Monday, September 6, 2010

How to Fix a Leaky Basement

Do you have a wet basement? It can be more than a simple nuisance. It can damage drywall, framing and even furniture. Even the mild case of condensation can buckle hardwood floors on the above level. It is estimated that about 60% of North Americans have wet basements. Leaky basements are caused by condensation, runoff or subsurface seepage. Let's examine the three of them.


This is the most basic of wet basement issues. It appears on basement floors and walls as water drops, wet spots or puddles. This problem is caused by warm air meeting the cool foundation walls or the uninsulated water pipes. For mild cases of condensation, often airing out the basement will do the trick. You may also consider investing in a dehumidifier to keep the basement nice and dry.

You can prevent condensation in the basement by keeping the temperature relatively warm in the winter. You should also use foam insulation on your cold-water pipes to prevent condensation. If you have concrete walls, you can also damp-proof them with a waterproof coating.


Melted snow and rainwater can cause damage to a basement if it is not routed away from the house. The runoff water travels through the soil, stopping at the foundation base. This water can then seep through the cracks in the wall or the footings.

To avoid this type of problem, make sure that the water runs away from the house. The ground should be sloped at least 1 inch for every 4 feet. You should also ensure that your downspout don't runoff right next to the house. Any pooling or percolating of water near the foundations can have costly implications. Add downspout extensions so the water drains a few feet away from the foundation.

One way to fix this issue is to patch any cracks in the foundations and to seal the basement walls. You should also patch any cracks in the driveway to avoid having water collect below grade. Keeping your gutters clean will prevent any overflow. If you have a particularly soggy area, you should consider installing a dry well which will allow the water to soak into the ground slowly.

Subsurface seepage

If you have runoff symptoms all the time, you may be dealing with high groundwater. You should check with your city to find out if there are underground springs or if the water table is high. In this case, you may have to call in a professional. The solution may be to install a sump pump. Depending on the severity of the problem, you may also have to install drains either inside the footings of the foundation or outside at the base of the footings.

As with most problems, prevention is often the best cure. To avoid a leaky basement, make sure that you use a dehumidifier and that your water pipes are covered. Regularly clean your gutters and install extensions to move the runoff water away from the house.

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