Posted   |   by superiorbasement   |   Blog

The sight of water on your basement floor can be alarming. However, it’s not uncommon. Unfortunately, basement flooding is an issue that many homeowners experience. Even the newest constructed basements are prone to leaking at one point or another, which means you may have to eventually deal with this issue.

Mold, mildew, flooring and wall materials are typically the most compromised in wet basements. Having a basement that takes on water prevents a valuable space from being used effectively, and can even become a structural liability. When this happens you then face the challenges of being able to you’re your home. Because there are a number of potential causes of basement flooding, it’s important to properly identify the underlying issue to ensure the problem is fixed correctly.

At some point, all basements are susceptible to to flooding. Water always runs from high to low ground, meaning that under certain conditions, your basement becomes an indoor swimming pool. But, where is all the water coming from?

The Most Common Reasons for Basement Flooding

  • Plumbing Leaks – Often times, the root of a water issue can be inside of your home. Leaky pipes are very common which emphasizes the importance having your pipes regularly inspected for leaks, cracks or blockages. When winter comes around, properly preparing them for the colder weather will ensure they don’t freeze and burst.
  • Leaky Basement Windows – The weakest point in your basement’s energy efficiency, and a common entrance for groundwater. How does water enter through your basement windows?
    1. Older style – Basement windows that are not as new or modern are often crafted with a steel or wooden frame that is mounted in an opening in the foundation wall. Though the low costs may be ideal, in the end they just will not hold up. In about five years or even less, the window frames will start to rust or corrode causing damage that becomes very prone to leaks.
    2. Window Wells – Basement window wells are made with gravel at the bottom of them to drain away collected water. Over time, window wells will eventually collect too much dirt, leaves and other debris, causing them to back up and inefficiently drain the water.
  • Inapt Location for your Home – A classic cause of basement flooding is the result of a house that has been built on an unbefitting site. Homes are typically built on sloped terrains, allowing accumulated water to drain. If your home has not been built on an ideal location, surface drainage will be directed towards your home. To avoid water leaking through the foundation of your home, consider reshaping your yard.
  • Clogged Gutters – When heavy rainfall occurs, your gutters and downspouts may become blocked by debris that eventually causes excess water to seep into the foundation of your home. Your gutters should be cleaned and inspected at least once a year to ensure adequate drainage.
  • Condensation –Leaks do not always mean that waster is seeping through. High humidity levels inside your basement can also be a trigger for water in your basement. Homes with poor ventilation, warm summer temperatures, or homes near the ocean are most prone to this. If it looks like your walls, pipes, ceiling or furniture are “sweating,” it may be condensation. To solve this issue, install proper venting especially for your dryer if it’s located in the basement, or by using a dehumidifier to condition the air.
  • Sewer Backup – Sometimes your sewer system can become inundated with wastewater or storm water. If this happens, the water will back up into your home through toilets, sinks or floor drains. Installing backwater valves to halt backflows on the sanitary sewer line may help prevent this.
  • Failed Sump Pump – Yes, sump pumps are designed to protect your basement from water….but there is always a chance of malfunction. To prevent this from occurring, you should regularly inspect, clean and test your sump pumps.

Signs of Leakage in Your Basement

Identifying seepages, in a timely manner, is critical to preventing further water damage. The main objective is to pinpoint the source. Where is the water coming from? Is it an external water source such as rain or groundwater, or another source such as leaky plumbing or condensation? To find the source and determine the best way to repair it, carefully inspect your basement for signs of leakage. Common indications include:

