No matter the season, your home has potential for wet basement problems. It’s one of the more common home issues that you can experience.
However, a wet basement can mean something far worse is happening under your nose. Even if it just smells musty or not so pleasant, this too is a sign that water is finding a way in, and potentially destroying your foundation.
Sometimes a wet basement feels humid, and even though you never actually see water or a point of entry, wood is in contact with masonry, and is wet and slowly decaying.
A surefire way to conclude that this is a problem, is to look closely for a chalky, white substance left behind after initial evaporation. This is known as efflorescence, and is a sign water is present.
Further, if tiles are popped up and protruding, or carpets are damp or moist, there is little doubt that water is the culprit, and you have wet basement problems.
Seek the Water Out
Step one in drying out a basement is to seek out the problem and prepare to put a stopper in it. Keep an eye out for points of entry. Look for infiltration of surface and groundwater, excess outside humidity, and indoor humidity that is resting on interior walls.
Surface Water Intrusion: when gravity carries water towards your foundation and it finds entry.
Groundwater Intrusion: when water enters through the walls due to wicking, hydrostatic pressure, or excess and elevated groundwater.
Fixing Surface Water Problems
Surface water problems are fairly easy to spot. To begin with, take a close look at the exterior of your home. Pay special attention to how and where your roof drains, and ensure that guttering and downspouts are efficient and functioning per manufacturer standards.
If you notice that when it rains your gutters overflow, check connecting elbows for clogs. Debris from trees and even pieces of shingles can stop water from draining as intended.
If you find that there is an absence of debris where water is building up, look into replacing gutters with larger, more efficient versions. Or, if you find that downspouts aren’t moving water away fast enough, look into extensions that route the water far away from your home (at least 10-feet).
After you are certain that your home’s guttering is working effectively, it’s time to look at the slope of the ground next to your home. As the ground settles, low spots develop. Fill in these low spots with fill dirt and level the ground away from your home.
Last, take a look at your basement windows and window wells. Water can collect in these spots and cause leaks in your basement. If you find that they are faulty, talk to a professional about replacing them with egress windows.
Fixing Groundwater Problems
Curbing groundwater problems is perhaps the most difficult. Soil surrounding a home may be made up of heavy materials (like clay) that don’t lend to proper drainage.
Further, as water seeps into the ground after rain or snow, water tables can become too saturated. Water from bloated, saturated soils then push greatly on the walls of your foundation, causing tiny fissures and cracks. Then, as groundwater rises above your basement floor, it finds a way in.
Patches and crack sealers can temporarily stop this type of problem. But will not stop the ongoing issue on the exterior. Large cracks can eventually appear, and as time goes on, foundation walls will crumble and fall.
It is usually best to talk to a professional about groundwater problems. Modern equipment can detect and correct problems, helping specialists correct the issue in a timely manner.
Fixing a wet basement may mean a lot of work for the homeowner. Sometimes the fix is greater than just some sealant or a new gutter. It may mean replacing decaying wood, rebuilding walls, or removing and replacing soil completely.