Basements leak. That is just a fact of life, unless you have the know how to fix a leaky basement. Many homeowners have suffered through moldy and unusable basements simply because of a leak. If you are not a handyman by trade, you can still stop a leak in the basement and turn a once dungeon-like atmosphere into a dry and cheerful place within the home. Also remember that many leaks in your basement could have been triggered by a leak in your roof. Be sure to have your roof inspected by a company like ABC Roofing.
Fixing Leaky Basement
6 steps are discussed below to fix basement leaks. Environmental conditions may vary the fixing process. This procedure is given for educational purpose only. It is always better to do the work by a professional engineer as there are many conditions that can vary under different situations.
Step 1: The Aluminum Foil Test
Moisture in basements will come from one of two sources. The trick is figuring out which one. One source is indoor humidity. It will condense on cold surfaces. The other culprit is water or water vapor that comes from outside. Many people suggest using aluminum foil taped to the wall to find where the leak is coming from. This is not necessarily a step that is needed since the other methods listed here usually find the problem without breaking out the aluminum foil.
Step 2: Moisture from Dryer Vent
Clothes dryers that are not properly vented creates humidity within the air as will unvented showers or constantly running a humidifier. The humid air then comes in contact with cool surfaces and condenses into water. The condensation then drips off pipes and runs down walls. This makes the basement seem as if it is sweating. Make sure that the dryer vent is properly sealed and vented. If there is a bathroom in the basement, add a vent fan and make sure that it is used when showering. Always keep basement windows closed during humid weather. If you are still seeing condensation, run a de-humidifier to lower the levels of humidity in the basement.
Step 3: Insulate Pipes
Insulating cool surfaces will help to keep condensation from accumulating and causing dampness within the basement. Wrap cold water pipes with foam insulation, install a toilet tank insulating kit or replace the toilet with a toilet that has an insulated tank. Insulate exterior walls to reduce condensation. Do not cover the exterior walls if they are leaking. Fix all leaks prior to insulating or you will be dealing with a mold problem.
Step 4: Patch Holes
Check for cracks or holes within the walls and flooring. Waterproof the walls after fixing the holes and cracks using an epoxy sealer. A sturdy mortar can also be used to patch holes and cracks. Clean the area thoroughly prior to filling the holes. Follow label directions for either the epoxy or the mortar mix. Allow the wall to cure for the recommended amount of time before applying a waterproof sealant on the walls and floor.
Step 5: Keep Water from Foundation
If the basement leaks after a heavy rain or melting snow, the water needs to be diverted from the foundation. As the soil settles, it creates a well next to the foundation that traps water against the foundation. Build up the soil grade to where it is sloping away from the foundation.
Step 6: Extend the Downspout
Install a gutter system if one is not already in place. Keep the gutters clean of leaves and debris.
Most downspouts do not direct water far enough away from the foundation and therefore an extension is a good idea. Extend the downspout to four or six feet. Check the gutter system during the next heavy rain to ensure that the gutters are properly working. If the downspout is pumping out water quickly but the gutters are still overflowing, put in additional downspouts to handle the excess water.