Damp or wet basement space is problematic for homes of all ages. Persistent moisture will lead to mold, mildew and even structural damage inside the house. Basement waterproofing is a great way to protect your home from these hazards, but sometimes you'll need to deal with the water at its source before the waterproofing treatment will be effective. Here's a look at some of the external problems that could be contributing to your basement leaks.
Check the Property Grading Along the Foundation
One of the reasons that older homes may be more prone to wet basement problems is because of soil settling. Any soil that was back-filled up against the home's foundation during the initial construction can settle more than the solid, unaffected soil further out away from the structure. When that material settles, it can lead to low spots along the edge of the house.
When you have low spots in the soil along your home's foundation, it will encourage water to run its natural course and seek the lowest point. This often means water pooling up along the foundation walls and seeping into the basement.
To identify this type of problem, walk around the outer perimeter of your home, looking at the foundation. Be attentive to detail, checking the grade of the soil. It should slope away from your basement, and then fall away by several degrees of slope several feet from the house.
If you find that the ground around the outside of the foundation, you'll want to reach out to a landscaper who can help you re-grade the area and ensure proper drainage.
Inspect the Patio for Leveling Issues
Patios are a common culprit for basement water leaks as well. If your patio is not level and its angle leans toward your house, any rain or other water falling on the patio will drain back toward your house. This results in water pooling beneath the patio, along the foundation.
The most common cause for this type of leveling issue is if the yard where the outer edge of the patio is built on ground that sits at a slightly higher elevation than your foundation. In addition to your basement waterproofing options, you should adjust the patio's level so that it drains away from the house. This may mean digging out some ground along the outer edge of the patio or boosting the edge of the patio near the door.
Monitor Your Roof Downspouts
Your roof downspouts can be one of the biggest hazards to your basement. If the downspout is not angled properly, the discharge of rainwater could create a flood of large volumes of water against your home's foundation.
Downspouts will gather and distribute rain from your roof, and when the water flows out along each corner of the building, it is likely to pool. The soil will be saturated, and when it reaches the basement walls, you'll have a flooding problem on your hands.
Make sure that your downspouts are routing the water far enough from your home that the water won't pool by the foundation. You may need to add an additional section of drainage pipe to ensure that this happens. The extensions will protect your foundation, but you also need to make sure that the gutters routing the water to the downspouts stay clear of debris.
Look for Runoff from Neighboring Properties
If your home is on a small lot and your neighbors are close, you may have water draining onto your property from one of your neighbors. Locate the water pool around your foundation, and then follow it to its source. It may be inadvertently flowing from a lengthy downspout on your neighbor's home. If this is the problem, you can ease the water flow with a French drain.
As you can see, many of the potential hazards that threaten your basement's dry, cozy nature actually come from outside. By familiarizing yourself with these hazards, you can potentially avoid the risk of water damage, mold or mildew growth.