How To Prevent Basement Water Damage

It can be quite disconcerting to a homeowner to find water in the basement. If you determine that this water is coming into your home from outside — rather than from a plumbing leak, for example — you’ll need to explore ways to prevent this seepage in the future and keep your basement dry. Once you know of a water problem in your basement you’ll have to disclose this trouble when you’re ready to sell in the future, so do yourself a favor and fix the problem, correctly, as soon as possible. Here are some steps to take to address water leaking into your basement.

Adjust Your Downspouts

Even on a small home, the roof collects a significant amount of water every time it rains. Some estimates say that an inch of rain is equivalent to approximately 550 gallons of rainwater on a 1000 square foot roof. This water has to go somewhere, and you don’t want that to be anywhere near your home’s foundation. The gutter system around the edges of your roof directs all the collected rainwater into your downspouts. It’s important that your downspouts are kept in good condition, and that they’re long enough to deposit water far from your home.


Gutters and downspouts can also become clogged with leaves and other debris, particularly in autumn, which will necessitate seasonal cleaning. Snow and ice can also pose problems in the wintertime, causing problems during freeze and thaw cycles. If you’re not sure how well your downspouts are designed, or if you suspect they’re causing you water problems, bring in an expert to perform some necessary downspout maintenance as soon as possible. Hiring a professional to clean out your gutters and downspouts is a great option, especially if your home has two or more stories. You may find that cleaning your downspouts and correcting their placement fixes the majority of your basement wetness issues.

Determine the Water Source

Once you’ve adjusted your downspouts as needed, keep an eye on your basement. If that wasn’t sufficient to completely solve your basement water problem, you’ll need to determine where else water is infiltrating your basement. Water may seep into your basement through cracks and seams in your concrete or cinderblock walls. It’s also possible that water is getting in around window wells and plumbing access points that are not completely sealed. Repairing any imperfect seals is a great next step in your basement waterproofing project. You might also use hydraulic cement to patch cracks in your basement walls. 

Keeping water away from your basement walls on the outside of your house is a good way to reduce in-leakage as well. Moving your downspouts was one part of that solution, but it’s also important to grade your landscaping away from your home. Whether you have a lawn, garden plants, or hardscape up against your foundation, everything should be sloped downward away from the house to help water run off into the soil in your yard rather than pooling near your foundation.

In extreme leakage cases, foundation contractors can install an exterior drain tile system around the perimeter of the basement walls. This is an expensive project, as it involves deep excavation all the way around your house to allow for the installation of a perforated drain pipe at the basement footing level, which is below the floor of the basement.

Consider Interior Drainage Solutions

Companies that specialize in basement waterproofing systems can install drain tile systems inside the basement, which is considerably less expensive than excavating around the basement exterior. These systems are designed to capture water that comes into the basement at the joint between the walls and the floor. If you have cinderblock walls, they will also collect the water that gets caught in the hollow portions of the block and move it out of the house before it can leak through the walls into the basement. 

Installing an indoor tiling system involves breaking away the concrete around the entire interior perimeter of the basement. Perforated pipe is placed in these newly create trenches, which are then backfilled with gravel. New concrete is poured to cover the entire system and make the floor complete again. Access pipes are located periodically throughout the system to allow easy cleaning in case the drain pipes get clogged. All of these new pipes direct water to a floor tank, which is then purged periodically by a sump pump.

With a system like this, be sure to use a marine grade backup battery on your sump pump in case of power failures. Rainstorms are a frequent cause of power outages, and you want to be sure that your drainage system continues to work when a heavy storm hits. A sump pump alarm is another good failsafe tool. If the water level in your floor tank becomes too high, indicating your pump did not empty the system when it should have, you’re alerted before the problem becomes too large. It could be a failed electrical connection or a problem with the pump’s float. Whatever it is, this alarm gives you the chance to fix the problem and get the system working again quickly.

Finding water in your basement can make your heart sink, but knowing what to do to fix the problem will help you get things under control with as little pain as possible. Start with the easy, inexpensive fixes, and add solutions from there as needed to make your basement as dry as possible.

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