What Can Cause a Basement to Flood?

Dry Tech Waterproofing Solutions is a team of professionals with over 25 years of experience in solving the most complex issues, from water in the basement to waterproofing installation.

In our experience as basement waterproofing professionals, detecting the cause of water in the basement is a tricky issue. There are many potential causes, starting from the moment when the building was erected. Inadequate backfilling or poor grading of the landscape may cause water coming up through the basement floor after heavy rain.

As a matter of fact, water in the basement after rain is the first sign that makes homeowners call us to solve the issue. And the first step is to identify the root cause. Even if you have water in the basement during new construction works, your builders may not be at fault. Apart from poor planning and workmanship, there are several causes for water leaks into the basement:

  • Condensation – also known as wall sweating, it occurs in the form of water droplets on the walls when humid and warm air hits the cold walls and water pipes
  • Runoff – usually caused by poor grading allowing rainwater to seep in the direction of the building, instead of away from it
  • Faulty downspouts – when downspouts discharge water too close to the foundation of the house, it will pool around the basement
  • Window well leakage – installed to let in natural light, the window well can also let water in the basement if it is not properly insulated
  • Leakage of surface water or groundwater – the leakage can be caused by cracks in the foundation or loose joints between the walls.

How Do I Fix the Problem of Water in My Basement?

The first thing that you must remember is NOT to go inside immediately after you notice water in the basement. The electric wiring system of your house runs through the basement and you know that water and electricity are a terrible combination.

Here is what you must do instead:

Action Who Will Perform It
Turning off the electricity and gas The utility company or licensed contractor
Removing furniture, appliances, and valuables Homeowner
Soaking up water in the basement Homeowner
Calling the insurance company Homeowner
Fixing the root cause of water in the basement Waterproofing specialists

Depending on the issue they identify for water in the foundation, the waterproofing contractors will recommend one of the following solutions:

1. Adding Gutter Extension

In some cases, the gutters discharge rainwater too close to the building, causing it to pool into the basement. Adding a foot of a gutter extension will solve the problem.

2. Sump Pump Installation

If the water table in the area is too high, the best solution is to opt for sump pump installation. This will put an end to the problem with water in the basement after rain or for no apparent reason.

3. Correcting Landscape Grading

This solution will also involve hiring a building company to fix the grading of the landscape around the building. However, the first step is to bring in waterproofing professionals for yard drainage.

4. Waterproofing the Walls

In order to make sure that you will no longer find groundwater in the basement, install advanced waterproofing in it. This is even more important if you have converted the basement into a living space, with furniture, carpets, and home electronics.

5. Clean the Footing Drains

Some buildings have footing drains. These are underground pipes that the builders installed when they started erecting your house. The role of the footing drains is to divert away water around the foundation of the house. If the pipes are clogged, they are no longer doing their job and you have to call a plumber to clean them. 

6. Restore the Crown of the Building

If all the other causes of water in the basement (faulty gutters or cracks in the walls) are ruled out, it is possible that the crown of the building needs to be restored. This crown is a mound of soil on which your building sits. It must slope at least 6 inches for 10 feet in all directions. However, due to land subsidence, the crown will diminish in size and slope. You can restore it yourself with supplies from a home improvement store or call a contractor.

Basement waterproofing Water in the Basement

Who Do You Call When You Find Water in the Basement?

When you experience basement leaks in heavy rain, it is quite understandable to be uncertain whom to call first. As we showed in the table above, your first priority is to interrupt the supply with electricity and gas at your home. In this way, you will remove the danger for your family and the contractors you call to solve the problem of rainwater in the basement.

Once the basement is safe to walk into, the team of specialists in waterproofing will arrive promptly to identify the cause of water on the basement floor and recommend a solution or start fixing it. In some cases, you may need foundation repair or other major renovation works. The basement waterproofing specialists will give you a detailed estimate for the necessary repairs. 

7 Signs of a Basement Leak

In some cases, you may not be aware that you have water in the basement, especially if it is not arranged as a living space and you do not go in it frequently. However, you will certainly notice some signs that something is not right.

These are some of the typical signs of water in the basement:

1. Mold on the Walls

Mold is extremely dangerous in any building. It aggravates allergies and is one of the causes of asthma. It also compromises the solidity of the walls in the foundation of the building. It’s not enough to hire a company to perform mold removal and repaint the walls. You must solve the issue of water leaking into the basement, as well.

When it comes to removing the mold from the basement walls, please note that this is not a DIY project, especially if you have black mold. Its spores can easily become airborne and cause serious health problems for you and your family.

2. Efflorescence on the Basement Walls

After water in the basement evaporates, it leaves behind the telltale sign of efflorescence. It is a white, chalky substance, consisting of minerals and other solid particles in water. If there is a thick layer of efflorescence on the floor and walls, then you’ve had groundwater and rainwater in the basement for a long time.

You can remove efflorescence with a wire or plastic brush easily, but you must also solve the underlying issue that can compromise the safety and solidity of your building.

3. Musty Smell in the Basement

Everyone probably knows the musty smell of dampness. It is not just unpleasant, it is also the precursor of mold, mildew, and fungi developing inside your basement and then crawling up the walls to the rest of the house.

Once you have solved the root cause of the musty smell – water in the basement – consider installing a dehumidifier to remove both the smell and the remaining excess humidity in the air.

4. The Presence of Pests in the Basement

Pests of various kinds, such as bugs, snails, and rats love dark and damp places. This is the perfect description of the foundation of your home if you have water in the basement. If you have to call an exterminator on a constant basis to solve this issue, consider eliminating the root cause instead. 

5. Damaged Drywall

If you installed drywall into the basement and it looks damaged, the precise nature of the deterioration will tell you whether you have water leaking into the basement. The signs that drywall is damaged by water from the foundation of the house are:

  • It is bowing outwards
  • It is pulling away from the mounting screws
  • It is soft and damp to the touch.

Please remember that it is dangerous trying to salvage drywall after being exposed to water in the basement. Even if the surface outwards is dry, the insulation underneath could be moist and develop mold. Plus, salvaged drywall may be contaminated with fungi, pesticides, and various bacteria.

6. Wet Spots on the Floor

That spot in your basement that needs constant mopping is not a puzzle – it is a sign of water leaking into the basement through a crack. The sooner you call a team of specialists in waterproofing to solve the issue, the better it will be for you and your family.

Otherwise, you will experience the full horror of a flooded basement after a heavy rain, with all the associated losses and expensive repair costs.

7. The Stack Effect

The stack effect refers to the way air circulates through your home. Warm air is lighter than cold air and goes up, escaping through the ventilation gaps in the attic. At the same time, a vacuum forms at the lowest levels (that is, the basement), causing air to be sucked up inside the house. 

But how does the stack effect relate to water in the basement? If you and your family start suffering from various allergies and/or increased asthma attacks, the cause is the humid air from the basement circulating through the entire house. 

Call the Specialists to Solve the Problem of Water in the Basement!

At Dry Tech Waterproofing Solutions, we have over 25 years of experience in basement waterproofing solutions and helping homeowners stop water leaking in the basement. We proudly serve the Tri-State territory of Southern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, including:

  • Philadelphia
  • Pottstown
  • Eagleville
  • Drexel Hill
  • Downington
  • Norristown
  • King of Prussia

Call us: 888-537-9832!


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