It’s difficult to pick any one part of your home as the most important.
Walls and floors? Obviously important.
Roof? Of course.
Windows and doors? Yes and yes.
A home is like an organic system where all parts work together to provide shelter, warmth and comfort, so no individual piece of the system can function without the others. However, an argument can be easily made that the foundation is the basis of it all and, without it, the rest of the home would be robbed of a stable base that supports the entire thing.
Most homeowners would never ignore a sunken floor, leaking roof or broken window but many will overlook a leak in the foundation until it threatens the home’s stability. There are several good reasons to repair a leak in the foundation before it affects the entire home.
Why a Leak in a Foundation Must be Repaired Promptly
Foundation leaks usually happen due to pressure in the soil outside that is caused by water. When soil around the foundation walls becomes over-saturated, it swells and pushes inward on the structure. This causes cracks in poured concrete walls and in the mortar joints of masonry walls and the water is the forced in through these cracks.
Water pressure under the basement floor can also cause cracks that leak.
Sometimes, foundation leaks occur without cracks, such as when hydrostatic pressure below the foundation forces water into the basement through the cove joint, a tiny aperture created when foundation walls are poured or built.
Of course, leaks in a foundation can vary in severity from a tiny seepage to a flooded floor but one thing is true of any of them – left unrepaired, they spell trouble. Here are some reasons why foundation leaks shouldn’t be ignored:
Increased Humidity – The presence of water in the basement, even a small amount, increases humidity, in both the basement and in the living space above. Not only does this create an uncomfortable atmosphere within the home but it forces HVAC systems to work harder and longer, especially air-conditioning, to remove the humidity from the air. The result? Big electric bills.
Mold – Mold spores are so common that they exist in many places, including basements, where they can lay dormant for long periods of time. Mold requires three things to thrive and two of them, warmth and food, are present in just about every basement. (Food can be anything organic – wood, drywall, cardboard boxes, etc.) Add water from a leak in the foundation and mold spores will spring to life, causing damage to surfaces on which they grow and creating a hazardous atmosphere as they are drawn upwards into the home, ether by HVAC systems or the “stack effect” that moves air upward inside a structure.
Airborne mold spores can cause or exacerbate respiratory conditions among the home’s residents.
Worsening Damage – Leaks in foundations, unfortunately, don’t heal. Left unrepaired, they can only get worse and allow more water to enter the basement. In concrete block foundations, for example, water that enters through cracks in mortar joints often finds its way to the cavities in the blocks themselves, filling them up and allowing water to actually seep through the relatively porous block walls over time.
So, what’s the prudent homeowner to do when he or she spots the beginnings of a leak in the foundation? Call a basement waterproofing professional to assess the problem and recommend a permanent and cost-effective repair that will prevent any of the above consequences.
At U.S. Waterproofing, we’ve been helping homeowners in the Chicago and northwest Indiana area with foundation leaks since our founding in 1957 and we have more than 300,000 satisfied customers. Why not ask for our free advice when you spot a leak in your foundation?
Questions about foundation leaks? Please post them in the Comments box below.