How to Prevent Water Damage in Your Home’s Basement

A wet basement can be a homeowner’s nightmare, causing unpleasant odors, structural damage, and mold growth. To protect your basement from water damage, it’s crucial to take preventative measures. By following these eight strategies, you can effectively keep water out of your home’s basement and maintain its integrity.

Add Gutter Extensions

To prevent water from seeping into your basement, start by examining your gutters. Ensure that downspouts are not dumping water too close to your house. If they are, consider installing plastic or metal gutter extensions to redirect water away from the foundation. This simple step can help mitigate basement water issues caused by improper gutter drainage.

Plug Gaps

Inspect your basement for cracks or gaps where water might be entering. If you find any, promptly seal them using hydraulic cement or polyurethane caulk. These affordable and easy-to-use materials can effectively plug small openings that allow water to seep into your basement.

Restore the Crown

To address surface water drainage problems, check the slope of the soil surrounding your foundation. Ideally, your house should sit on a crown—a raised area of soil that slopes away from the foundation. Over time, the soil may settle, affecting proper drainage. Using a shovel and dirt, regrade the soil to recreate the appropriate slope, diverting water away from your basement walls.

Reshape the Landscape

While restoring the crown is important, it’s equally crucial to maintain a safe distance between the soil and your home’s siding. Avoid creating a situation where soil buildup comes into contact with the siding, potentially leading to rot or termite infestations. Consider implementing landscape features like berms or swales to redirect water away from your house while maintaining a safe distance.

Repair Footing Drains

If you experience water leaking into your basement at the lower sections of walls or at wall-floor joints, it may be due to hydrostatic pressure from the ground. Check if your basement has footing drains installed during construction to carry water away from the foundation.

If these drains are clogged, try flushing them with a garden hose through the cleanout. If the issue persists, consult a professional plumber with auguring capabilities.

Install a Curtain Drain

For homes without functioning footing drains, installing a curtain drain can effectively divert underground water away from your basement. A curtain drain consists of a shallow trench filled with gravel and perforated piping. This drainage system intercepts water uphill from your home, redirecting it safely downhill and preventing basement water infiltration. Consider using solid pipes in areas with trees or shrubs to minimize the risk of root intrusion.

Pump the Water

In cases where subsurface water cannot be kept out, an interior drain system can be installed to channel water from the inside. This involves sawing a channel around the basement floor’s perimeter, removing concrete, and placing perforated pipe in the trench. The pipe carries water to a collection tank located at the basement’s lowest point, where a sump pump discharges it outside the house. This solution is especially suitable for unfinished basements with easy access.

Waterproof the Walls

While an interior drainage system effectively removes water from the basement, it doesn’t waterproof the walls. If your foundation has numerous gaps or you want to protect your finished basement area, exterior waterproofing is necessary. This involves excavating around the house to expose the foundation and applying waterproofing materials. Additionally, a French drain can be installed to alleviate hydrostatic pressure. Although this solution requires a significant investment and may disrupt your yard, it provides comprehensive protection for your basement and prevents water intrusion.

It’s important to note that a little water in the basement is not normal or acceptable. Even small amounts of water can lead to significant damage and mold growth if left unaddressed. Water intrusion should be taken seriously and addressed promptly to prevent further issues.

Always Call For Help If Necessary

If you’re experiencing water leaking into your basement after heavy rain or are unsure where the water is coming from, it’s recommended to seek professional help. Contacting a basement waterproofing specialist or a qualified plumber can help you identify the source of the problem and determine the most effective solutions.

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