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AM Wall Anchor & Water Proofing Resource Article:

What Causes a Basement Leak?

Home repairs are often inconvenient and expensive – not something a homeowner is typically excited to deal with, so they end up putting it on the backburner. However, there are some repairs that are more urgent than others. A leak in the basement, while common, is unfortunately not something that can or should be ignored. If it’s not repaired quickly, it could end up being a very costly bill accompanied by a lot of stress. Read on to learn the common causes of basement leaks, how you’ll be able to identify the issue, and what to do if you find yourself in this situation.

Common Causes for Basement Leaks

There are a couple of common causes for a leaking basement, some of which are unavoidable and usually happen due to the soil around your home or the construction of your basement. 

  • Water pressure: When the soil surrounding your home becomes heavily saturated during intense rain storms, it will create water pressure that will force moisture through your basement floors & walls
  • Poor window well installation: If your window wells are not installed properly, were sealed poorly, or do not have adequate drainage, they could easily fill up with water and leak into your basement
  • Leaky plumbing fixtures: This is common in many homes. Make sure to check all of your pipes connected to your appliances, under your sinks and behind your toilets to ensure there’s no leakage. Even the smallest drip could be a sign of trouble that you’ll want to fix early on.
  • Condensation: This occurs in the basement from combining warm outdoor air & cooler basement walls & floors. While this issue is also sometimes unavoidable, you can install an exhaust fan or insulate your basement to try and avoid larger repair bills from condensation build up.

Common Signs of a Basement Leak

Now that we’ve established how basement leaks can occur, let’s review a few of the tell tale signs that you’ve got a leak on your hands and need to seek help. 

  • Foul odors, such as mold or mildew
  • Structural damage such as rotting or deteriorating floors & columns
  • Condensation (beading water) on the floors or walls
  • Stains on the walls 
  • Water seeping out of the walls

Any of these will indicate that there’s a leak in your basement that should be addressed as soon as possible. We’d recommend seeking professional help to have the area inspected in order to determine the necessary repairs. In some cases, you should be able to make the fix yourself, but a professional will be able to tell you the severity of the repairs needed.

How to Repair a Basement Leak

As mentioned above, the repairs needed for your leaking basement will depend on the source of the issue, and the severity of the damage. 

For a crack in the floor or walls, you’ll need to ensure that the drainage surrounding the house is functioning properly. If it’s a structural issue then you’ll likely need anchors to repair the gaps created.

If the leaking basement was caused by issues with your window wells, you should be able to install window well covers to keep the area free of debris and build up. You can find these at any home improvement store.

Leaking pipes are another pretty easy fix if you catch it soon enough! If you’re handy and can identify the replacement parts needed for your plumbing, you can swap out the old defective pipes yourself. This should resolve any sort of basement leak issues, but if you want to be safe you can call your local plumber and have them take care of the work. They’ll also be able to let you know if the damage was extensive enough that you need an expert foundation & basement team like A.M. to assist.

If you notice condensation is an issue in your area, check your dryer exhaust and a/c drain and clear any clogs that you might see. As we mentioned above you can also look into insulating your basement (if it isn’t already) or adding an exhaust fan to help with the amount of condensation being generated.

When to Call a Professional

Because a basement leak has the potential to be a much larger foundation or drainage issue, we’d recommend calling a professional as soon as you observe the first sign of water damage. They’ll be able to take the work and stress off of your hands, give you a full diagnosis, and make sure the proper repairs were completed to avoid any further significant leaking.

There’s a chance if you attempt to make these fixes on your own, without knowing for certain that you’ve identified all problem areas, that you’ll run into bigger problems down the line. We always recommend letting the experts step in as early as possible when it involves your home’s foundation or basement.

If you have additional questions about a potential basement leak, feel free to reach out to our team here! We’re happy to help answer any questions or alleviate any concerns you may have. Our resource center is also a great place to research common foundation & basement issues with our expert guidance on how to solve them.

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