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Common Reasons For A Wet Basement

ImageBasement waterproofing is one of those topics that as a homeowner, you know is important yet you don’t always seem to get around to doing it unless a problem comes up.  That ‘problem’ is a wet basement, and it can really cause some frustration and anger if it happens to you, especially if your basement is finished and fully furnished. 

Of course, wet basements don’t just happen out of the blue for no reason.  In the interest of keeping your basement waterproofing efforts worth your time and money, here are some of the most common reasons for a wet basement. 

Leaky Pipes

This one is pretty straightforward.  If you have pipes that have sprung a leak and they happen to be located in your basement, you’ll end up with a wet basement.  Do yourself a favour and schedule regular inspections to keep your pipes leak-free. 

Rain Runoff

If the rain water from that big downpour or the melted snow isn’t directed away from the house properly, it could end up in your basement.  This is definitely one of the most common reasons for wet basements, and should be on your mind when you’re formulating a basement waterproofing plan.  Cracks in the foundation can also result in runoff finding its way into your basement. 


If you happen to have uninsulated cold water pipes or the foundation walls are cool and you have a lot of moisture in the air, you may end up with a condensation problem.  This can result in a damp carpet, walls and appliances.  Condensation is also known as sweating. 

Clogged Gutters

The gutters on your roof can also contribute to a wet basement.  Even though they seem pretty far away from the basement, if they don’t drain down through the downspouts properly, that water could end up in the basement.  Downspouts should drain at least four feet away from the house to ensure the water doesn’t get inside. 

Clogged  Basement Drain

If that drain that you barely notice in your basement becomes clogged, you may be looking at a back up and moisture problem.  The drain is located in the laundry room area, and they can become clogged with all sorts of different materials, including roots and silt.  Make sure you and your plumber consider the drain in your basement waterproofing plans.  It only takes one weak area to give you a wet basement and all the problems that come along with it.


How does a basement become waterproofed?

As anyone involved in the construction field will tell you, subterranean (below ground) construction has a number of problems Imageassociated with it. Many of which the layperson wouldn’t expect. Besides the fear of structural collapse and integrity, there comes another creeping issue: water leakage. It’s such a problem in some places that below-ground construction is almost impossible. Florida is infamous for being unable to install basements due to all the work it will take to waterproof them.

Why is Subterranean Water an Issue?
Water becomes an issue as soon as it is decided that construction will include work at or below ground level. It’s especially important because of a process called hydrostatic pressure. Without going into all the complex mathematics and dynamics, it’s essentially the pressure water at equilibrium exerts due to the force of gravity. This also plays into the fact that water, like most liquids, is incompressible. This means that, no matter how hard you press on a determined amount of water, it will not compress into a smaller shape. It will instead disperse out. When homes are being constructed, fluid dispersal isn’t so much out as much as it is up. That is, through the cracks in the concrete and construction. The force of the building being erected above the water table causes the water to flow up through the cracks. Obviously, this causes many significant concerns in a building’s structural integrity.

Waterproofing a basement is a multifaceted approach. There is no one way to go about it and often takes a combination of techniques. The most common and effective way to manage below-ground water is to utilize both draining and prevention techniques. The most common ways that construction agencies go about this is through interior drainage, interior floor and wall sealants, and exterior sealants.

Interior Drainage:
Interior Drainage may seem superficially simple (it’s often just a strategically placed drain), but the reality is much more complicated. For one thing, it isn’t even considered water-proofing. It works to prevent flooding and other water issues but it doesn’t directly prevent water from seeping in. Regardless, it is still considered a method of protecting the subterranean levels of the house. The water flows into the drain and is dispersed into what is called a sump pump. The sump pump consequently flows the water out of the house.

Interior Sealants:
In order to secure poured concrete foundations, a sealant like epoxy or urethane is used to seep in and block any of the inherent cracks. This process isn’t permanent, but is often guaranteed for a decade. It prevents the water from seeping in the points of least resistance and forces it away from the interior. In masonry houses, however, interior sealants aren’t as effective. Interior sealants due prevent high atmospheric humidity for a while which in itself is a common cause of damage. Further methods can include sheets of PVC and other membranes.

Exterior Sealants:
Exterior Water Sealing is the only way the IBC (International Building Code) recognizes as adequate water prevention. Asphalt was originally the sealant used to prevent intrusion, but over time the technology has advanced. Just like with the interior sealants, many of the exterior ones are now advanced polymers.

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