On this page we discuss what you must know about repairing basement leaks – BEFORE calling around.
When you discover water in your basement it is commonly assumed that the basement walls are leaking; consequently, most homeowners immediately seek out a waterproofing contractor on Google, or in online and print directories to get quotes / opinions for getting the basement leak repaired. The problem is that calling the wrong company can prove to be a very costly mistake, and you may never come to realize that you paid a fortune when it wasn’t necessary.
The standard approach to basement leak repair
From what our clients have told us, we estimate that 8 out of 10 contractors will recommend the excavation and waterproofing of a foundation, with weeping tile replacement; and in most cases, without having positively confirmed the precise source or cause of the basement leak. In the pictures above we have two very different situations: the leaking foundation crack, which is very obvious, and a leak from the top of the wall which is often hidden behind drywall.
Repairing a leaking foundation crack is straightforward, but dealing with a leak from the top of the wall is something completely different. In this particular case, water is penetrating the building envelope above grade; no amount of basement waterproofing will ever resolve it!
Investigating the cause of a basement leak is crucial
Unless you can visually observe the source of the leak you really cannot conclude with absolute certainty that the water you found in your basement is due to a foundation or basement leak; in fact, there are many ways in which water ends up in your basement and leaves you with a puddle of water on the floor to deal with.
Click on the following hyperlink for greater detail on the common sources of basement leaks.
If you clicked on the hyperlink above, you can’t help but realize that there are many ways in which water can end up on your basement floor; therefore, it is clear that establishing the source of the water ingress is crucial. A thorough investigation is essential! We cannot overstate the importance of this investigation; many people get talked into very expensive external waterproofing or fancy proprietary waterproofing systems for basement leak repairs even though the precise source of the leak was never conclusively established. Over the years we have encountered many clients who have had their foundations excavated and waterproofed when the real issue wasn’t a basement leak but plumbing leaks, leaks around window and door frames, roofing leaks, etc.
In an unfinished basement it is relatively simple to establish whether or not the foundation is leaking; however, a finished basement poses a problem in that the characteristic staining of water leaks and foundation deterioration are not visually observable. In a finished basement it is essential that a waterproofing contractor use moisture detection equipment to zero in on the likely location of the basement leak(s). The actual source of basement leak(s) is often misdiagnosed because most companies use salespeople without substantial diagnostic experience and/or training to sell their basement waterproofing services or, quite often, their proprietary basement waterproofing systems which they claim are “cure all” ways to repair basement leaks.
Only after the source of a basement leak has been established is it possible to discuss the repair options to resolve the leak. In some cases the solution will be a standard basement leak repair such as a crack injection in a poured concrete foundation or an interior weeping tile system for a concrete block foundation. Quite often, simply caulking around a door frame or tuck pointing mortar joints that have deteriorated on window sills and brick walls is all that is required, not basement wall leak repairs.
Choosing the appropriate basement leak repair
Once it has been clearly established that there is, in fact, a basement leak requiring repair, the next step is to establish the extent to which repairs are required and the most suitable method for solving the problem. The available basement leak repair options are summarized on the following page: Basement waterproofing repair methods. This page provides hyperlinks to the pages on our website dedicated to each type of basement leak repair.
If you need help in the Greater Toronto Area, contact AquaGuard Injection & Waterproofing®.