Basement Water Problems
When it rains, ground water levels increase. However, there are some measures that can be taken by homeowners to reduce the seepage effects of ground water in your basement.
Proper drainage away from dwelling:
Make sure that the ground beside your house slopes away from the foundation. In many cases, the yard will have initially been landscaped and slope away from the building; however, slopes can change because the foundation excavation area tends to settle over time, resulting in surface runoff flowing toward the basement walls instead of away. The water can run down the side of the basement wall finding small cracks and appear inside the basement. Many homeowners can improve their surface drainage conditions on their own.
Install rain gutters and extend roof downspouts away from your house:
The absence of rain gutters and/or the presence of downspouts that drain within two to three feet of the foundation wall can create excessive water seepage through foundation cracks. Consider installing rain gutters, if you do not already have them, by discussing this with a contractor who provides this service. Check your downspouts and extend them to at least four feet away from basement walls and ensure roof water continues to drain away from the house. Extending a downspout can easily be accomplished by purchasing extension sections from a hardware store and installing it yourself.
Reduce lawn watering:
During prolonged periods of rainfall, it is not necessary to water your lawn. This will reduce the amount of moisture available to recharge the ground water. Water table levels are significantly impacted by lawn watering, so reducing or eliminating this source of ground water will help limit the amount of water which enters a basement. In some cases, sprinklers are set on timers for night-time watering and it becomes easy to forget that they continue to operate despite the rain. Reduction or elimination of lawn watering will also help lower your utility bill.
Sealing foundation cracks can be especially difficult if the location of the crack is uncertain. Hand digging along the foundation wall is possible if a flowerbed allows this to occur without excessive disruption of landscaping. Foundation tar, with thick plastic sheeting, may help to seal the area. You may wish to apply a second layer of tar and plastic for added assurance that the site has been waterproofed. The earth should be well compacted as it is replaced. Crack sealing usually requires the assistance of a contractor skilled in this work.
Weeping tile can be effectively retrofitted to your house if the area where water enters the basement is close to your sewer service (which is usually at the front of the house). In this case, excavation along the exterior foundation wall will also be necessary with weeping tile being placed against the footings and tied into the sewer service. This may not be a practical alternative if the leaking area is far away from the sewer service or if it is separated from the sewer service by an obstruction, such as a driveway. Some contractors have devised methods to accomplish this from the inside of the house. The installation of exterior and interior weeping tile systems is specialized work that requires the assistance of specialist contractors.
A sump pump consists of a small well (approximately one – two cubic feet in volume) in the floor of the basement with a submersible pump placed in the well. This pump will activate when water builds up in the well and then will remove the water by pumping it into a convenient drain – usually the basement floor drain. The pump and well can often be placed in an inconspicuous location so that it does not detract from the overall appearance of the living area. Some skilled homeowners may be able to undertake this type of project on their own.