Why do I have a leaky basement?
For those worried about their leaky basement and no knowing what is happening, or where the incessant flow of water is coming from, let it be clear, that there are only three different sources.
Leaking basements can be categorized into three categories: surface water, ground water, and others. Surface water is that which comes from the surface, such as rain runoff, melted snow, lot drainage, gutters that droop improperly… etc.
Groundwater comes from underground and usually has a basic source such as a higher water table, an underground river, or spring.
Different from the first two categories of external water sources, other water sources could be internal as well, in the case of leaking internal water pipes, internal sewer… etc.
When water comes flowing up from the bottom of the floor, or directly from the walls, most people don’t understand why, or how. But what is usually happening can be determined from careful observations. If the basement seems to leak, only after a heavy rain or snow, then the cause is probably surface water.
Normally, this is because the water runs in the direction of the house’s foundation, and the water makes a puddle at the foundation until it seeps down into the ground. Finally upon reaching the end of the foundation, this causes hydrostatic pressure to build itself up until it causes the water to break through the lime and calcium deposits in the cinder block foundation stones.
When a basement is leaking all the time, and neither rain nor snowfall seem to have any other effect than to worsen the already vile problem; the chances of groundwater being the source of external leakage, is considerably high, and works in the same way as surface water infiltration, however, the hydrostatic pressure is built up from below rather than above the foundation.
This kind of leaky basement is far worse than surface water sources, as it is a constant source, and can’t be fixed by eliminating the source of the water, without redirecting the underground river.
The biggest complication with ground water infiltration is that water will hit against solid rock constantly, never stopping until finally making shaping it to its will. That is the deepest and darkest secret that must be dealt with when waterproofing any basement wall, the constant exposure to water pressure.
External water sources are not the only causes of leaky basements. In many cases, such as when a pipe line breaks out on the street and the water falls downhill both underground or above against the foundation, this too will cause hydrostatic pressure to build up and the problem repeats itself.
Of course, hydrostatic pressure is not the only cause of a leaking basement; broken pipes inside the house or basement can also do damage to basements and sometimes easily be mistaken for other types of leaks. Sometimes the leak is actually inside the wall, or under the basement floor such as in the case of a backed up sewer pipe or broken sewer pipe.
If a sewer line breaks outside the house, this can be an even worse problem not only for the basement but the rest of the community, nearby trees and plants that all drink from the contaminated soil. In any case that the water source is artificial, then the leaky basement can be easily fixed by just repairing the problem, given that the problem can be found easily enough.
Whether the problem is a leaky basement subject to surface water, groundwater or other water infiltrations, the solution is to identify the origin of the water so as to know exactly where to start.
A leaky basement caused by surface water means dealing with an ongoing problem from the surface and can usually be solved by backfilling the foundation wall with earth so the runoff goes away from the house.
When groundwater is the cause of leaks, then the basement may need to be unearthed and given external attentions. In the last case of artificial sources such as leaky pipes, then fixing the main source of the problem can do the tick. But all in all some or all of these problems may be causing a leaky basement, but knowing is already half the battle.