Arrgh! I have water in my basement. Where did it come from?
Good question. There are several answers, each indicating a different type of water problem. And, each will require a different solution.
What are the Sources of Basement Water Problems?
Basically, water in your basement can come from one of three sources: seepage, storm sewer back-up or sanitary sewer back-up.
Seepage – Seepage is ground water, held in the soil outside your foundation that makes its way into your basement through openings in the foundation. These can include wall cracks, floor cracks, the cove joint, openings for pipes and windows and over the top of the foundation. This is the most common source of water in your basement.
Storm Sewer Backup – The storm sewer is a municipal sewer system that carries off storm water after heavy rains. Water flows into the storm sewer through curb drains and other drains in streets and parking lots and may discharge to bodies of water, detention basins or other holding areas. Typically, the only direct connection between your home and the storm sewer is a discharge line for a sump pump and this line should have a substantial check valve to prevent backflow into the sump basin. The greater danger from storm sewer back-up is the additional water flowing into nearby sanitary sewers.
In older homes, however, there may be direct connections between downspouts or even drain tile with the storm sewer. A connected downspout will be blocked by backflow, causing clogged gutters to overflow and rain water to pour off the roof and saturate soil around the foundation. Connected drain tile will have the same effect with back-flowing water escaping into the soil through perforations in the pipe.
Sanitary Sewer Back-up – The sanitary sewer is a municipal sewer line that carries off waste from your home’s plumbing system and takes it to a sewage processing facility. If this line backs up, due either to mechanical failure or capacity overflow through infiltration of rain water, sewage from this line can enter your home at the lowest point of your plumbing system. This is likely to be a floor drain, toilet, shower or tub drain or even a sink.
Sanitary sewer back-ups are doubly dangerous because your home can suffer damage not only from water but from bacteria and other contaminants found in the raw sewage.
If your problem is seepage, no matter the source, you’ll need the services of a basement waterproofing company. At U.S. Waterproofing, we’ve ensured dry basements for more than 300,000 homeowners in the past 55 years and we can help you the same way. If you think the source of your water problem may be sewer back-up, ask for our free advice anyway; we work with sewer contractors regularly and we’d be glad to recommend one that meets our high standards.