Reasons Why Your Basement Leaks & Gets Wet When it Rains

February 10, 2021

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Are you curious as to why your basement gets wet when it rains? It’s vital that homeowners pinpoint the cause of excess moisture anywhere in the home but especially in its lower level, as basement walls and flooring make up your home’s foundation. Standing water and excess moisture increases the risk of foundation cracks, chips, and other severe damage, which can lead to wall and ceiling cracks, roof damage, and mold growth.

While only a foundation repair contractor can tell you why your basement gets wet when it rains, you might note some common reasons for standing water or excess moisture in the basement no matter the outside weather. You can then discuss your home’s waterproofing and repair needs with a foundation contractor near you, and ensure your house is always dry and in good condition!

Why Your Basement Gets Wet When It Rains

raining on residential homes

The most common reason for basement leaks and standing water in the basement when it rains is water pressure. The soil around your home absorbs rainwater; when that soil is saturated, it pushes against the home’s foundation walls. If soil is overly saturated, this pressure will overwhelm foundation concrete, so water seeps through those walls or comes up through the floor and then settles inside the basement.

The more moisture absorbed by soil around the home, the more pronounced that water pressure, and the more likely it is that you’ll notice standing water in the basement. If your home’s gutters are clogged or undersized, for example, they might allow rainwater to wash over their sides rather than run-down nearby downspouts, and that water is then absorbed by soil next to the home. Improper grading and other drainage issues can also mean more water collecting around the home’s foundation.

Foundations with cracks and holes are also more likely to let in water that then winds up in the basement. If you’ve neglected foundation repair or waterproofing, this can mean cracks, chips, and other gaps that are easy to overlook but which can mean severe water damage to your home.

Can Water Come Up Through a Concrete Basement Floor?

The short answer is yes, water can come up through a concrete basement floor! Rainwater and just overly moist soil can result in water getting trapped and collecting under a home before it has a chance to drain away.

As with basement walls, that water can press against a concrete basement floor. That concrete can then absorb moisture, so that it ends up in the basement. If you’ve waterproofed your home’s basement walls or exterior foundation walls but still find that there is constant moisture in the home’s basement, it’s time to turn your attention to those concrete floors.

Dangers of a Flooded Basement in Your Home

Never ignore repeated floods or even trapped moisture in the home’s basement! Note some reasons why it’s vital that you ensure a basement is always as dry as possible, and address dampness and especially standing water quickly:

  • Concrete absorbs water and moisture, leading to cracks, chips, and spalling, and overall weakening. A weak foundation allows a home to settle and shift, and even sink along one side or another.
  • As a home sinks, it begins to pull on building materials and surfaces, so that you might soon notice cracked walls and ceilings, buckled floors, roof and plumbing damage, and other costly repairs.
  • Drywall and wood framing absorb moisture in the basement, leading to water-stained and crumbling drywall as well as wood rot.
  • Excess moisture increases the risk of mold growth throughout the home.
  • Insects and rodents seek out water sources as well as food sources. Even if you keep your home’s kitchen spotlessly clean, ignoring excessive water in the basement can mean an unpleasant infestation in your home!
  • Stored items and appliances in the basement absorb moisture and humidity. Even if you use heavy-duty tubs and bins to store clothes, books, and other items, ignoring excess water can mean mildew, mold, and insects. Your appliances might also rust or suffer other water damage.
  • Standing water soon becomes stagnant, holding germs, bacteria, dust, and other unpleasant residues, creating an unhealthy environment.

A homeowner would also do well to remember that cracks and chips letting in water aren’t just going to go away, but are likely to get worse over time! While it’s vital that you address floodwaters so you can protect your home, it’s also important that you address the reasons for that excess water, so your home is always structurally stable and in good repair.

How Do I Get Water Out of My Basement Without a Sump Pump?

A sump pump is an excellent investment for any home, as it quickly and easily traps and pumps water from the basement, reducing the risk of damage even during a flood. However, if you don’t have a sump pump installed and need to remove more water than you can manage with a standard mop, note a few simple suggestions.

Your first choice is to rent a wet-dry vacuum from a hardware or home improvement store. These vacuums make quick work of removing standing water, and you then simply empty their collection canister into a nearby utility sink as often as needed.

