How to Fix a Leaky Basement
As you saunter down your basement stairs and are about to take the last step onto the basement floor you look around and much to your surprise you discover that there’s water everywhere!
Before you do anything …don’t panic, there are a few quick fixes you can try to make things a little less wet. We’ll explain to you a few diagnostic checks you can perform on your own that may help you figure out if you’re going to need a professional or not.
A leaky basement is a serious issue but with a bit of know-how, you can make it a thing of the past.
First Thing’s First When Dealing With A Leaky Basement
Hopefully, you’re just dealing with a minor leak and caught things early. We all know how often the real world works out like that, however, if your basement is flooded then you’ll need to take certain steps before you can even begin your at-home diagnosis of the problem and hopefully find a fix.
Regardless of the severity of the leak in the first place, take the following steps:
- Shut down any electronics which might be in the room. Remove them if possible
- Use your nose to check for gas leaks as well, sometimes the problems are all connected
- Dry up as much of the water as possible using any means available
If your basement is really flooded then you may need to contact a professional to handle the problem. The important thing is to make sure that any possessions which can be saved are tucked away from the water source and that you don’t get hurt in the process.
Safety first, a flooded basement can range from outright dangerous to a relatively minor affair.
Finding the Problem
Since basements are located underground there’s actually a surprising number of ways for water to get in. Not every leaky basement is going to look like a hurricane blew through after all.
Many times the “leaks” which are occurring can actually be thrown at you in the form of condensation. Basements get humid due to being lower than the ground level, so if you’re just finding water on the walls then you’re probably in for an easy fix.
The causes of a leaky basement can be separated into internal and external problems.
Basically, the problem can be within the basement itself or outside of it. Even landscaping can cause issues with your basement so you’ll need to go over everything quite thoroughly.
Internal Leak Problems
If you have any cracks in the walls or foundation you should do your best to patch them up.
There are a lot of products out there which can make at least a temporary fix.
Other problems which might be lurking inside the basement itself include a lack of insulation, condensation on water pipes, or damage to the surroundings of the windows.
All of these can add up to some pretty serious issues in a hurry.
Regular basement inspection is just part of the luxury of having a sublevel room so even if you’re not currently leaking then you’ll probably want to take a look around for anything which may turn into an issue in the future.
External Leak Problems
There are quite a few seemingly minor changes in landscaping that can help you keep moisture out of the basement.
Some of the common problems which happen include gutters running too close to the home, a lack of a positive slope away from the foundation, and a lack of or plugged up footing drains.
Some of these are relatively easy to fix, but others can require access to some serious equipment or professional help.
Identifying the Leaking Issue
One of the easiest ways to determine whether you have condensation or a real leak is to tape a piece of aluminum foil to the wall for a few days.
When you check it later you’ll be able to tell if it’s condensation or a leak by which side of the foil is wet. Trapped moisture wall side indicates a leak, moisture on the outside of the foil means that you’re dealing with condensation and may need to get a dehumidifier for the room.
There are a number of tell-tale signs of leaks you can check for:
- Calcium build-up
- Peeling paint
- Mold or mildew
- Raised tiles on the floor
- Cracks in the wall or floor
All of these can give you a good indication of where the leak is coming through.
Condensation can also come from leaking pipes, a lack of air flow or steam from dryer lines which are running through the basement.
If you can’t identify where the leak is coming from, however, then it may be time to call a professional to ensure that it’s found and dealt with properly.
Taking Care of Your Leaky Basement
Since there’s such a wide variety of different problems which can lead to moisture getting into your basement you’ll need to carefully assess any potential problems.
If the problem is with condensation then a dehumidifier may be your only option. Keep in mind that landscaping issues can also cause condensation, so make sure that you have a slope downwards from the walls around the basement and that your gutters aren’t dumping water directly around it.
Leaking dryer lines and other steam sources can be handled by re-doing the foil tape on the joints and connections of the pipe.
Remove the old tape and then re-wrap things, three or four layers should be good in most cases.
If the source of water is coming from condensation on the pipes then you may want to run insulation on the pipes. Foam insulation is relatively cheap and incredibly easy to install on any exposed piping running through your basement.
If you’re particularly handy you may be able to install your own wall insulation but many people are going to need professional help to do so.
If all of that fails, then a dehumidifier may be your only option.
Foundation cracks that are leaking can turn into a serious issue so take a good, hard look before you decide to handle the problem yourself. If you attempt to repair a leaking foundation crack you should realize that if it does not stop the leaking and you decide to hire a professional they will likely charge you more than normal.
Trying to fix a previously repaired crack takes a lot more time to prep before it can be fixed properly. In some cases, the crack will have to be repaired from the outside in order to stop the water from getting in. This type of repair results in a much higher price tag.
You can avoid a lot of heartbreak with a basement by making sure that there’s a floor drain installed.
This is mostly a preventative measure to help make sure that you don’t have any additional issues in the future but if you’re already working on waterproofing the basement it’s definitely something you should consider.
By removing standing water efficiently you’ll be able to avoid all but the worst of flooding in the future.
Putting your own soil crown around the edges of the house is pretty easy.
There are a huge number of different drain solutions that can guide water away from your walls but they require some extensive work.
Make sure your gutters run at least five feet from the edge of the walls of your house as well. You can’t keep the soil around the basement one hundred percent dry, but you can definitely work to guide the water away as best as possible.
When Do You Need Professional Help?
Theoretically, you can manage most of these solutions on your own as long as you can identify the source of the leak.
In practice, not everyone has the skill to do so and you might be leading yourself down an expensive path of frustration if you insist on doing it all yourself.
Foundation leaks and outdoor drainage systems are the biggest places where you may need professional help. In the case of actual flooding, you’ll probably want a full solution installed as well.
Hiring someone with the know-how can save you a lot of time and frustration in the long run.
Give Us a Call for Your Leaky Basement
Whether you need advice or think it’s time to deal with the problem professionally give us a call.
We’ve got years in the field, a soft touch, and offer complete solutions for even the worst leaky basement.
Isn’t it about time you made this whole affair an issue of the past?
Contact us today and see what our company can do for you.