  • Dampness/Brown Stains of Walls and Ceiling –If your walls or ceiling feel/look damp and have the appearance of brown stains, this may be a sign that water has been absorbed into them. This water could be coming from leaky plumbing, groundwater seepage or rainfall buildup.
  • Unpleasant Odors–Mold and mildew are common home invaders appear quickly, within 24 hours, in areas of high humidity or, where water has accumulated. If a musty smell is present, you’ve found your perpetrators. Acting quickly to mold and mildew is important as it releases harmful bacteria that can produce respiratory problems and allergies.
    1. Wood and upholstered furniture can trap mold, may need to be discarded.
    2. Glass, plastic, metal objects, and other items made of hardened or nonporous materials can often be cleaned, disinfected and reused.
    3. Carpeting is a big issue because simply drying it out does not eliminate mold spores.
  • Efflorescence – This chalky, white mineral deposit that’s often seen on walls is a sign of high humidity levels.
  • Stained Carpets – Carpet that has stains or is damp can indicate water has been entering. Find all areas where this may be happening and see if it is linked with heavy rainfalls.
  • Water Bugs –Some small insects are drawn to areas where moisture gathers and will be on the hunt for water sources. Signs of bugs can be found behind furniture and appliances, around corners, and along baseboards and beams to get closer to the water source.
  • Stained or Damaged Wood –Darkened wood or tarnished floorboards are major indicators of water damage.
  • Cracked and Damp Floors – Cracks around the floors or walls can be a sign of water trying to enter and seep through.
  • Peeling Paint – Once water has soaked through drywall, the paint will begin chipping away. If this happens are you aren’t feeling any moisture, a stagnant water problem may be present.

Tips to Maintain a Comfortable Basement Environment

  • Use a Dehumidifier–High humidity is one of the leading roots of mold growth in the basement. When the relative humidity level is greater than 80%, mold and mildew thrive. Whether your basement is finished or unfinished, it should be kept at or below 50% relative humidity. A dehumidifier is recommended to maintain an appropriate humidity level.
  • Maintain Proper Temperatures – Many people are prone to turning down the heat in the basement if they aren’t using it. Don’t do this! When air cools, its relative humidity levels increase. The best tactic to sustain a 50% relative humidity level in your basement is to keep it warm in the heating season. The ideal temperature for your basement during the heating season is 58 to 60 degrees F.
  • Get Rid of Basement Carpeting –Carpet captures biodegradable dust and is a breeding ground for mold. To eliminate the various issues basement carpet can bring about, tile or vinyl flooring is the recommended flooring for a basement.
  • Proper Storage –An unfinished basement typically becomes a storage room for cardboard boxes of seasonal decorations or other clutter that needs a temporary home. The problem with that is that anything biodegradable on a concrete floor may lead to mold issues. If water ever enters the basement or moisture occurs, these boxes should be off the floor and on a metal or plastic shelf. This shelving should also be at least 18 inches away from the foundation wall and at least 6 inches off the floor.

Organizing Your Basement to Keep Your Belongings Dry

Many people keep old items from their parents or childhood in their basement. Even if they never plan to take these precious treasures upstairs or use them again, just having them simply allows them to feel connected to someone or something in their past. Whether it’s sentimental value or items that are just costly, the sight of water ruining your belongings is not one you want to see. Keeping your belongings organized will help to keep them dry and out of reach as much as possible.

Use Shelves

Obviously if you have items sitting on the basement floor, they’re going to encounter water during flooding. Storing your items on shelves will help to keep them more protected and organized. If you don’t currently have shelves installed, that will need to be something you think about doing. The most valuable items or ones that are more easily damaged should be stored at the top.

Avoid the Drain

If your basement has a drain set in the center of it, keep your items away from this area. Without it, any water that enters the basement will be trapped there.

Use Plastic Storage Bins

Cardboard boxes are easily damaged, it’s best to put your items into plastic storage bins that are watertight. This is even an option for things you are keeping on the shelf, most importantly the lower shelves. Labeling these bins will help you easily locate important items during flooding. These types of bins are available in a variety of sizes to accommodate your needs.

Hang Items

Do you have items that can be hung from the ceiling or put on the walls? This will keep them off the floor and out of the water.

Keep the Clutter to a Minimum

The less clutter you have in your basement, the less you will have to remove. This also decreases the chance of your belongings becoming ruined.

