Your basement is an important part of your home. For many of us, it provides additional space for storage and houses our water heater and washer and dryer. For others, it’s a “man cave” or entertainment area. Still others use their basement as another bedroom or living area. Whatever your basement is used for, the last thing you want is for it to hold water. However, many basements are prone to flooding, water leaking, and water infiltration.
The most common areas where water enters the basement and/or foundation are: basement floor and wall joints, basement floor cracks, between the foundation footing and foundation wall, below the foundation footing, foundation wall cracks, and window wells.
If your basement has ever experienced leaks or flooding, especially during a heavy downpour, you need to request an evaluation. Basements are prone to water leaks and moisture buildup, which can result in basement flooding. Even if your basement doesn’t flood, a leaky, damp, or wet basement can also lead to severe problems such as an unstable foundation, mold, or insect infestation.
What Causes Basement Moisture?
Basement moisture and water infiltration doesn’t happen by chance. There are several reasons why your basement may be prone to moisture and flooding.
- Poorly compacted soil: Poorly compacted soil can encourage water to seep in near the foundation of the basement. The grade of soil should allow water to flow away from exterior walls, not toward them.
- Foundation settling: If the soil around your house isn’t properly compacted, or if you have had any recent construction done near the foundation of your house, this could cause the foundation to settle. A settled foundation could lead to more water draining toward your house and your basement, resulting in basement flooding and water infiltration.
- Hydrostatic Pressure: Hydrostatic pressure occurs when water accumulates around your foundation. Gravity pushes down on the water, and the water will try to escape to alleviate the pressure. The water will take the path of least resistance and find its way in through any cracks in your basement walls and floors. The pressure can get so intense that it will cause cracks in your basement if the pressure is not relieved.
- Clogged or poor drainage system: Gutters and downspouts are installed to direct rainwater away from the house’s foundation. However, poorly installed gutters and downspouts may encourage water toward your foundation. Gutters also become clogged and will not function properly, causing drainage problems that could potentially flood your basement. Keep your gutters clean and your downspouts pointed away from your house to help prevent water problems in your basement.
- Basement windows not watertight: Basement windows can be another cause of water infiltration. Make sure that your basement windows are above ground-level and are watertight. If you’re unsure, have a professional check to see if they have watertight seal.
So, there’s a little bit of water in my basement – Big deal
It is a big deal. If your basement is experiencing any type of leaking or flooding, even if you just see simple drips or condensation on your walls, it’s important to call a professional for evaluation and to help you fix it.
Any type of prolonged water in your basement can pose serious risk to your house and to the people who live in your house. Neglecting the problem may be exposing your family to potentially serious air quality problems if mold, mildew, or wood rot take hold.
Mold and mildew thrive in dark and damp basements. Spores will spread and incubate leading to weak spots in the walls and foundation and can pose a serious health risk to those who are sensitive. People with allergies and/or asthma tend to be at higher risk for getting ill from basements with mold and mildew, but mold and mildew can be highly toxic to everyone in your family. The tiny spores of fungus that mold releases into the air, when ingested, can harm your airways. Common symptoms of prolonged exposure to mold includes headaches, respiratory illness, asthma, and eye infections.
Moisture in the basement is also a breeding ground for bacteria who like to grow on damp, organic matter such as wooden floorboard and walls. Once airborne, these bacteria can cause serious illnesses and without proper sealing, can easily spread throughout the house.
Other creepy crawlies are attracted to wet basements as well. Mice, cockroaches, spiders, snakes, and ants are just a few of the home invaders who will take advantage of your damp basement and the cracks in the walls and foundation. The most common, and arguably the most difficult to see, are dust mites. Dust mites thrive in warm, wet environments and can pose some aggravating health issues including a stuffy nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing. These are also common allergy symptoms, so if you are suffering from this in your home, it may mean that you need to check your basement. Experts recommend keeping your humidity levels below 50% to help banish dust mites.
Foundation problems can also be a result of water damage in your basement. Water is heavier and more dangerous than people realize, especially when it comes to the structure of your house. The property’s foundation becomes vulnerable due to continuous moisture which will seep into the wood or concrete and eventually cause cracks in the walls and floors. The foundation itself may even shift from prolonged water exposure, creating costly repairs.
Any cracks from water damage will also increase your monthly energy bill. Just like water, air will also find its way through small spaces, which will change the temperature of your home. You may end up using more heating and air conditioning to keep your home comfortable, raising your energy bill and decreasing your overall comfort.
