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What to Do With a Leaky Basement


No one likes a leaky basement. A wet basement smells bad, and it can make the space unusable. But a leaky basement is more than just a problem underneath your home. Moisture can lead to mold growth that spreads throughout your house, affecting the health and safety of your whole home. So if you have any signs of moisture in your basement, removing the water and preventing new water from entering is crucial for the safety of your home. Here area few ways you might be able to save your basement from water damage.

What to Do With a Leaky Basement [infographic]

1. Extend Your Gutters

If water is pouring out of your gutter downspouts too close to your foundation, it can cause leaks that will get into your basements. The easiest solution is to add gutter extensions that send the water at least five to six feet away from your foundation. If you don’t like the idea of a long gutter extension in your yard, you can hire a landscaper to install piping underground to do the same thing.

2. Seal Around Pipes

Sometimes you will find that water is seeping into your basement in the cracks around a pipe. If a plumbing pipe is coming through the wall, the spaces around it can become an entryway for water. Sealing the crack is easy and cheap. You can use hydraulic cement or polyurethane caulking, both of which are available at any hardware or home improvement store.

3. Check the Crown Around Your House

If water is getting into your basement form near the top of the walls, the problem may be water that is gathering too close to your foundation. The solution is to prevent water from draining toward your home and instead ensure that it flows away. It may not be noticeable, but when a house is built, it usually sits on a slight crown of dirt. The dirt crowns should slope down away from the house, about 6 inches over 10 feet. The slight grade helps water drain away from the house, but over the years, it can be worn away. Rebuilding the crown can solve some basement leakage issues.

4. Berms and Swales

If you can’t build a crown of dirt around your home, consider a berm or a swale. A berm is a mound of earth, and a swale is the opposite, a wide, shallow ditch. Both of these can be built into your landscaping some distance from your home. These features help control the flow of water and can direct drainage away from your home. In most cases, these features can be installed by a landscaper. Once grass and other landscape features have grown in, the berm or swale will completely blend into your landscaping.

5. Clear Out Footing Drains

Water that comes from high up on the basement walls could be water that is collecting on the surface. But if the water is coming from lower down on the wall, you may have a different problem. Hydrostatic pressure may be pushing groundwater up and into your basement. To see if you have footing drains, look for a manhole in the floor of your basement or a capped pipe on the wall close to the floor.

A footing drain is built when the house is built. Pipes are installed underground to direct water away from the basement. Over time, the pipes can get clogged. To clear a footing drain, remove the cap on the clearout pipe and flush the pipes with a garden hose. If that doesn’t work, you can hire a plumber who will use an auger.

6. Consider a Curtain Drain

A curtain drain is so-called because it functions like a curtain around your home, keeping water out. It is a type of french drain that you can install uphill from your home to direct water away. To install a curtain drain, you will need to dig a ditch about 2 feet deep and 1.5 feet wide. Inside the ditch, lay a perforated pipe and cover the whole thing with gravel. Water that flows over the drain will percolate through the gravel and into the pipe, which will carry it safely away from your home.

7. Sump Pump

If you can’t keep water from getting into your basement, your only option is to actively remove it as it collects. The first step is to channel the water into one area. The best way to do this is to chisel out a small trench around the perimeter of your basement along the base of the walls. A perforated pipe in the trench can collect water and send it to a collection area at the lowest point of your basement. From there, a sump pump can pump it out to a safe area away from your home. It is a good idea to have a backup power source for the pump so that if the power goes out in a storm, your basement won’t flood.

8. Waterproofing

If you have a finished basement, you can’t install a sump pump without ripping up the basement. If you have numerous leaks in your walls and you have tried the various drainage options, your only other option is to waterproof the walls from the outside. Waterproofing is a big job that involves excavating around your basement to access the outside of the basement walls. You will have to tear up your yard and potentially any patios, decks, or walkways that are in the way. It can also cost $20,000 or more. But if your basement can’t be saved any other way, this final step may be necessary to protect your home.

9. Hire the Experts

If you aren’t sure what the best approach is to fix your leaking basement, bring in the pros. Before you spend time, money, and effort on a solution that may not work, let a TrustDALE certified basement waterproofing company take a look. Often, you will find that the solution is simpler than you thought. So save yourself some trouble and call a TrustDALE certified basement waterproofing company today.