Why is there water in my basement?
You walk down to the basement and turn on the lights — and you see water coming in. This is a challenge that is most likely to occur during springtime, so don’t be surprised if you have this experience in March, April or May when the weather is rainiest. This can happen in an unfinished basement, but cleanup and the related challenges are even more intensive when you have a wet basement that’s also finished with wet carpet, wood or tile.
When you do have water coming in a basement, it is important first to identify the reason for a wet basement floor — which will help you prevent it from happening again. It is equally as important to know how to clean up water in a basement so there’s no lasting damage.
REASONS YOU SEE WATER IN YOUR BASEMENT
When you have water coming in a basement, there is a long list of places to check for the leak. Here is what you should look for first:
- Window Well: It is always nice to have windows in your basement, so you can enjoy a little bit of natural light. Groundwater and rainwater can accumulate, though, and make it more difficult for the integrity of your window wells to hold up. Examine your window wells for signs of leaks, and also check your gutters and downspouts. Overflowing gutters and downspouts can often lead to leaky window wells as water collects around the foundation of your house.
- Honeycomb: If poorly mixed concrete was used to create your basement walls, honeycomb-like air pockets could form and allow water to leak in. You should be able to see these honeycomb formations, and they are relatively easy to treat as part of your basement waterproofing process.
- Water Pipe Conduits: Water pipes need holes to get into your basement. These holes are typically sealed with a water plug, but those plugs only go so deep — about two inches on average. There may be a gap between the plug and the opening that allows for water to gather and leak into your basement.
- Floor Drains: Water backups related to your own drain system or even the municipal water supply may lead to flooding up through your floor drain. Your basement’s waterproofing system should include a filter that draws this type of water away from your home. If you have one, and you are still experiencing water backups in your basement, it may be time to have the system serviced and checked for problems.
- Wall Leaks: This is a challenge mostly in older homes. Water gathers in low spots after the soil settles over time. This lower settling level allows for water to begin leaking over the top of the wall of your basement. Water may also leak in through cracks in the middle of your walls, which is one of the more severe basement leaks. Middle-of-the-wall leaks appear because of massive pressure buildups in the ground and water pushing against the wall over time.
- Sewer Pipes: Smaller sewer pipe leaks are the most difficult to deal with because they can go undetected for so long. You may first notice a sewer pipe leak of this variety by seeing stains on walls below the drain, ceiling staining or even signs of mold formation.
- Floor Cracks: Basement floor cracks are often the result of a home settling over time. As your home settles, water begins to collect in spaces underground, applying pressure to your basement floor. Water can then leak into your basement through these cracks, or it can even enter as humidity that creates mold and mildew.
- Sump Pumps: Sump pumps can fail for a number of reasons, including but not limited to poor installation, maintenance needs, clogged or frozen discharge lines, power failure, etc. A backup sump pump can help prevent leaking in most cases.