A basement is one of the top features homeowners look for when choosing a property to purchase. A well-designed basement provides more area for living and entertaining. And even if it’s not well-designed, a basement adds an element of value to your home just by virtue of extra storage space.
But even though it's underground, a basement is not impervious to the elements. In fact, there are several ways that water can make its way inside, causing basement leaks that can put a real damper on your enjoyment.
If you have a leaky basement, don’t worry — it doesn’t necessarily mean that your house isn’t well-constructed. There are many factors that contribute to or worsen a leaking basement and we’re going to address each one.
9 Reasons You May Be Experiencing a Basement Leak
There are many things that can cause a basement leak — from improper grading of your landscape to leaky window wells.
Let’s explore the possibilities to help you narrow down the source of your problem so you can get it repaired properly.
1. Improper Grading
Let’s start with the outside of your home. One cause of basement leakage is Improper grading of the property. Soil that is sloping toward the foundation can lead to water accumulating against the foundation wall creating hydrostatic pressure resulting in leaking into the basement, or walls pushing inward.
The water can then enter the basement in the following ways:
- Over the top of the foundation
- Through the wall via cracks
- Around areas where pipes penetrate the walls
- Where the stem wall meets the footing, i.e., the cove base.
In these cases, Atlas can assist the homeowner by properly determining the cause of the leaks in the basement and design a permanent repair, typically with a lifetime warranty.
2. Leaky Window Wells
Window wells are a beautiful addition to a basement, letting light and air into the area. But if a drain is clogged or missing or the well liner is separated from the well, water can seep in around the window frame or even push the well inward.
3. Hydrostatic or Lateral Pressure
Pressure around a home’s foundation can lead to foundation cracks that can allow water to enter. Hydrostatic pressure occurs when a heavy snow melt or rainstorm causes the water table to rise due to the saturation of surface soils.
As the water table rises it presses against the foundation from below and cause cracking that allows water inside.
Lateral pressure is caused when the soil around your foundation doesn’t drain correctly. Some soils, like that found in the Chicago area which is about 85% clay, don’t drain well and tend to expand, pressing against your foundation with a sideways pressure that can initiate cracking.
4. Cracks in Your Basement Floor
Remember the hydrostatic pressure we mentioned? The upward pressure of a rising water table can cause water to seep into the basement through these thin cracks.
5. Non-Structural Wall Cracks
While a crack in your poured concrete basement wall may not be a sign of a structural weakness, they can allow water into the basement when lateral pressure is detected or as your foundation experiences the typical dropping and settling that occurs in the months and years following the pour.
6. Weakness in the Mortar Joints
Some basement foundation walls are created with masonry — a strong solution that can provide support for even the largest homes. But they do have a weakness — the mortar joints that are responsible for holding the masonry blocks together act as a weak point for letting water through.
7. Wall Porosity
Whether your basement walls are poured concrete or constructed with masonry block and mortar, they can act as an inroad for water seepage. Insufficient mixing of materials and other defects such as empty spaces or cavities in the block can lead to areas where the material is more porous.
This porosity will give water a natural way into your basement.
8. Clogged or Malfunctioning Gutters
Did you know that an average home on a half-acre lot gets 13,577 gallons of water for every inch of rain. That’s an incredible amount of water for your home to handle!
If your downspouts and gutters are in good working order, channeling that water away from your foundation — and your basement — is typically not a problem.
However, if your rain gutters are clogged, not connected correctly or your downspouts are malfunctioning, all that water will have a significant impact on your basement by saturating the soil and causing that lateral pressure we talked about earlier.
9. Interior Leaks
Not all basement leaks are caused by outside sources. Typical indoor sources of leaks can include:
- Bad plumbing pipes
- Leaky showers or toilets
- Cracked or leaky water heater
- Leaks in dishwashers and washing machines
Check all indoor sources of leaks before moving out-of-doors to manage basement leaks, since these indoor issues are easiest to solve.
Expert Help for My Leaky Basement
While some indoor leaks can be easy for a competent do-it-yourselfer to solve, most of the other problems we’ve outlined take expert knowledge to get to the source of the problem and create a solution that offers long-term peace of mind.
Atlas has decades of experience specific to the Chicagoland area. We have a deep understanding of the local soils, water table, and weather issues that contribute to the typical water seepage and leak problems we see in local basements.
Our team can assist you in solving your leaky basement problems by properly determining the cause of the leaks in the basement and designing a permanent repair.
Our drain tile work comes with a lifetime warranty, guaranteeing that you’ll be able to enjoy your dry, cozy basement living or storage space for years to come.
Need help repairing a basement leak? Call Atlas Restoration at 847-415-9600 for a free consultation.