Unless you live in the deep woods or a bunker somewhere you probably have a few neighbors. If you live in Valparaiso with its population of nearly 32,000 you surely have some and, like neighbors everywhere, they undoubtedly have some impact on your life, family and home.
One of the questions often asked by homeowners who are experiencing their first basement seepage is whether the problem could be caused by a neighbor’s home. Maybe the neighbor next door has just put in a new driveway or built a deck or put on an addition; maybe their house sits on a higher grade; or, maybe the only reason for the question is that the house is just there.
Many factors can cause a wet basement in Valparaiso but very rarely does an adjoining home have anything to do with it.
One of the basic truths about wet basements is that they are generally caused by water in the ground, not water on the ground. Of course, water on the surface can penetrate the soil and become ground water but this usually happens because of insufficient attention to the "zone of failure" on the exterior of a home, not due to neighboring homes.
One of the factors that influences basement seepage is the water table, described as the highest level that ground water reaches in the surrounding soil. In Valparaiso, as in the rest of northwest Indiana, the water table is relatively high because of the area’s proximity to Lake Michigan. A higher water table causes more of the soil to expand and increases both hydrostatic and lateral pressure on the foundation, which can result in cove seepage and seepage through wall cracks, respectively.
Another reason you may have trouble with a wet basement in Valpo is that there is a good chance that your foundation is constructed of concrete blocks, quite common in northwest Indiana. Concrete block makes a perfectly good foundation but it is vulnerable to seepage in two ways that a poured concrete foundation is not. First, the mortar joints between the blocks are a weak point and water can seep in if they are cracked or deteriorated. Second, the blocks themselves are porous and water can actually penetrate through them into your basement.
A sump pump with inadequate capacity is also a common problem in the area. The high water table noted earlier can mean that more water enters a drain tile system and must be pumped out by the sump pump. Additionally, although not as common in Valparaiso as in other parts of northwest Indiana, sandy soil around the foundation causes rain or snow melt to drain through the soil quickly. In either case, the volume of water will often overwhelm a sump pump without the capacity to handle it.
The only time an adjoining home could cause basement seepage is if the property surrounding it is graded in such a way that it creates a negative slope toward your foundation. This is unlikely and, in fact, impossible if your property is graded correctly and slopes away from the house. Water runoff from paved surfaces or your neighbor’s roof will have no effect as long as your yard is properly drained.
So, if the neighbor’s house isn’t the problem, how do you figure out the source of your wet basement? It’s best left to a basement waterproofing company that knows the area and its common problems, is experienced at finding sources of seepage and in permanently repairing them. At U.S. Waterproofing, we’ve helped your neighbors all over northwest Indiana, and many right there in Valparaiso to keep their basements dry and their homes healthy, so why not ask for our free advice?
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