A snow shovel can also help remove standing water, as these are designed to scoop melting snow and ice without excess moisture falling over their sides. Use the shovel to lift standing water and empty it into a bucket, emptying the bucket as needed.

It’s also helpful to run a dehumidifier in the basement, as this will help water evaporate more quickly and then absorb that excess moisture. If you purchase or rent a dehumidifier for your home’s basement, ensure you empty it as needed, so it continues to function effectively.

How to Stop Water From Seeping Through Basement Walls

There are two key components to keeping your home’s basement dry and clean. The first step is to keep excess moisture away from the basement’s exterior, and the other is to waterproof the basement walls and floors, so they repel any water that does pool around the home.

To keep water from pooling around the home, you’ll want to improve its overall drainage system. Residential properties should be graded or sloped toward the street, so excess moisture in the soil will drain away from the house and to a nearby drainage system. A landscaping engineer can note if your property needs better grading.

Another excellent means of keeping water away from a home’s basement is a French drain installation. A French drain is a pipe, installed underground, which runs away from the home and to a nearby drain or landscaping feature that needs regular watering.

This underground pipe collects water from a basin located near the home. This water then runs along the pipe, so it’s then deposited into that drain or landscaping feature. Since French drains are buried, they won’t interfere with your landscaping or lawn care routine.

Basement and exterior concrete waterproofing are also excellent options for keeping water out of the home if it should collect around the foundation. Waterproofing keeps concrete from absorbing moisture, protecting it from premature damage and breakdown. It also keeps that water from making its way through those walls and then collecting in the basement.

Is Waterproofing a Basement Worth It?

The majority of home improvement experts would agree that basement waterproofing is well worth your financial investment! One consideration to remember is that waterproofing methods and products change very slowly over time; unlike kitchen appliances, for example, you won’t need to “upgrade” your home’s basement waterproofing every few years just because a new product came out with updated features and gadgets!

Waterproofing also protects your home and belongings in a variety of ways. A waterproof membrane helps repel water, as said, protecting against costly foundation damage. Waterproofing also protects finished building materials such as drywall and ceiling tiles, so your living space is always dry and comfortable and in good repair.

A dry basement also means no unpleasant musty smells, and added protection for appliances and items stored in the space. You’ll help avoid insect infestation, damaged framing, and other such costly fixes when you invest in high-quality, reliable basement waterproofing.

Waterproofing a Basement From the Outside

Exterior basement waterproofing offers lots of added protection against water damage, as waterproofing a basement from the outside helps keep moisture away from foundation concrete. Exterior waterproofing reduces the risk of foundation cracks, chips, spalling, and other costly damage, while also ensuring interior spaces stay dry and comfortable.

Exterior basement or foundation waterproofing involves digging away dirt from around the outside basement walls and then applying a waterproof membrane or coating along those walls. A dimple board is then applied; this rubber mat also helps repel water, while its dimpled surface lets concrete “breathe,” also helping to keep it dry.

A gravel bed is then typically installed next to this dimple board, sloped toward a nearby drain. This footer drain helps repel water away from the home, reducing that water pressure and keeping basement walls dry. While exterior basement waterproofing is often more expensive than interior coatings and membranes, this process offers excellent protection for your home and especially for foundation concrete, and is still much more affordable than repairing severe foundation damage.

Water in Basement? Who to Call to Remediate the Issue

A plumber addresses burst plumbing pipes, overflowing bathtubs, and other such plumbing-related floods in the home. However, for water that seeps in through basement walls and floors, it’s time to call a foundation repair contractor. A foundation repair company will inspect a home’s foundation, basement or crawlspace, and other areas around the home’s lower level, spotting signs of damage even deep within the concrete.

A foundation repair contractor will also inspect basement walls and floors, looking for cracks, leaks, chips, and other needed fixes. He or she can then suggest the best repair method, to close up those cracks and leaks and ensure the home’s foundation is strong and secure.

A foundation repair company will also typically offer waterproofing and crawlspace encapsulation services. These help keep water out of the basement or the home’s crawlspace, ensuring a clean and dry space.

To ensure your home is always in good repair and safe for occupation, ask a foundation repair contractor why your basement gets wet when it rains and have them inspect the foundation as needed. Foundation repair and waterproofing will keep out that water and keep your home protected from damage.

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