Custom Structures

Architects & General Contractors

Part 2 - A Wet Basement May be the Least of Your Worries.

2015-12-09 14:19:00

Part 2 - A Wet Basement May be the Least of Your Worries.

Last week, we touched on how a foundation wall should be constructed to avoid water infiltration and stating that a sump pump does not correct the problem.

When the foundation protection system starts to break down, multiple problems occur. Water on the basement floor is a symptom of a problem and is not the problem itself. Having a clogged or compressed drain tile, the grade not sloping away from the foundation, downspouts that are disconnected, and the black-tar waterproofing breaking down are all problems. If you choose not to fix these problems, the water in your basement will be the least of your worries. Water that is allowed to gather around a foundation could lead to your house settling.

Take a look around your perimeter regularly. Those stair step cracks are signs that the footing is probably settling. Another problem deals with water pressure. As the water pressure builds up on the exterior, the weight against the foundation wall increases. This causes the wall to bow in and that becomes the horizontal crack in the wall that is common in older homes. 

A water leak, horizontal foundation cracks, vertical stair step cracks, damp exterior foundation walls and a bowing wall are all symptoms. The first step to problem solving is recognizing the difference between symptoms and problems. The second step is to find the right professional who knows the difference. Protecting your foundation is the single most important aspect of owning your home. Installing a trench on the inside and pumping the water out of your home is not protecting your foundations.

If your roof was leaking, would you install a tarp in the attic to catch the water and then pump it outside?

To find the right company you need to have to the right questions. Start by calling only licensed professionals. A foundation expert will identify your symptoms, and then give you an explanation of what the problem is. Always be prepared to ask why. If a company says you have water coming into your basement because your house is old, then you are wasting your time and it’s time to move to the next company. A proper analysis would be to say you have water infiltrating midway up the wall which tells us that you may not have a drain tile issue. If your drain tile was stopped up, the water would be infiltrating at the bottom of the wall. The next step is to walk the perimeter of the exterior. If a downspout has come disconnected or the grade has settled and water is building up in that area it is pushing thru the wall where your waterproofing protection has weakened over the years. These problems can be resolved by fixing the grade and reconnecting the downspout. If it continues to leak, it is recommended to dig up that area and apply another coat of waterproofing protection.

The key to success is to identify the problem first. Fix the problem and do not compromise your foundation by covering up the problem. Remember that the only way to get a warranty on waterproofing your home is to dig it up completely and fix it.