Water table? I have a pool table in my basement but I don’t know anything about a water table.
OK, lame joke. We all know the water table isn’t furniture. It’s actually not so much a thing as it is a measurement – the uppermost level of the water-saturated soil that surrounds your home. Let me explain:
There’s water in the earth everywhere, even in hot, arid places. In some locations, the water is not far beneath the surface of the ground; in other places, like deserts, it’s buried extremely deep. The depth of the water can be affected by many things including seasonal rainfall and snowmelt, composition of the subsoil and proximity to bodies of water.
In northwest Indiana, the water table, or “surface” of water in the ground is pretty high, due mainly to the fact that the area sits right on Lake Michigan, one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the world. The sandy soil in the area helps drainage but proximity to the lake trumps that advantage and keeps the water table high. When it rains heavily, the water table rises from an already high point and can create serious problems for your basement and foundation.
How can a High Water Table Cause a Wet Basement?
As the water table rises, the amount of water in the soil increases and so does the pressure on your foundation, both hydrostatic pressure from below and lateral pressure on the walls. Here’s how that can create seepage problems:
If your basement floor has even the tiniest of cracks, the increased hydrostatic pressure will force water through them;
If the floor is solid, water can be forced in through the cove joint, where the foundation walls meet the footings;
Cracks in poured concrete foundation walls will begin to seep water as lateral pressure from over-saturated soil increases;
Mortar joints in concrete block walls can begin to deteriorate and seep water into the basement; and,
The concrete block itself, which is more porous than poured concrete, can begin to absorb water that will eventually find its way into the basement.
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for a high water table. Grading won’t help and proper yard drainage around your home will only prevent the problem from getting worse. Proper basement waterproofing systems are your only safeguard against the ravages of a high water table and some solutions you might consider include exterior and/or interior drain tile to draw off excess ground water; a high-volume sump pump to handle the large amount of water a rising water table can throw at you; and, exterior waterproofing membrane and drainage board (not just “damp-proofing”), especially on the concrete block foundations common to northwest Indiana.
Of course, a high water table and the accompanying pressure and water volume can also cause structural foundation damage; we’ll talk about that in our next article on northwest Indiana basements.
At U.S. Waterproofing, we have been helping northwest Indiana homeowners cope with their high water table for more than 30 years and we’ve left behind thousands of dry basements. If you’re having problems with water in your basement, why not ask for a free consultation?