  • Four-Step Response to Basement Flooding
    1. Step 1: Stay Safe – if your basement floods, do not risk serious injury. A flooded basement can pose serious health and safety risks. If the event of a flooded basement, keep your family safe with these tips:
      • If possible, avoid going down into the basement. Standing water in your basement can contain harmful bacteria. In a severe basement-flooding situation, water covering the basement floor to a depth of an inch or more, wait until the water is pumped out.
      • At no timeshould you touch electrical wiring or fixtures. If you must enter a flooded basement, wear waterproof rubber boots. Aside from a battery-powered flashlight, avoid touching or using electrical devices that will put you at risk of electrical shock or electrocution.
      • Have standing water pumped out as soon as possible. Contact Superior Basement Water Control & Remodeling for help.
  • Step 2: Identify the Cause of your Flooded Basement
    1. Sometimes the source of unwanted water is obvious, but in other cases, the cause may not be so clear. After the water has been pumped out of your basement, Superior Basement Water Control & Remodeling can work with you to find the best waterproofing system to keep your basement dry.
  • Step 3: Remove Water-Damaged Items
    1. Eliminate any moisture-damaged and mold-prone items or areas of the home.
  • Step 4: Install an Effective Waterproofing System
    1. Find and install a waterproofing solution that will meet the needs of your basement.

Benefits of Basement Waterproofing

An estimated 98 percent of basements experience water damage at some point. Aside from doing the obvious, basement waterproofing has many major benefits –

  • Reduces Cost of Insurance Claims: Water damage accounts for about one fifth of all insurance claims homeowners make. Because basement flooding may involve many components such as cracks in the foundation, structural damage to wood, drywall and other materials, the price of the claims can quickly add up. Water damage to your basement can occur from major storms, flooding, plumbing leaks, or even slow leaks that may have been ignored over time. Don’t risk the obvious, or unknown. Invest in waterproofing your basement to save money on related insurance claims.
  • Water Prevention: Getting ahead of the game and enforcing simple waterproofing actions can prevent basement floods. Seal cracks in the foundation, install a sump pump and drainage system to divert ground water.
  • Healthier Home Environment: Excess water or high moisture levels in a home typically results in mold or mildew, which not only damages your property but also prompts negative health effects (allergies, breathing issues, respiratory infections, etc.). Even though mold may grow in unseen areas of your home, it’s just as dangerous as the obvious mold. Waterproofing your basement reduces the moisture level, which will aid in preventing mold development.
  • Protects the Basement Floor: The majority of basements have a concrete floor that is about 2-4 inches thick. This thin floor is susceptible to pressure from ground water swelling beneath which leads to floor cracking. This puts your basement at a much higher threat of seepage or serious flooding.
  • Sump Pump Protection: Though a sump pump is an important factor in basement waterproofing, sump pumps can malfunction or even stop working altogether in the event of a power outage. Additional waterproofing tactics will offer protection for your basement in the event your sump pump fails.
  • Prevention of Structural Damage: Water leakage through the foundation of your home can result in substantial structural damage by affecting joints and edges where the flooring and walls meet. This type of damage may be out of sight and become a much larger issue before you realize. Effective waterproofing will shield the joints and edges from excess water and prevent severe structural damage.

Serious damage, unsanitary living environment, expensive repairs….who wants to deal with that? Waterproofing your basement is key to avoiding these situations as much as possible.

What Should You Know If Your Basement Floods?

Carefully Drain the Basement

Your home may be hard to enter if it is flooded. Pay attention to the doors, and, where the water has soaked in. If the door only sticks at the bottom, it can be forced open. If it sticks at the top, your ceiling may fall in. If you have to force the door open, just wait outside the doorway for a minute or two in case something falls. A window may have to be used as an entryway if the door does not open easily. Remember not to use candles, gas lanterns, or other open flames in your home before completely airing it out.

