Looking for accurate cost information related to water in the basement?
Perfect, you’re in the right spot. In this guide, you’ll learn:
- Urgent steps to take if you have water in your basement
- How to identify underlying problems causing basement water
- How to prevent basement flooding
- How to save money fixing water in the basement
Most homeowners who have a crawlspace or basement will have problems with water seepage at some point. Your foundation walls are always fighting water pressure from the soil around it, especially during heavy rainfall or floods.
Unfortunately, many people panic and aren’t sure what steps to take when water does find its way in. Even worse, they’re not always clear on how to identify and solve the underlying problem once the excess water is removed.
Below, I’m going to discuss some things you should do immediately upon finding water in your basement and how to figure out and permanently fix your problems with basement water. Most importantly, I’ll go over how to save money on the repairs.
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What Should You Do Immediately If There Is Water In Your Basement?
Finding water pouring or even trickling into your basement can be a traumatic experience, and one to which most homeowners don’t know how to react. Below, I’ll go over the most important things you need to do to mitigate the damage if you find water in your basement.
Above all else, keep yourself and your family safe. Belongings, foundations, and even entire homes can be replaced, but lives cannot. Your first order of business is to keep everyone clear of danger.
If you have flooding in your basement, no matter the source of the water, don’t wade through it for any reason. Your home has electrical wires running through it, and they can electrify the water if they come in contact with it. Let a professional who has proper protective equipment deal with the water.
Figure Out Where The Water Is Coming From
While maintaining your safety, try to figure out where the source of the basement leak is. Significant leaking commonly occurs due to burst water pipes, leaking plumbing lines, or flooding from heavy rainfall. Slow leaks could be from increased hydrostatic pressure or runoff during or follow a storm.
The source of the leak is usually most easily determined while the leaking is happening. The underlying problem will be easier to fix later if you can find it early.
Pump Out Standing Water
If there are many gallons of water in your basement, your next order of business should be to pump it out. I recommend hiring a professional plumber or electrician to do this for safety reasons. If you are doing it yourself, always use a gasoline-powered pump and never an electric pump. Any form of electricity near or around the water could cause severe injury or even death. Remember: if in doubt, hire a professional.
Remove Items That May Attract Mold
Once the water is removed from under your home, your next step is to take out any personal belongings that could lead to basement mold. Soft furniture like couches or chairs, blankets, pillows, mattresses, clothes, or anything else that could retain moisture should be removed. Additionally, you may need to cut out any drywall that got wet during flooding.
Where Is The Water Coming From?
If you were able to determine the point of water intrusion while the water was actively leaking, or if you can identify damage in your concrete slab or basement walls where the leaking may be taking place, you can figure out the underlying cause of the water intrusion.
Below, I’ll discuss the different common causes of a flooded basement, as well as the most likely reason for each.
If Water Is Coming Up From The Ground
If you have an unfinished basement, you may notice that water seeps up through gaps in your concrete slab, even if they’re hairline cracks. It may even soak directly through the porous concrete. This kind of seepage is typically slow, but it may be massive if you’re in a flood zone.
The most likely cause of water coming through your concrete slab foundation is excess groundwater. Problems with groundwater are common in areas with a high water table, especially after rain falls, snow melts, or there is coastal flooding.
If Water Is Near Your Exterior Foundation Wall Or Stains On Foundation Wall
Water coming through the concrete block wall is much more common than through your slab, and it usually occurs through cracks in your walls. Water seepage through your basement walls can leave salt or mineral stains, referred to as efflorescence. Even if your walls aren’t actively leaking, this type of leak is often readily identified.
The most common cause of water seeping through your crawlspace or basement walls is increased hydrostatic pressure in the soil around your home. Hydrostatic pressure is excess moisture in your dirt, so it’s most frequently a problem during or after heavy rain. However, it could be caused by an improperly graded yard.
If Water Is Covering All Of Your Basement Floor
You may also notice water covering your entire basement floor, which is a sign of very heavy flooding.
Common causes of an excessive basement flood include plumbing pipes leaking directly into your basement, significant damage to your foundation, or a high water table, creating severe hydrostatic pressure around your concrete slab and walls.
