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How to Repair Basement Leaks

A leak is defined as an undesired opening for water to enter or escape a container, in our case leaving you with a wet basement. Leaks can be found in certain areas such as basements, the roof, water pipelines, and faucets.

The leak comes in different types. It may be a puncture, rust, crack, gash and/or a pinhole. Even with good sealing in walls, a leak can still appear. A puncture is one of the most common types of leaks due to its noticeable size and shape. Yet, many times, leaks are irregular and impossible to see them using your naked eye.

You need a trained professional to find the exact location of these leaks. Professionals measure the leak’s irregularity by its volume of fluid leaked per time rather than the actual size of the opening if it’s tough to find.

What Causes Basement Leaks?

Water that leaks into the basement is a common household problem. You tend to think leaks appear due to heavy pressure brought by long hours of rains and melting snow, and this can happen, but the truth sometimes is, the origin of basement water problems happen way back during the construction process (Emecole, 2014).

In the case of when a leak is caused during construction, the water problem tends to disappear once you build a functional drainage system. The drainage system protects your basement from flood. Sadly, there are times when the external pressure becomes too heavy and loses its ability to support the foundation wall. The lack of drainage support results to unwanted water coming in through holes, cracks and seams.

Waterproofing professionals like Vulcan discover several water entry ways, which cause leaks in the basement walls and floors. The problem is either minor or major depending on the damage extent. That’s why; your first priority needs to be to track down the leak origin before performing repairs.

Cracks, holes and rots in basement window wells cause flooded basements too. Heavy rains and melting snow can create enough pressure and fill the window well, especially when it’s improperly installed.

Hydrostatic pressure is another common cause of basement leaks (Seepage, 2014). The ground is filled with water, even when it looks dry. Water table (level at which the ground water exists) varies and every time there’s heavy rain, the water brings the soil closer to the surface. Then, this surface soil becomes wet that causes the water table to elevate. An increase in water table creates hydrostatic pressure against the foundation, which results in leaks.

Lateral pressure occurs when the soil that surrounds the foundation expands. Clay soil absorbs water. It doesn’t drain quickly like sand and loam. Therefore, a wet clay soil expands and creates sideways pressure against the foundation. Leaks will then appear in the walls and floors.

The home exterior may also be the reason why your basement leaks. Clogged gutters result to improper water flow. Short downspouts need extensions to redirect their opening at least ten feet away from the foundation.

Immediately consult a waterproofing professional if none of the above water leakage sources are relevant to your situation.

What Causes Basement Wall Leaks?

Leaks appear in basement walls due to water pressure. During heavy rains and melting snow, walls become wet and acidic. You can tell that it’s acidic if brown stains become visible. Acidic walls are vulnerable, which can no longer control the pressure and unavoidably results to tearing.

Surface repairs such as epoxy sealing and hydraulic cement may be the right solution once unwanted water begins to enter the tear. Yet, it’s only good for a few months.

What Causes Basement Floor Leaks?

It’s believed that floor cracks should never leak. A leak occurs only if the floor area that meets the wall (cove joint) shows signs of moisture. Seepage also happens if there’s a failure in the sump pump and drain tile systems (Emecole, 2014).

Other Sources of Leak

Mortar Joints

Mortar joints are the spaces between bricks and concrete blocks. These joints become weak when it’s wet. Leaks occur once the layers start to tear apart.

Porous Concrete

A number of masonry materials are permeable to water, air and other fluids. It is expected to leak when large cavities exist in concrete blocks.

Top Foundation Walls

Poor soil grading brings water inside the basement. The soil pressure pushes the foundation until it breaks. Water enters the basement walls through the opening.

Roof Drainage

Dirty and clogged gutters hamper the natural flow of rain water. Too much accumulation of rain water causes the drainage to burst.

Prevention and Repair Tips

Tip 1:

Gutters should be properly designed. Ideally, there should be one downspout for every 600-800 sq. ft. of roof surface. Gutters should be free from falling leaves, animal manure and thick snow.

Tip 2:

Hydrostatic pressure is inevitable but you can lighten its load by installing an interior drain tile under the basement floor.

Tip 3:

Interior drain tile should be surrounded with washed gravel to create a better drainage. Proper installation of interior drain requires no maintenance.

Tip 4:

Make it a habit to inject wall cracks with expending polyurethane. The polyurethane fills and seals the crack, preventing a minor foundation movement.

Tip 5:

Make sure to install exterior waterproofing membrane to fix leaks that are found in mortar joints, porous walls and wall top. Exterior waterproofing membranes are enhanced once you install an exterior drain tile. Your aim is to carry ground water away from the foundation, leading to your sump pump system.

Tip 6:

Use downspouts that are made of solid PVC plumbing pipes. You need to run this pipe underground to release the water in the street or other low-lying areas. Make sure to slope the pipe slightly toward the discharge point.

REMEMBER: Never attempt to use soft and flexible black pipe that is used for landscaping. This type of pipe isn’t as firm as PVC.

Tip 7:

The soil angle around your foundation should slope away from the house to protect it from rainfall. The ideal measurement of soil angle should be six inches over the first four feet from the foundation wall. To prevent erosion, push the soil down to the correct slope. Make sure the slope is established with the fill dirt to prevent the water from running through the leaky material and into the basement (Moneypit, 2009).

If possible, don’t use straight topsoil for grading. Due to its too organic nature, straight topsoil holds water against the foundation. Landscaping around flower beds close to foundation walls may be a good idea; however, this technique prevents water from draining away from the foundation. It only increases the risk of basement flooding.

Tip 8:

If unsure, hire a team of waterproofing professionals. Waterproofers are trained and experienced experts. They can tell why your basement leaks and they know how it should be fixed.

Vulcan Waterproofing provides free basement inspection all year round. Feel free to call or send us a mail for a full, no obligation free inspection…

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Get Your Free Basement Waterproofing "Do It Yourself" Guide!

And learn to diagnose your problem like a pro... compliments of Vulcan Waterproofing! Just tell us where to send it.

Vulcan is the Nation's Oldest Basement Waterproofing Company