If you’re reading this post it is highly likely that you have a leaky basement and you want to know what needs to be done and what your options are. One thing is for sure, you need to be sure of what the source of the basement leak actually is before you entertain any basement repair.
It Starts With the Source of the Leaky Basement
Before giving serious consideration to any leaky basement solution it is essential that the cause of the wet basement be understood; this is because not all leaky basements result from leaks through foundation walls. In fact, probably 15% of leaky basements are not caused by foundation problems at all. Here are a few examples of basement leaks that have nothing to do with the foundation:
- A rising water table beneath the basement floor;
- Deteriorated caulking around a patio door or window that allows water to penetrate the building envelope and make its way into the basement during heavy rains;
- Roof leaks that manifest themselves in the basement; and
- Plumbing leaks.
Follow this hyperlink for more information on basement leak sources.
When the Cause of a Leaky Basement is the Foundation
When a basement leaks from the foundation walls, the direct cause is hydrostatic pressure (pressure of the groundwater / water table) against the foundation; obviously there has to be some path of entry through the wall for water to enter into the basement.
If there was no hydrostatic pressure against your foundation walls you would never experience a leaky basement. Many advice columns, on the internet or otherwise, use this premise to recommend actions to be taken to prevent basement leaks. These recommended actions aimed at reducing hydrostatic pressure typically involve:
- Diverting rainwater from downspouts away from the house;
- Adjusting the grading to ensure that surface runoff does not pool against the foundation; and
- Installing window well covers so that water cannot enter a window well from the top.
While the measures above do reduce the severity of basement leaks by reducing the hydrostatic pressure on the foundation they, in fact, are not comprehensive leaky basement solutions. Genuine leaky basement solutions involve the active waterproofing of the foundation.
Common Leaky Basement Solutions
In discussing leaky basement solutions in the context of waterproofing the basement, the solutions can be broadly categorized as internal and external solutions. These two categories are then broken down into specific waterproofing methods based on the foundation type and exact cause(s) of the basement leaks.
In general, leaks in poured concrete foundations are repaired from the inside using epoxy and/or polyurethane injection. Concrete block / cinder block foundations are waterproofed by excavating and waterproofing the foundation walls or by installing an interior weeping tile system.
Click on this hyperlink for a comprehensive list of leaky basement solutions.