Stopping Basement Leaks

Learn how to deal with water coming into your basement.


Your home improvement questions, answered by professionals from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), an association of remodeling professionals committed to providing consumers with high standards of quality, honesty, integrity, and responsibility.

Question:

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How do I stop water from coming into my basement? I live in an old home and water is starting to come up in the seams of the concrete floor in the basement. I would like to know what I can use to stop this from happening.

Answer:

That depends on where the water is coming from. Water is a powerful force. If it's the water table rising up, it might not be solvable. So the first thing to do is to find out where the water is coming from.

If this is a new problem and only happens during rainstorms, then it's surface water and might be coming off your roof. If this is the case you just need to divert the water away from your foundation. This can be done by extending the downspouts into either underground pipes that lead away from the house or by getting simple plastic extensions that are moveable for cutting the grass. You should also check to make sure that your gutters are clean and installed and pitched correctly. You might want to consider a gutter protection system such as Leaf Relief if you get a lot of leaves.

Check to make sure your foundation is not cracked. If you have a small surface crack you can probably patch it yourself with some hydraulic cement (available at any hardware store or box store).

If it's a water table problem, you might need to have a sump pump or French drain installed. This will entail digging a pit below the floor surface and recessing a barrel down to house the pump, then running a pipe from the pump out of the foundation and away from the house. If you are a DIY person, you could probably handle this -- or many professional plumbing or basement-waterproofing companies (such as Basement Technologies) offer this service. It's a good idea to get a battery backup for the pump, as well.

If your basement leaks only during heavy rains, this can lead to basement flooding and the proliferation of mold and mildew. This not only compromises your house's structural integrity; it also is a health hazard to you and your family.

Answered by: Allison Guido, Certified Remodeler, National Association of the Remodeling Industry

About Allison:

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Allison Guido works for Almar in Hanover, Massachusetts, which is south of Boston. Her grandfather started the company in 1959, and her dad ran it full-time until Guido came on board seven years ago. Almar is a full-service remodeler whose employees love a challenge and projects that other people aren't interested in taking on.

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