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Water in Your Basement? 6 Reasons Why Seepage Happens

In a previous blog, we offered tips to prevent flooding in your home. However, even if you follow these tips and take great efforts to safeguard your basement from flooding, water can still seep into your basement.

But how?

Below, we’ve listed six reasons why seepage still happens in your basement.

  1. The Clay Bowl Effect

Before contractors could start building your home, they had to dig a large hole in the ground to pour the foundation and build the house up from that structure. However, these workers probably dug a hole larger than the size of your foundation. This additional space allowed the workers to bring equipment into the hole so they could move around properly as they poured and built the foundation.

Once your foundation was constructed, the construction team then filled in the extra space with some of the soil they had originally dug up. They compacted it to make it as sturdy as possible. Even if they used the best equipment, though, they couldn’t compact the dirt to match the compactness of the untouched, surrounding soil.

Because there are still gaps in this excavated and re-compacted soil, water can easily collect in the air pockets and grooves. This phenomenon is known as the Clay Bowl Effect.

The water that accumulates in this soil comes from surface water runoff, direct rainfall, and groundwater. As the water levels in the soil increase, hydrostatic pressure is exerted on the foundation walls (which we’ll talk more about in the next section).

But because of the Clay Bowl Effect and this increase in pressure, water can seep into your basement once cracks or small holes form in your foundation.

  1. The Cove Joint’s Ability to Manage Hydrostatic Pressure

As mentioned above, hydrostatic pressure increases between wet soil and your foundation walls. The cove joint, which is where the walls and floor of your foundation meet, should have a high ability to withstand hydrostatic pressure.

If the hydrostatic pressure rises too much, however, the joint can’t handle it and water will seep through the space.

Additionally, some homeowners may have been told to have the cove joint sealed to keep water out of their basements. This really doesn’t work the cove joint is an open joint running around the entire perimeter of the basement and can’t be sealed like foundation wall cracks. Seepage coming thru the cove joint requires Drain Tile to fix the issue.

  1. The Drain Pipe’s Flow

When your foundation was built, the contractors may have installed a drain pipe on the outside of the wall. The drain pipe’s purpose is to take water that collects around it and move it away from your foundation. This pipe was probably laid in a pile of gravel to prevent dirt and debris from getting inside it. Your contractors may have even placed filter fabric around the pipe as an additional protection.

As water continues to accumulate in the soil, however, the soil becomes too saturated and turns into mud. That muddy water can then bring dirt, debris, and other particles into the drain pipe. Over time, those particles build up until the drain pipe clogs and water can’t flow through it effectively. If the water can’t drain away properly, it will remain next to your foundation until it seeps through the walls, cove joint, or even up through your basement floor and into your basement.

  1. The Footing Materials

A footing was built before contractors could even start building or pouring your foundation. The footing, which is larger than the foundation, spreads the weight of your foundation across a large area. Additionally, the footing prevents the foundation from coming into direct contact with the earth beneath it.

If the footing was made from poured concrete, the structure should be fairly watertight-especially if the contractors reinforced the footer with steel beams or poles. Some contractors, however, forgo a solid footer and instead spread gravel across a space to act as the footing.

The gravel can more easily sink into the soil, causing the foundation to shift which could cause structural cracks to form, leading to more possible seepage issues.

  1. The Soil’s Pitch

Your property’s landscaping also factors into the amount of water that seeps into your basement. If the soil that surrounds your home isn’t pitched away from your home, water can more easily enter your basement.

The soil should be pitched away from your home and have a slope of about a quarter inch per foot to properly prevent seepage.

  1. The Window Wells’ Condition

Additionally, if your home has any underground windows that are surrounded by window wells, the wells’ condition greatly affects how seepage gets into your home. Rain water can easily collect inside the window well from the open space above. But more water from within the soil can seep into the window wells if they are cracked, have holes, or weren’t properly installed.

Then, that water can leak through the window sills and surrounding wall if these structures are damaged or cracked.

Who Should You Call?

If you experience water seepage, contact Safeguard Waterproofing immediately. We’ll send one of our certified technicians to your home and assess your property to determine how water seeped into your basement and recommend an effective solution (sump pump, yard drainage, etc.) to minimize water damage now and in the future.

Make an appointment with one of our team members for further assistance with basement seepage.

Learn more about leaking basement repair