc in this area of your home. While some people may see this as a simple problem, days of leaking can lead to a flooded basement. Why do faucets leak? Common causes of this problem are a loose or damaged O ring (an O ring is the ring of rubber around the faucet’s valve stem), a damaged washer, worn out valve seat, and improper installation of the faucet.
Leaky basement windows
Basement windows are usually designed with wooden or steel frames. As time goes by, the frames start corroding, rusting, and rotting. As the damages worsen, they become susceptible to leaks. And if your basement windows have wells, a buildup of dirt and debris inside these wells can inhibit the well’s ability to drain collected water. This water may eventually leak into your basement and flood.
If you have a toilet in your basement, the leaks may be coming from there. When you flush your toilet, some of the water escapes through the base and floods around the area. This problem may be caused by loose tee bolts (they hold your toilet in place) or a damaged wax ring.
Leaky concrete floor
Concrete is porous, which means that it can let water pass through it. If the groundwater in your area is known to rise frequently, the water may find its way through the concrete and into your basement. Floods contribute to the groundwater, and if there are any cracks, the water comes in very easily.
Malfunctioning Sump Pump
A sump pump is great at protecting your basement from water damage and floods. When installed and functioning correctly, sump pumps remove any flooded water and keep your basement dry. However, if this device is malfunctioning, it means that the flooded water will just sit on your basement. Perform regular maintenance on your sump pump to prevent it from malfunctioning when it’s needed most.
In a low elevation area? If your house is prone to flooding or is in areas where flooding often occurs then you need a backup plan. Consider getting a battery backup sump pump. Our house flooded during a storm 12 years ago. The city lost power so the sump pump stopped working which lead to 4” of water in our basement the next morning. It took a whole day with a shop vac just to get rid of the water. Then the mold came…quickly.
Save yourself a world of stress and $$$ – get an emergency backup sump pump and save your peace of mind. Who knows…maybe even your marriage.
Problems with your sewer drain
If your sewer drain passes through your basement, it may also be a culprit. For instance, if the sewer pipe bursts or breaks inside the basement, it won’t be able to drain the wastes out. The sewage will be deposited on the basement’s floor. Also, leaking joints can allow water and sewage to escape. If you’ve found wetness and smell a bad odor, your sewer line is the most probable cause.
How Do You Find the Source of a Leak?
Go through your plumbing system – Since your plumbing system may be the cause of the leaks, inspect it thoroughly from the point it enters your basement to the point where it leaves. As you examine this system, check the joints to see if there is any leakage.
Check for efflorescence – Efflorescence is a white powder produced when water interacts with bricks or concrete. If you find this powder on your basement walls and the area around it is wet, that’s where the leaks are coming through. As you check for efflorescence, also check for any cracks around the walls.
Check for water deposits – On the basement, check to see if there is a pool of water somewhere on the floor. If you find that the water is collecting only at once place, investigate it for cracks or any other damages that may be letting water in. If there is a toilet or faucet nearby, check to see if they’re the ones letting out water. To know if your main water line is the cause, go outside and check if there are any water pools or wetness around your home. If there are none, your main line may not be the cause.
Peeling paint, mold, and mildew – Is the paint on the basement walls peeling? Dampness may be the cause. Check that area for leaks. Also, check for signs of mold and mildew. These elements thrive well in damp places and where they’re growing may be the source of your leak.
Check for the presence of water stains – If you find red stains on your walls, water is coming in through there, and that’s your source.
Can I Seal My Basement From the Inside?
I‘m glad you asked! The simple answer to this question is yes. You can prevent water from coming into your basement using high-quality waterproofing sealers in the market. You just need to find the best sealer and apply it on the basement walls. However, you need to be aware of the best ways to do it such as first removing any paint, dirt, mold, and efflorescence present, then follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to apply the sealer effectively. As you seal, don’t forget to repair cracks and any problems with your plumbing system, sump pump, basement toilet, faucets, the water main line, and sewer line.
The basement is an integral part of your home. If you notice any leaks here, address the problem immediately to prevent from becoming worse and affecting your whole household.