How Can You Prevent Water From Coming Into Your Basement?
The steps I detailed above are essential for when water finds its way into your crawlspace or basement, but one of the most important things to do is solve the underlying issue to prevent future water damage and additional repairs. Pumping water out of your basement is a reactive solution, and below I’ll discuss preventative measures designed to fix the water seepage issue permanently.
Add Gutter Extensions
A common cause of increased hydrostatic pressure and consequential leaking is improper management of water with gutters and downspouts. For a fully effective gutter system, all rainwater collected should be rerouted 6 feet away from basements or 2 feet away from crawlspaces. Gutter extensions will help move potentially damaging water far enough from your concrete walls so as not to be a problem.
Since water often enters your basement or crawlspace through cracks in your foundation, you should plug all gaps with an epoxy or polyurethane caulk. The application can be made with a caulk gun, or you could apply hydraulic cement using a putty knife or trowel.
Restore The Crown
Another significant cause of water seepage is improperly graded soil. Runoff and rainwater naturally flow with the ground’s slope, so grading the dirt away from your foundation wall will help with drainage issues. Ensure a pitch of ½” for every foot for at least 10 feet starting at the base of your concrete foundation.
Reshape Your Landscape
In addition to grading your soil near your foundation, you can implement landscaping features like berms or swales to help direct water away from your home. These two yard formations are long ditches that further pull runoff away from your foundation and help reduce the buildup of hydrostatic pressure near your home.
Repair Footing Drains
If you think the cause of your wet basement or crawlspace is groundwater or high water table, repairing your footing drains is a good solution. Footing drains are underground pipes that run along the length of your foundation and collect water from the soil around your home. They direct the collected water to an area of your yard that won’t suffer from excess moisture.
If you have a groundwater problem causing leaking, repairing your footing drains and ensuring your drain pipe is positioned correctly might permanently fix your issue. Additionally, removing any clogs can help ensure proper drainage.
Install A Curtain Drain
If you have ongoing water intrusion, I recommend installing a curtain drain, also called a drain tile. This floor drain system is one that gets placed in the slab around the inside perimeter of your crawlspace or basement walls. It collects any water that comes through your concrete block walls and directs it toward a sump pump for disposal to a safe area. It’s often a very effective solution for ongoing water issues in your basement.
Pump The Water
A permanent solution for those in flood zones or areas with a high water table is to install a sump pump in the crawlspace or basement floor. Your slab will have to be sloped toward where the sump pump is installed so that any water getting in will be directed toward the drainage system. A properly functioning sump pump will often solve wet basement problems and will eliminate the need for you to pump your basement manually.
Waterproof The Walls
Lastly, basement waterproofing can act as a permanent solution to your water seepage problem. Waterproof paint or polyurethane sealant can act as a vapor barrier and help stop water and moisture from making their way into your crawlspace or basement.
How To Save Money Fixing Water In The Basement?
Water intrusion can be a very costly home improvement project, so many homeowners look for ways to save money during the process. There are some cost-saving things you can do when fixing your basement water problems.
Firstly, fixing the underlying problem instead of merely treating the water intrusion will very likely save you quite a bit in the long run. Proper, permanent solutions may be expensive upfront, but temporary solutions or reactive fixes will almost always require more permanent, preventative measures later. Choose a permanent, adequate solution to save money and give yourself some peace of mind.
Secondly, while many of the solutions I’ve discussed above require a foundation contractor or waterproofing specialist, others can be DIY projects for handy homeowners. Applying waterproof paint or sealant, for example, can be done yourself. Doing so will save you a significant amount of money on labor costs. You can even install a shallow French drain around your foundation if runoff is determined to be the source of your water intrusion.
Check out the video below on how to apply waterproof paint:
Reactive solutions like installing a dehumidifier can help, and some of the more proactive measures for redirecting runoff and rainwater can be done as DIY projects to save on the cost of labor as well. Installing gutter extensions, restoring the crown, and reshaping your landscaping with swales or berms can all be done for a very low cost instead of hiring a professional contractor or landscaper.