If your basement has flooded, don’t rush to pump the water out. Because the water in the ground outside of your home is pushing hard against the outside basement walls and the water inside your basement is pushing right back, draining too quickly could cause the walls and floor to crack and collapse.

Lower the Humidity

After the water is completely pumped out, lowering the humidity level will be key. Everything will dry and clean more easily if the humidity is reduced. A heavy-duty dehumidifier will help to control the moisture level and prevent mold from growing.

Look for Structural Damage

Consider having a professional foundation repair contractor evaluate your home for any structural damage that may have occurred. Signs of structural damage may include cracks in the foundation, broken pilings, shifted stairs or slanted floors.

Effective Cleanup

  • Open windows for ventilation, wear rubber gloves and eye protection when cleaning.
  • Contemplate using a mask rated N-95 or higher if dense concentrations of mold exist.
  • Use a non-ammonia soap or detergent to clean all areas and washable items that were exposed to any water.
  • Mix 1-1/2 cups of household bleach in one gallon of water and thoroughly rise and disinfect the area. You should never mix bleach and ammonia, as the fumes are toxic.
  • Because cleaned areas can take several days to completely dry, use heats, fans and dehumidifiers to speed up the drying process.
  • Inspect all odors. Mold may be hiding behind walls and wall coverings.
  • Remove and discard all objects and materials that cannot be cleaned.

Landscaping Tips to Prevent Basement Flooding

Warmer weather is an exciting time for those with a green thumb. Some garden and landscape as a hobby, and some do it for curb appeal. However, there is more to landscaping than just sprucing up the exterior of your home. If done correctly, landscaping the perimeter of your home can help prevent water from seeping into basements during wet weather or accidental water hazards. Spring and summer are the perfect time to protect your home from water damage via landscaping. Use these tips for effective landscaping techniques.

  • Grade Your Yard – The ground surrounding your perimeter should always slope away from your home in order to prevent incoming water. You will need to know the high and low points of your home, and use extra dirt to slope accordingly. You may need to consult a professional to ensure vents, basement windows, pipes, drains, and other areas are not negatively impacted during grading.
  • Choose Native Plants – Plants that are original to the area in which you live can help to avert soil erosion while also allowing storm water to drain efficiently.
  • Add Mulch –In garden areas graded away from your home, fill with a few inches of mulch to help keep the soil in place and trap in rainwater. If you are adding mulch near your home, you will want to be sure the mulch is at least six inches from your siding to prevent moisture rotting about your home’s exterior.
  • Plant Grass – The root of grass can help absorb water. When you mow your lawn, you will need to make sure not to cut your lawn too short, otherwise, you will weaken the root and put your yard in a position for flooding.
  • Add Drainage Areas Near Driveways – Paved driveways can rapidly lead to storm water runoff, putting your home at an increased risk of flooding. Two other types of driveway options include a gravel driveway or a spaced paver driveway. However, if you are looking for a less expensive alternative you can add drainage next to your driveway by way of channel drains, pavers, or other landscaping-based solutions.
  • Install Rain Barrels –Adding rain barrels to the bottom of your downspouts to collect water are a great option to redirect moisture and defend your home from flooding.

The Ruining Effects of a Wet Basement

  • It can result in mold, which can be challenging to treat.
  • It can damage stored personal items such as electronics, clothing, paperwork, photos, or other precious items and memories.
  • It can lead to accidents, such as slip and fall or even electrical fires.
  • It can cause damage to the foundation of your home, which can result in a variety of other issues.

Basements are extremely susceptible to water issues as they are the lowest point in your house and holds down excessive amounts of weight, especially during rainy months. Recognizing any signs of moisture as early as possible will make a big impact on how the issue is treated and solved, including the expenses you will face.Your basement is important to the value of your home; you do not want to neglect it. Having access to a reputable basement company, such as Superior Basement Water Control and Remodelingcan help keep your basement in its best condition.