We hear lots of theories from homeowners and even from experienced people in other construction trades about what causes (and what can prevent) a wet basement. In fact, we’ve written about some of these theories before, twice, and discussed why so many of them don’t hold water.
One of my favorites is something I call the “Higher Ground” theory. Not to be confused with the Stevie Wonder song of the same name, “Higher Ground” refers to the belief of some homeowners that, because their home sits on a higher elevation than those around it, they have nothing to worry about when it comes to keeping their basement dry.
Actually, there’s a lot more to preventing a wet basement than proper grading. It’s true that surface water will drain away faster from a house on higher ground than those around it, but there are many other sources of basement seepage. You could even still get water over the top of your foundation if it is buried in surrounding soil.
The Facts about Higher Ground and Basement Water Problems
Ground Water is Still a Problem – Although surface water is a big problem, a lot of the water that seeps into a basement comes from below ground. We recently wrote about the high water table in northwest Indiana and noted that ground water seeks its own level and will affect all structures in a specific area the same way, regardless of minor changes in surface elevation. Also, some rain water soaks into the ground around your foundation even when the rest of it runs off because of your grading.
Outside Water Still Must be Managed – Even if your house sits on top of a mountain, if you have clogged rain gutters that allow water to pour down around the edges of your home or downspouts that are dumping water right next to your foundation, you’re going to have a wet basement. Proper yard drainage is the only thing that will fix this problem.
Basement Windows and Window Wells Need TLC – If your basement has old, rusty or poorly fitted windows, they can allow water to seep into your basement after a heavy rain. If you couple that with bad window wells – detached liners, clogged or nonexistent drains, missing or broken covers – the problem will be even worse.
Sump Pumps Can Fail – High ground or low, a sump pump is key to keeping your basement dry. If yours fails, you’re in for a soggy mess that can only be prevented by checking on the sump pump regularly or, better yet, installing a battery backup sump pump.
So, if your home is sitting on high ground, enjoy the view but don’t assume your basement will stay dry without taking some precautions. At U.S. Waterproofing, we’ve ensured that more than 300,000 homeowners will have dry basements and, many times, those homes were the highest ones on the block. We’ve been doing it for more than 55 years so doesn’t it make sense to rely on our expert opinion? Please ask for our free advice.