Let’s face it. The last thing on most people’s minds when buying a home is to inspect the basement for leaks. Realtors will tell you kitchens and bathrooms are what really sells homes. I am not a real estate speculator, but I will tell you a leaky basement can greatly diminish the value of a house.
Most home shoppers are concerned with the floor plan and big ticket items that need to be inspected, such as the roof, appliances and the mechanicals, like the furnace and water heater. Seldom do home buyers consider basement waterproofing as a key area on their home buying checklist.
Why is that? For starters, there are many first-time home buyers who’ve never had the joy of a basement. Thoughts of foundation seepage and flooding probably never cross their mind. There are also people who have never experienced a seepage problem before. They’re the lucky few! Buying a home is such a major ordeal that looking for signs of previous seepage problems is commonly overlooked.
Here is a Basement Waterproofing Home Buyer’s Checklist - things to look for that may indicate past or potential future basement seepage problems:
1. Check the sump pump - This is probably something that your home inspector will do. If the pit is full of water to the top, the may have failed, which will be of no help during your first big storm.
2. Look for discoloration where the floor meets the wall - Seepage from foundation walls generally winds up on the floor and will leave stains on both the unfinished basement walls and the concrete floor. In finished areas where there is drywall or paneling, be sure to check the baseboards for signs of water.
3. Sniff for musty odors in the basement or crawlspace - This is usually a sign of wetness, which could be from foundation seepage. Moisture can come from a leaking condensate line from the air conditioner or from faulty plumbing, so be aware of these possibilities as well.
4. Keep an eye out for signs of previous waterproofing repairs - Quite often repairs can be made by either the inexperienced (handymen, do-it-yourselfers) or by companies long out of business with no transferable warranty. Water stains on the surface of the repair is a sign of a recurring seepage problem.
5. Water stains on the concrete floor are not always a sure sign of foundation seepage, but it is an indication of a problem that should be investigated. Be sure to look for signs of water damage on wood framing, work benches and at the base of the basement stairs.
6. Negative grading on the exterior can lead to trouble in the basement. If the landscape or pavement slopes towards the house, water will pool against the foundation during a heavy downpour. Standing water next to the building can tax a drain tile system or cause hydrostatic pressure to build beneath your foundation, leading to seepage through and the .
7. Beware of gutter problems - Gutters that sag or leak at the seams, as well as far enough away from the foundation, can spell trouble for your foundation. Not only can these conditions cause seepage, but many can also be attributed to poor rain water management!
Because basement waterproofing is such a specialized trade, many home inspectors and real estate agents don’t know all the warning signs of past or potential future seepage problems. If you are considering purchasing a home, don’t go it alone – call out an expert for a free consultation. Not only do we love helping future homeowners, we love to share the secrets of our success with real estate agents as well.