Basement Repairs: Part 1 - Why Fix It & What Causes It
Waterproofing your basement can have a big impact on the comfort, value, and durability of your home. There are several ways to mitigate the water entering your home’s basement and keep the space dry, but not all basement waterproofing methods are created equally. So, what’s the best approach for keeping your basement dry, all the time?
Why have a dry basement?
Keeping your basement dry means protecting your home’s durability, value, and the equipment in it.
Protect Equipment & Belongings – often basements are home to hot water heaters, duct work, the washer and dryer, and other appliances or equipment. Allowing these spaces to exposed to water infiltration and moisture damage can mean damage to the equipment essential to keeping your household running and healthy. You might also like to store items like holiday decorations or keepsakes in this space. Wet soggy boxes and humidity don’t bode well for keeping your items dry and in good condition.
Improving Home Value – no one wants to buy a problem, why would they want to buy a wet, musty, damp basement? Not fixing your wet basement means reducing the value of your home when you’re ready to sell or causing you to have to fix the problem then.
Protect your home’s health – This might sound strange, but your home needs to be healthy too! Moisture and water seeping into a basement become trapped in that space. This can result in mold and mildew growth on organic materials such as wood floor joists, paper backing of insulation, boxes, linens, and more. In extreme conditions this can ultimately lead to wood rot on the floor joists.
Protect Your health in your home – approximately 50% of the air you breathe in your home’s livable space comes from the basement (or crawl space). This means all the moisture, mildew, humidity, dust, and dirt, being pulled into your home at the bottom is making its way up into your living room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms and you’re breathing it in. This can be a big factor when considering in home allergies, musty odors, and even dust mites.
Finish Your Basement – Having a dry basement means you can finish the space. Finishing your basement doesn’t just mean you’re adding extra rooms, it also means increasing your home’s value. You can have the extra bedroom, work shop, or family media room you’ve always wanted and a dry basement!
What causes a wet basement?
Regardless of your basement being fully sub-grade or being a walkout a number of factors can contribute to water seeping into the space through basement cracks in walls, around doors and windows, or even up through the floor.
High Water Table – You could live in an area with a high-water table. The water table is an area between the surface layer of soil and where groundwater fills and saturates voids between sediment and rocks in the ground. The poor draining of the soil combined with heavy rains or runoff can cause a high water table meaning water infiltration or flooding into your basement depending on the severity of your home’s basement leakage.
Poorly graded soil – If the soil around your home is graded toward the house, water will run towards your home’s foundation. As pressure builds up on the exterior of your home from the water, it can seep through the basement walls.
Hydrostatic Pressure – hydrostatic pressure is pressure asserted against your home’s foundation walls by groundwater. This can cause basement wall cracks, water seepage, and bowing in your walls. The cracks caused by this pressure create optimal spaces for water, dirt, sediment, and bugs to creep their way into your basement.
Window Wells - Improperly designed or ineffective window wells and window well covers collect water directly against your home’s basement walls and windows. Water is always going to follow the path of least resistance and will eventually seep into your basement through the walls and windows.
Ineffective Sump Pits – sump pits are holes in your basement floor that are typically open to the basement and have a sump pump lowered into them. These pits collect dirt and sediment clogging the pump and the drainage system. The open pit also allows moisture and odors to rise into your basement and ultimately your living space. Because these pits aren’t sealed if the pump backs up or can’t keep up with the water it’s all going to back up into your basement.
Clogged Exterior Drainage – When your home was built a “Drainage system” may or may not have been installed. Many older homes didn’t have this and those that do may have gone years without any issues. This “Drainage System” if present, was installed around the exterior footer of the basement to manage the water in the earth and ideally keep your basement dry. This may have worked for a little while but overtime this inaccessible “Drainage system” has become clogged with dirt and sediment rendering it ineffective. How your gutters manage water can also impact the water getting into your home. More water dumping directly around your home’s foundation from clogged gutters and downspouts won’t help keep your basement dry.
While cleaning your gutters or replacing your window wells sound like simple solutions to a wet basement – they aren’t the whole solution. Repairing these items can help mitigate the damage, but it won’t eliminate your issue. You’ll need to consider all the factors contributing to your wet basement if you want to keep it dry all the time, not just some of the time.