Constant water in your basement will create humidity in your house and it will always be off during seasonal weather. When your humidity is controlled, the room doesn’t feel damp during rainy or cold weather.
Even a small amount of moisture can put you at risk for experiencing electrical problems. Power sockets, wiring, fuse boxes, and any items you have running off of electricity in your basement could be damaged from water, leading to costly repairs and the possible interruption of electricity. Even worse, moisture in the basement can increase the risk of someone getting shocked or electrocuted and seriously injured.
Many people have their HVAC system, water heater, and laundry appliances in the basement. When water comes in contact with metal, that metal will rust as will the metal in your appliances. Their longevity will decrease. The moisture can cause serious damage and even lead to premature system failure, causing a potential interruption in your heating or cooling, and expensive repairs or replacement costs.
All of This Sounds Really Bad – What Can I Do?
If you notice damp, humid air; respiratory problems; visible mold, mildew, or fungus; standing water; and/or spots or cracks on walls, it’s time to call in an expert, and the sooner, the better. Most homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover water or flood damage, so you want to fix the problem early before you have to shell out extra money.
Waterproofing your basement is one of the most effective, cost-efficient, and one of the best long-term solutions to prevent water damage to your basement.
Greenserve is an expert in waterproofing basements and we specialize in an interior waterproofing system. We install a closed drain system that utilizes a vapor barrier on the basement walls that conducts the penetrating water into a sub-floor drainage system. The sub-floor drainage system crack injections are generally only suitable for poured concrete foundations where leaking is originating from the walls, not the floors. Masonry foundations, such as brick, stone, or cinder block are not ideal for these injections. While this may stop the leaking for a while, it also does not address the underlying issue and should only be used as a temporary fix not a permanent solution.
Exterior excavation waterproofing is thorough, but quite disruptive and very expensive. This method should generally only be used in new construction when the house is initially being built. Exterior waterproofing involves excavating 6 to 8 feet down in to the foundation wall footer and correcting the drainage by installing a new drainage system. A waterproofing membrane will be applied to the exterior wall’s surface so that water doesn’t infiltrate it again. Depending on the number of areas affected by water infiltration, exterior waterproofing may involve multiple locations and multiple walls, increasing the overall cost. Due to the extensive nature of the excavation required, exterior basement waterproofing is the most expensive method. While it does have the advantage of requiring little to no maintenance once the project is complete, the disruption to the landscaping can be extensive. Features such as porches and driveways may need to be dug through or removed in order to reach the foundation walls. The more features and specialized equipment needed, the more expensive the waterproofing.
Interior excavation, which Greenserve specializes in, costs significantly less than exterior waterproofing. It’s the most common and least invasive system that will completely waterproof your basement. It will even address hydrostatic pressure. Interior excavation will require some disruption to your home, but only for a short time. We will have to jackhammer the concrete floor in the basement to install new drainage and a sump pump.
Having a working sump pump is vital for this system to work. A sump pump is generally hardwired into the electrical system, but some have a backup battery system, which ensures that the sump pump will still operate even if the power goes out. There are several other options for sump pumps, so make sure to talk to our specialists to see what option is right for you.
Greenserve also uses a closed waterproofing system, which is significantly better for your basement. The Basement Health Association recommends a closed waterproofing system because radon and soil gases can easily come up through an open system. Bugs and other pests can crawl through an open system and may choose to make a home in your basement. Moisture may seep through into the living space and bacteria and mildew seems to flourish in an open drainage system. The open drainage system is also linked to homes having higher heating and cooling costs as air tends to travel through open spaces.
I’m Ready to Waterproof My Basement! Where Do I Go?
If you’re ready to waterproof your basement, look no further than Greenserve. With over 25 years of combined experience, we know waterproofing. At Greenserve, our goal is to provide the highest quality home performance services the area has to offer accompanied by the most pleasurable customer experience possible. With every customer, we aim to transform their home or building into a healthier, more comfortable, and energy efficient place to live or work!
Greenserve holds many accreditations including Grate Products Certified Healthy Basements Contractor, Building Performance Analyst Certification, EPA Lead Safe Certification, North Carolina HVAC license, and we are also a Duke Energy Smart Saver trade ally. We have quickly earned a reputation for quality in our area and we look forward to showing you that it is well deserved! We will gladly provide any references to ease your mind.
If you’d like to know more about how Greenserve can waterproof your basement, call us at (980) 432-0042 for a Free Estimate!