Why Do Basements Leak? Learn from the Nebraska Basement Experts

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010 by Thrasher

Finding out that you have yet another wet basement can be very discouraging. Water can leak through many areas in foundation walls. By learning where the basement is leaking from can save you a lot of time and frustration. Being basement experts in the industry for over 20 years, Thrasher of Greater Omaha has come across every leaky basement scenario. We have found that most basement leaks stem from the following:

Basement Walls and Floor Joints

The most common way that a basement experiences groundwater leaking is through the basement wall/floor joint, which is where the foundation walls and the basement floor meet. Water pressure can most easily force its way through at this point, where it leaks into the basement through the edges of the floor.

There will always be more water around your home than anywhere else. When your home was built, a large area was excavated so the foundation could be placed. After the foundation is built, any excess are is filled in with backfilled soil. This soil will always be looser- and much more absorbent of water- than any soil around it.

The best way to address this problem is with an interior perimeter drainage system and a sump pump with a battery backup. This intercepts the water where it enters, directs it to the sump pump, and gets it out of the basement.

Basement Cracks and Pipe Penetration

Cracks in basement walls and floors are very common, and in some cases, these cracks leak. And when pipes, wires, and other objects extend through the walls, they can also allow water in through the gaps around their edges.

These cracks and penetrations can be filled in as a short-term fix by applying one of three methods:

  • Apply a polyurethane polymer seal into the gap, which can be applied to both wet and dry concrete and, once dried, can expand and contract with the walls. This method is a short-term solution.
  • With some pipe penetrations, the contractor may instead drill two holes to the cavity of the pipe penetration. Then water is injected into the crack, followed by a special chemical that reacts with the water, expanding and filling the leaky hole.
  • With leaking basement floor cracks, a lateral line can be run from the crack to the drainage system, guiding any leaking water directly to your perimeter drain and sump pump.

Just covering up a basement wall crack is not addressing the main problem. Basement wall cracks result from unstable foundations. For a long-term solution, have wall anchors installed which consists of an interior wall plate, an exterior earth anchor and a connecting steel rod to stabilize foundation walls by counteracting pressure exerted against the wall.

Basement Windows

Basement windows, as well as crawl space or basement vents, can also leak a significant amount of water into the basement. This happens most often when the window frames rot, rust, or corrode, and also when the window wells fill with water, snow, and debris.

Replacing the window wells with plastic, covered window wells should help keep water and debris away from the windows, and by blocking winter wind, they'll even make your home more energy efficient.

Replace old windows with vinyl, energy efficient windows, and your home will appreciate further energy benefits, with windows that will not corrode in the future. Steel, wood, and metal are inappropriate materials for basement window frames.

Find basement windows that use double-paned low-E glass. These windows will reflect heat and the summer and pull heat into the space in the winter, allowing for the brightest, most temperate basement.

Home Plumbing Leaks

Even when groundwater is not an issue, there' an awful lot of possible ways to have leaky plumbing. Between your sinks, tubs, toilets, showers, pipes, refrigerator lines, and other plumbing, your basement can be exposed to serious flooding. And when a washing machine or water heater fails, the results can be disastrous!

Protect your home from water heater flooding with the FloodRing, provided by Thrasher. This will hold back any flooding water, while a special alarm sounds off to let you know a flood has occurred. They also offer FloodChek washing machine hoses, which include a 25-year warranty against failure. That's much longer than most washing machines last!

Other plumbing issues can't all be stopped entirely- there's just too many sources to cover them all. And if there's a flood upstairs, the water will most often end up in the basement. So if you're planning on finishing the basement, be sure to use inorganic materials that will not be ruined by a flood. This way, an entire floor of your living space isn't ruined should there be an issue.

Thrasher provides basement waterproofing services throughout Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Western Missouri. If you're interested in learning more about preventing a wet basement, contact us today for additional information or a free written estimate.