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How to Fix a Leaky Basement

leaky basement rubber boots in water

Basement leaks are among the most common structural issues homeowners can face. In a way, this makes intuitive sense, given that the basement is the lowest point within the structure of the home.

But this doesn't make it any less distressing when you discover your basement has sprung a leak! You can't seem to figure out where the water is coming from. You want to stop it ASAP. You need to figure out who to call and how you are going to pay for this unexpected home repair.

In this timely post, we walk you through the basics of how water gets into your basement and how to fix the issue.

How Water Gets Into Your Basement

Figuring out how to fix a leaky basement begins with understanding how moisture gets into your basement in the first place.

This can be a lot harder than it sounds: often, water is entering from a place hidden behind walls, floors or ceilings, and you can't see the source of the leak. This is frustrating because if you can't find the source of the leak, you can't stop it.

Here are some of the most common routes water takes to enter your basement:

Pipes

Leaking pipes can be particularly challenging to diagnose since most home piping is located in truly inaccessible areas. But leaking pipes are also some of the most common culprits of water leaks in the basement. Canada's extreme winter weather is notorious for causing frozen pipes, which can also lead to more serious cracks and water leaks.

Cracks

If your home is older, it is quite normal that seals around windows and doors degrade or crack over time. These cracks might be quite tiny, but they can still allow moisture to seep into your basement space.

Sump pump

An older sump pump that is being asked to pull double duty moving excess water outside your basement may in time begin to fall down on the job. This may indicate your sump pump has reached the end of its useful life. But if you inherited the sump pump along with your home purchase and you don't have its maintenance records, you may just need to schedule routine cleaning and a tune-up to get your sump pump working again.

Foundation

The soil around your home's foundation can collect quite a bit of moisture after heavy rainfall. This typically isn't a major source of concern so long as your home's drainage structures are properly placed and functioning. A number of factors can cause drainage issues, from clogged gutters and blocked downspouts to inadequate (or missing) slope.

Humidity

One particularly stealthy source of basement water is condensation that forms due to overly high humidity levels. Basements, like attics and crawl spaces, can be more vulnerable to seasonal humidity shifts.

Warning Signs of Basement Leaks

Aside from the obvious warning sign—standing water in your basement—you can keep an eye out for these additional key warning signs that your basement has a leak somewhere.

Odour

Dank, grassy, damp, sweaty, stale: these are just some of the terms used to describe the telltale odour produced by mildew and mould as it grows.

White powdery deposits

These deposits are called "efflorescence" and are caused when water seeps in and evaporates, leaving behind mineral deposits.

Discolouration

Rusty or brown stains, darker patches and greenish or black areas on floors or walls are all potential signs of water damage due to basement leaks.

Sump pump never shuts off

A continuously running sump pump can indicate a constant effort to move water out of your basement space.

Cracks or flaking

Cracks in walls or floors and flaking paint can indicate degradation caused by slow leaks and water seepage as well as condensation/humidity.

First Steps to Fix a Leaking Basement

It just makes sense that your first step in fixing a leaky basement is to accurately diagnose the source and extent of the leak(s). Typically this is a job for the pros: it can require a detailed knowledge of the "behind the scenes" of your home to know what to look for and how to access it.

Once the cause and scope are identified, it is time to solve the leak. In many instances, permanently resolving the leak requires combining more than one approach.

Common solutions to fix a leaking basement can include the following:

Crack repair

Crack repair and wall anchors can stop current leaks and shore up weak areas of your basement walls and flooring.

Back-up sump system

Many homeowners today are installing backup sump systems to support an aging or overtaxed primary sump pump.

Window and well drains

Aging, rusting window and well drains can let unwelcome water into your basement. Replacement is the most common fix.

Insulation

Installing the right type of insulation can go a long way toward guarding against mould, mildew, humidity and condensation collecting in your basement.

Downspout extensions

Extensions can enhance any existing home drainage system to be sure water does not pool around your home and seep into your basement.

Drainage system repair or replacement

Drainage systems are vulnerable to age-related wear and tear. Repairs or a full replacement when that time comes can guard against future basement leaks.

Basement waterproofing

Full basement waterproofing is one of our most popular and requested repair options because it is both a treatment and a permanent solution. To date, we have installed more than a thousand basement waterproofing systems.

Get in Touch

Do you need help protecting your home against leaks, cracks and damage? Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.

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