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Top 5 Most Common Basement Waterproofing Problems

Feb 20, 2012 • By Matthew Stock.

Top 5 Most Common Basement Waterproofing Problems

When it comes to basement waterproofing problems, customers want to know that they are not alone.  One question homeowners ask us on a daily basis is, “Is my problem unusual?”

And almost every time, we give the same stock answer “We’ve seen and solved many of these problems Mr. / Mrs. ____________.”

So where does your basement waterproofing problem rank?

Drum roll please…

Top 5 Basement Waterproofing Problems

Number 1: Foundation Wall Leaks

If you live in Chicagoland and your house was built in the last 20 to 30 years, you probably have a poured concrete foundation.  Wall cracks are far and away the most common source of seepage in poured foundations.  They happen for a number of reasons.  Fortunately, they are easy to fix.  Older homes were often built using masonry, such as brick and stone.  Newer masonry foundations are made of concrete block and are most commonly found in Northwest Indiana and Southern Wisconsin.  The mortar holding the masonry units together tends to wear away over time, providing an easy pathway for seepage into your basement.  This isn’t as economical to repair as a crack, but the nice thing is that there are plenty of options.

Number 2: Seepage from Floor

Seepage from the floor isn’t as common as wall seepage, but it does happen quite frequently, especially during heavy downpours.  When this happens, the water table builds beneath your basement floor, leading to seepage through cracks in the floor and the cove joint.  An Interior Drain Tile System is usually your best bet to resolve that issue.  Just don’t be fooled into thinking water pooling on your floor always means it must be coming from beneath the floor.  It could be coming from a wall crack and pooling in a low spot.  Gravity can be sneaky. 

Number 3: Sump Pump Problems

A few years ago, we had a popular radio spot called “Sump-Phobia”.  The fear of sump pump failure is actually quite common.  And there’s good reason for that - they fail all the time!  Fortunately, we have an answer.  In fact, we have many answers.  We offer free sump pump inspections and can customize a system to meet your needs.  Unless you’re a professional, you might not to want tackle this project yourself

Number 4:  Overflowing Window Wells

Window wells are great, especially for letting natural light into the basement.  But when they fill with water, look out!  An overflowing window well can create a horrible mess.  It ranks right up there with sump pump failure as far as the potential for causing damage.  Drains installed during original construction often fail.  At a minimum, do a periodic check to make sure there isn’t any debris clogging the drain.  Better yet, purchase a custom window well cover.  You might also want to try running water inside the well to make sure it drains properly.  Understand this isn’t always a foolproof test.  When it rains, the pipe the drain connects into can quickly fill up, causing the drain to back up.

Number 5: Grading Problems

Chicagoland is relatively flat.  But there are some areas where it gets a little hilly – Saint Charles, Palos Hills, and the North Shore suburbs along Lake Michigan to name a few.  If the grading isn’t sloped away from your house, your chances of a basement seepage problem increase significantly.  If your house is situated on flat ground, make sure the grading does not extend above the top of the foundation (brick line).  Otherwise, water can easily seep through the openings in the mortar.  If the grading cannot be corrected, in most instances, we’ll use an Exterior Waterproof Membrane to solve the problem. 

If none of these sound like your problem, have no fear.  When you have been in as many basements as we have, nothing really comes as a surprise.  We’ve waterproofed over 300,000 basements over the past 55 years.  Yep, we’ve seen just about every type of basement waterproofing problem there is.  Crack seepage, window well seepage, floor seepage, seepage running down the foundation wall, seepage bubbling up through the floor….Alright, I’ll stop rambling like Bubba from Forrest Gump (one of my favorite movies). 

Tags: cracks in basement walls, foundation waterproofing, basement waterproofing facts, most common problems

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