Water in Basement

Problem: Groundwater or rain water seeps or floods into basement.

Background: Water problems in cellars or basements is a common problem which may have a single cause or a number of causes. For example, the home may have settled over the years, the grading around the home may not have been done properly, or the exterior of the basement walls below the grade may not have been properly waterproofed before back- filling. In certain cases, the basement may be only inches above the groundwater level, may be positioned in the path of normal under ground runoff, or may be sunk into heavy clay which interferes with normal drainage. Much-improved drain-tile systems (underground drain systems around the perimeter of the house, often connected to a sump pump) and a waterproof membrane are installed in newer homes before the basement slab is poured.

What to do: Basement moisture problems occur in the form of condensation, seepage, or leakage. Of these, the seepage of small or moderate amounts of water often can be easily corrected at a low cost. The causes can include soil becoming saturated around the home because of roof runoff; grading, which slopes toward the home; rainwater collecting in window wells; or excessive watering along the foundation wall. Make some observations, especially during rain storms. If the grade around the home (including planting beds) slopes toward the home, correct it so it slopes away from the walls. If window wells have sunk, build them up and fill the cracks or crevices around them. Correct leaking or improperly sloped roof gutters; if your roof does not have gutters, consider installing them. If needed, install downspout leaders, splash blocks, or both, so roof water discharges at least 3 feet away from the foundation. Check adjacent areas, such as driveways, walks, and patios to make sure they drain away from the home.

Special advice: If seepage occurs under little or no pressure, applying 2 coats of a waterproofing paint or compound may help. If a test area is successful after several weeks, cover the entire problem area. If water is seeping through holes or cracks ½ inch or larger, clean them out and patch them with hydraulic cement, which sets fast and expands when wet. (Prepare larger cracks or holes using a dovetail groove, which is wider toward the back of the opening than the front.) If seepage is under pressure, a solution is used to install a weep pipe near the floor- wall joint where the pressure is greatest, using a masonry drill or a star chisel (use striking hammer and proper safety gear). If water continues to discharge through the pipe, leave it in and direct the discharge to a drain or a sump pump with a hose.

Helpful hint: In cases where seep age under pressure occurs at the wall-floor joint, 3 options exist. For light seepage, try sealing the joint with 2 coats of a waterproofing com pound. For moderate seepage, chisel out a 2-inch wide, 1-inch thick dove tail groove. Clean out and use a mix of hydraulic or mortar cement to build an inverted cove-shaped patch. When heavy seepage develops, a solution may be to install several weep pipes which discharge excess moisture through hoses, concrete troughs, or commercial de vices, to a sump pump or drain. If large amounts of water regularly enter the basement, major corrective action may be necessary. Contact a reputable contractor for advice.




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