It’s not at all uncommon to have water in your basement. In fact, wet basement walls are so common that it’s easy to feel as if water in one’s basement is inevitable and to convince yourself not to act quickly to repair the damage that may have incurred. When left unaddressed, however, water infiltrating into your basement can initiate a host of serious problems, from acute damage to your house to creating serious health concerns for your family. It’s important to act quickly to rectify the issues that might be causing water to enter your basement and to call water damage experts to repair any damage caused by water before they become more serious.  

Identifying Water in Your Basement

Water or moisture in your basement can be difficult to identify. There are a number of notable signs that may indicate that there is moisture in your basement. Go down into your basement and perform a visual inspection of your basement to check for any of these signs that water has infiltrated your basement:

  • Visible standing water or water trickling out of the walls
  • Condensation on the walls, floor, or ceiling
  • Stained walls
  • Damp, Humid Air
  • Deteriorating Carpet or Wood
  • Odor (particularly of Mold or Mildew)
  • Mold or Mildew
  • Rotting or decaying floor joists

All of these signs indicate that there is moisture in the basement. It’s important to act to address moisture in your basement for a number of reasons. Uninvited water will almost inevitably cause damage or mold to grow, especially as time passes. Water in your basement can cause damage to your house’s foundation, which can compromise your home’s structural integrity. Although the water that infiltrates your home may be clean, it could also contain bacteria or other organisms. This can allow pests to breed inside your home. Over time, moisture will cause mold growth, which can exacerbate health issues like allergy and asthma. 

The longer water sits, the more severe impact it can have on your home and your family’s health. It’s important to identify why there is water in your basement in order to rectify the issue swiftly and without delay. 

Causes of Water in You Basement

There are three primary sources that allow moisture to enter the basement. These sources include water from groundwater rising or from rain; moisture sources from inside of the home including bathrooms and kitchens, unvented clothes dryers, humidifiers, and moisture in concrete following construction; and humid air from outside that enters the basement and condenses on cool surfaces. Moisture can enter the basement from outside through liquid water flow, air movement, vapor diffusion, and capillary suction.

There are a number of common causes of basement moisture that you may be currently experiencing. By identifying the cause of the water entering your basement, you are able to not only identify and solve the problem, but prevent future problems from occurring. These are some of the most common causes of water in your basement, and repairs that you can perform: 

1. Water Leaks

This is probably the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of water entering the basement from inside one’s home. Leaks from inside the home could come from any number of sources: a toilet, shower, sink, broken pipe, dishwasher, or washing machine could be the culprit. If you are able to locate an isolated instance of water in the basement, like a puddle on the floor or a stain on the walls, you may be able to trace the leak back to its source. For example, if the moisture is located on the ceiling or walls below the shower, it’s likely that your shower is to blame.  

Interior leaks are generally easy to repair. Once you’re able to identify the source of the leak, either fix the leak yourself, or call in a plumber to help you finish the repair. 

2. Defective Gutters and Downspouts

As time passes, gutters and downspouts fall into disrepair, and it’s easy to not notice before it’s too late. Gutters and downspouts are intended to direct rainwater away from your home’s foundation, but if they are missing, damaged, or not functioning properly, rainwater can be rerouted towards your home. The water can accumulate in the soil around one’s house, or drain into the house itself, infiltrating the basement. This can cause generalized moisture, as water slowly seeps into the home, or puddles or isolated instances of water.

If you don’t have gutters, it’s important to install them in order to divert water away from the home. If you already have gutters, they should be cleaned regularly to remove leaves and other debris from them in order to ensure that they are functioning properly. If you think that your existing gutters may not be draining water properly, you can perform a visual inspection to look for gaps or breakage in your gutters, and patch or replace these spots. 

3. Foundational Cracks

Any cracks in your foundation can be cause for serious leakage. If there are cracks in your foundation, water will inevitably enter your home through water in the ground soil. Often, water is the source of the cracks themselves as it disrupts the shape of the foundation. If water begins to accumulate near or around your home’s foundation, hydrostatic pressure can force water into the walls.  If your floor joists are not appropriately attached to the foundation walls, the walls may begin to move and form cracks over time. Left unrepaired, these cracks can become enlarged over time, causing more water to enter. Thus, it’s important to catch this particular problem early in order to prevent serious, ongoing damage to one’s foundation. 

Repairs for foundational cracks can vary widely depending on the cause. Hydrostatic pressure, for example, can be solved by repairing exterior drainage systems to prevent water from accumulating around the foundation. If structural problems, like a shifting foundation, caused the cracks to form, proper footing and connections can be installed to seal the gaps. 

4. Basement Condensation

Basements are generally naturally cool locations, and when warm, humid air meets the cool basement air, condensation forms. This can cause moisture to appear on walls, ceilings, and surfaces in the basement. Fortunately, this problem is relatively easy to solve. 

To reduce condensation in the air, check your dryer’s exhaust to ensure it is flowing freely and is not clogged, and drain your central air conditioner. These can both cause significant amounts of moisture to enter the air if they aren’t working properly. Another common problem in basements is the absence of an exhaust fan, which can divert steam created by hot showers and cooking steam. Once you have installed an exhaust fan, it’s important to remember to use it after taking a shower or when using the stove.  

Insulation can also help prevent moisture from accumulating. Covering walls, pipes, ducts, or other places where condensation begins to amass can prevent warm air from entering, coming into contact with cool surfaces, and creating condensation. 

Enhancing circulation in your basement can help to cycle out condensation in the air. You can do this by installing air conditioning vents in the basement, or adding a fan and running it daily to circulate moisture.  

5. Inadequate Grading

Grading creates a level base, or consistent slope, in the ground around your home. The ground around your foundation should not slope towards the house, but rather should slope away from it, preventing groundwater from accumulating around your home. When the dirt around your foundation isn’t compacted adequately, the slope may slowly shift or change direction. When the ground around your home does not slope away from the home, water may begin to slope towards the home. 

This problem can be solved by creating a slope in the right direction by building up the ground around your home. You can do this by adding dirt around the house, and aim to create a slope of at least one inch per foot, for at least 6 feet away from the base of your home. 

Solving Water in Your Basement

No matter what the cause of your basement moisture, the most important thing is to act quickly to have both the source of the water and the damage that it has cause assessed. Time is everything when it comes to water in your basement. Environmental Protective Solution (EPS) has extensive experience solving water damage issues in homes. Even if you are able to solve problems causing water damage, it’s important to repair any damage that it may have caused to one’s home, and mold that it may have created in the process. EPS focuses not only on repairing damage, but also on preventing future water damage issues.