fbpx

If you do not address leaky basement repairs promptly, they become more expensive the longer you wait. Also, water damage can become a hazard to your family’s health, with moisture causing mildew and mould.

Close-up portrait of uncertain young man with bristle, shrugging make confused face, wondering what causes leaky basements and how to repair them

What causes leaky basements?

Are there warning signs of basement leaks?

How can you tell if a foundation crack is a problem or not?

What are the options for foundation repair and waterproofing?

Can you prevent basement flooding?

What Causes Leaky Basements?

When the soil swells or shrinks, the earth beneath your foundation moves and can cause damage. The most common cause for a foundation leak is hydrostatic pressure or water pressure in the soil around your foundation. Inadequate drainage usually causes this. Alternatively, foundation cracks cause leaky basements. 

Conditions that make your home more susceptible to foundation problems include:

  • Soil not properly compacted at time of construction
  • Extreme frost
  • Severe freeze-thaw cycles
  • Plumbing Leaks below the property
  • Tree Roots
  • Weather events compromised the structure 
  • High clay content in the soil
cartoon image of house with warning signs indicating possible leaky basement repairs like cracked brick, door and window separation, foundation cracks, wall cracks, floor cracks

Warning Signs of Trouble Indicating Possible Leaky Basement Repairs

Since it is important to address issues early, be sure to check your home for warning signs that might indicate potential problems with your foundation wall before you notice basement leaks. Here are some of the common signs of foundation issues: 

  • Separation around exterior doors and windows
  • Cracked brick
  • Obvious cracks in the foundation
  • Displaced mouldings
  • Cracked or uneven concrete floor
  • Interior doors and windows won’t close properly

Types of Foundation Cracks

If you notice a crack in your foundation or basement wall, the type of foundation and type of crack will determine if you need to take action or not.

row of diagrams for 6 types of foundation cracks: horizontal, structural, step, hairline, vertical, and diagonal

Horizontal Cracks

These are the worst ones and indicate potential damage to your home’s structural integrity and a high possibility of needing leaky basement repairs.

Structural Cracks

These are serious. They measure ¼ inch in width or more and pose a significant problem to the strength of the home’s foundation. These require immediate attention.

Step Cracks

These are common in block foundations and found along the mortar joints of the blocks. They can indicate bowing walls and you should definitely investigate to ensure your home remains safe and supported.

Hairline Cracks

Most common in new home construction as a result of normal foundation settlement, they are minor and do not pose an immediate threat to the strength of your home’s foundation. But If not repaired, they will become larger over time, eventually causing water to seep into your basement.

Vertical Cracks

Like hairline cracks, these are not a problem for the strength of your foundation. However, they still need to be fixed before they cause more problems later on.

Diagonal Cracks

These cracks are at an angle across the wall, over 30 degrees. They too are not an immediate threat to the structural integrity of the home’s foundation, but you should still repair them before they can cause more damage.

Options for Leaky Basement Repairs and Foundation Waterproofing

Historically, techniques for leaky basement repairs have varied. Some sadly had little success and provided more disruption than results. We will always try to recommend an option with the least amount of disruption to your family or business. Here are some of our most common methods, but it is always best to have a professional inspect the cause to offer the correct solution.

Crack Injections

When a crack appears from the inside of your basement wall, injecting the crack with polyurethane foam is a great solution. It travels all the way through the wall and beyond to any voids behind the wall. Then it expands and seals to create a barrier permanently stopping the flow of water. The foam is flexible and adapts to the natural movement of your wall and will not shrink over time, providing permanent protection.

Illustration of leaky basement repairs using crack injections

Interior Sub Drain System

For block wall foundations, or when the exterior is not accessible to fix cracks, we recommend an interior basement waterproofing system. It is also a great solution when cracks are not the issue but a hydrostatic pressure problem causing groundwater to rise up and down, penetrating the basement slab.

We break the basement floor around the perimeter, remove the concrete, and dig a trench to accommodate weeping tile, which connects to a drain or sump pump. We install a dimpled sheet of drainage membrane on the interior exposed wall and clear gravel over the weeping tile. Finally, we pour a layer of concrete to finish the floor.

This prevents water seepage from entering the cove area of the basement where the basement floor meets the wall. It allows moisture to drain harmlessly beneath the floor. A similar system is available for new and retrofit construction before they pour concrete.

diagrams of interior sub drain systems both after and before construction

Foundation Dig

We ideally attempt leaky basement repairs from the source, the exterior of your home, where the water enters your home. Restoring the foundation to its natural state and improving drainage with new weeping tile will achieve successful waterproofing. However, this requires excavation around the perimeter of your home, so not always a viable option. 

If exterior waterproofing is possible, we begin with digging around the foundation, installing shoring for safety. Then we replace the weeping tile, clean and inspect foundation walls for voids and cracks. We repair defective areas and install a membrane system that permits expansion if any further settlement occurs.

Next, we apply a dimpled sheet of drainage membrane for protection and drainage. We continue by placing clear gravel over the weeping tile. If required, we install additional weeping tiles vertically down from window well footings for additional drainage. Finally, we backfill and compact the area.

Collage of stages of a foundation dig from excavating the trench, installing tile and membrane to filling the hole

Methods for Basement Flooding and Moisture Prevention

A proper drainage system is a key to prevention. Heavy rains present a risk to any home if you do not take certain precautionary measures. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Clear debris from storm drains
  • Ensure proper grading and downspout placement directs water away from your foundation
  • Install window well covers to avoid water from accumulating
  • Test your floor drains
  • Set up a flood alarm
  • Repair cracks
  • Install a sump pump
  • Seal your crawl space
diagram of sump pump

Proper Sump Pump Maintenance

A sump pump pumps water out and away from your home to keep the area underneath dry and water off your basement floor. However, proper sump pump maintenance is imperative if you need to rely on it. Here are some tips:

  • Test your sump pump often by filling it to ensure the float switch works and the pump turns on to pump the water out. Make sure it turns off too.
  • Check the power outlet of your pump and the cord for any tears as well as ensure the battery backup is working.
  • Clean the inlet screen a few times a year and the pump itself once a year. Unplug and remove the pump from the pit. Clean the exterior and float and inspect the check valve. 
  • Remove all sludge and debris from the pit once a year.
  • Check the discharge pipe to ensure there are no blockages or damages.

Crawl Space Sealing

Preventing moisture by sealing your crawl space protects your family from harmful mould, mildew, and soil gases. No more musty smells and air quality improves. Plus, you have an additional usable storage area in your home and decreased energy costs.

Prior to sealing, we lay a special fabric to enhance drainage which won’t rot or decay. This also cushions the floor, protects the liner and your hands and knees.

two sets of before and after images of crawl space sealing

The team members at Brosco Concrete are reliable basement waterproofers. Contact them for more information about leaky basement repairs and preventative measures before, during and after construction.

Leave a Reply