How to Determine the Underlying Cause of Basement Leaks

how to determine the cause of basement leaks

When it comes to leaks in your basement, it’s important to determine the underlying cause of the problem. This will help you take the right action to fix it!

The most common underlying cause of basement leaks is rainwater runoff. This can be caused by grading that slants towards your house rather than downwards, poor landscaping or drainage issues.

Inspect the exterior of your home for cracks or other damage.

If you’ve noticed that there are drippings around the base of your home, it might be time to inspect the exterior for cracks. These may be signs of a more serious problem with the foundation that requires professional repair or remediation.

Hairline cracks that occur shortly after the foundation has been poured are harmless. But if they grow larger or expand into a wider area, then they should be monitored by a contractor.

Thin vertical cracks, whether they extend from the top of the wall down to the floor or start diagonally in concrete and then go through block faces, are not typically structural. They usually result from minor groundwater pressure changes caused by soil contraction and expansion.

If the cracks are extending through blocks or bricks, it could be a sign of a settling foundation. This happens in new or older homes as a result of changing ground conditions. This can also be the case if you notice leaks where the wall meets the floor. A reputable foundation company can assess these cracks and recommend appropriate repairs. 

Check your foundation walls for signs of water leak.

The foundation walls of a home provide stability for the structure as well as protection against moisture, lateral forces and pests. They keep the below ground space dry by isolating and draining water away.

  • Check for signs of water leaks on a regular basis. This will help to prevent further damage from occurring and can save you a lot of money in the long run.
  • Inspect your foundation walls. This will give you an idea of how much damage the leak is causing and what steps you need to take to resolve the issue.
  • Pull back your carpet next to the foundation wall and look for a tack strip that is discolored or rusted. If this is the case, there is a high chance that moisture is entering your foundation through a hole or crack in the wall.

If you see any of these signs, it’s best to contact a foundation expert to assess the damage and recommend a solution. This will ensure that your home remains safe and structurally sound for years to come.

check foundations

Divert rainwater away from the base of your home.

If your basement leaks after a heavy rain, it may be a sign that water is pooling near the base of your home. This is a common problem caused by inadequate drainage around the home. It can lead to foundation problems, including erosion, basement flooding, and soil and grass deterioration.

In most cases, you can prevent this from happening by diverting water away from the base of your home. The best way to do this is to clean your gutters. Then extend downspouts far enough to carry the water out of your yard.

When doing this, make sure to clean your downspouts regularly. Keep them free from debris that could clog them and cause damage. Also, don’t redirect the rainwater toward a driveway where it can freeze in winter.

Other effective ways to divert rainwater away from the base of your home include French drains and basement exterior drain systems. These systems consist of trenches that are lined with gravel to prevent water from pooling near the house. They can also be used to direct rainwater to a sump pump or other location that can handle the water properly.

Investigate the roof and gutters.

The roof and gutters of a home play an important role in keeping the building protected from the elements. It is essential to keep them in good shape and regularly inspect them to prevent problems from occurring.

Gutters catch and divert rainwater off of the roof, then direct it away from the house via downspouts. Without gutters, the water would simply pool around the foundation of the house and cause serious damage.

They also help prevent soil erosion from rainwater that splashes off the roof and into garden beds or other areas adjacent to a house. If the soil is too saturated, it can cause the foundation of a home to erode and settle.

When you notice a leak, investigate the gutters and roof. Determine whether it is caused by clogged gutters or pitch issues. If the underlying cause is the roof, go up to the roof with a flashlight. Check for water stains or black marks.

what causes the leaks?

Look for leaks around windows and doors.

Window condensation isn’t always a sign of a leak. But it’s important to check for the presence of moisture in the window panes. If you see black spots or stains on the glass, this could be due to a broken seal or mold growth.

A clogged sill pan or sloped window sill is another common problem that can lead to water leaking into the bottom of the window frame. This can cause damage to the frame itself and the wood underneath it. This isn’t good for your home or your wallet.

You can also use a non-contact thermometer to measure the ambient temperature around the frame of your windows and doors to detect any air leaks. If the thermometer registers a colder temperature than the surrounding area, this is an indication of air getting in from the outside.

Seal the cracks around pipes or vents in your basement.

Depending on the size of the leak, you may be able to plug it with a type of hydraulic cement. Hydraulic cement works well for these types of holes or cracks. It sets up even under water, and expands as it dries to seal and lock the plug in place.

In some cases, this can be done by spraying high-temperature caulk over the tops of the pipes or vents, and shooting foam sealant around larger gaps for wires, pipes, and ducts that pass through your basement walls to the outside.

Air leaks are a common culprit of basement drafts and chilly feelings that can wreak havoc on your energy bills and your comfort. Sealing these hidden openings is one of the simplest and easiest ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency.

basement leak-free

Take appropriate action based on your findings.

The first step when dealing with a basement leak is to determine the source of the water

  • If it’s coming from outside, then you will need to repair or replace any cracked or faulty seals on exterior walls and windows. 
  • If it’s coming from inside, then you should look for plumbing problems such as broken pipes or leaking fixtures. But if the source of the water is due to rising groundwater, then you need to find a way to divert or drain the excess water away from your basement.

Once you’ve identified and fixed the source of the leak, make sure that there are no further signs of moisture, as this can cause structural damage. 

  • Ensure that all gutters, downspouts and drains are in good condition and free of clogs or blockages. 
  • Inspect your foundation for cracks or gaps which could allow water to enter the basement.

If the leak is significant, it’s a good idea to enlist professional help from a structural engineer or waterproofing specialist. They will be able to inspect the problem. And they will recommend a course of action to repair or prevent further damage from occurring. 

Install new waterproof membranes, sealants and drainage systems to ensure that your basement is protected from future leaks. Consider installing sump pumps or dehumidifiers to prevent water from accumulating in the basement. 

With proper maintenance and care, your basement will remain dry and free of leaks for years to come!

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Find out what causes the leaks in your basement. Then take appropriate action! With proper care, your basement will remain free of leaks!

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