Waterproofing By Degrees: Tips To Help Homeowners Deal With Every Level Of Basement Water Infiltration

14 November 2016
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Discovering that water has infiltrated a home's basement is something that every homeowner dreads. Wet basements are more than inconvenient for the family that lives there—this type of moisture can affect the air quality of the home, allow mold and mildew to flourish, and create or exacerbate many health problems for the occupants, especially those of a respiratory nature. Whether you are dealing with constant water infiltration issues or experience less frequent problems, ridding your home of this type of unhealthy moisture will help to ensure your family a healthy living space and also help to protect the value of the house by preventing damage to the structure, materials, and contents within. 

Infrequent water infiltration issues associated with very heavy rainfall 

If water infiltration into your basement only occurs on rare occasions, such as during very heavy rainfall, it may be due to landscaping issues around your home that impact drainage. Homes with landscaping that slopes toward the home, instead of away, often experience moisture problems when the rainfall amount is too much for the soil to absorb, leaving the water to pool against the home. 

To cure this type of water infiltration issue, homeowners can try: 

  • changing the landscaping to ensure that all contoured or sloped areas work to direct water away from the home
  • installing a drain system around the exterior of the basement to handle excessive rainfall
  • having the exterior walls of the basement professionally waterproofed to help them withstand this type of infrequent, but problematic water infiltration 

Periodic water infiltration issues associated with normal rainfall or melting ice and snow 

In many cases, basement water infiltration that occurs with every rainfall or every time snow and ice melts is related to issues with the home's guttering system. To determine if your guttering might be causing your problems, determine if the moist or wet areas in your basement are located in the same general area as downspouts for your gutters by noting the areas that are wet and then going outside to see if a downspout is located in that general area.

When guttering downspouts improperly direct rainwater or melting snow and ice along exterior basement walls, instead of directing it outward away from them, this moisture can seep through concrete and enter the basement. Homeowners can often solve this type of water infiltration issue simply by ensuring that their guttering is in good condition and adding extenders to the downspouts that will direct water several feet away from the home. 

Constant moisture issues, such as those associated with groundwater levels

A basement that stays uncomfortably moist or even wet all the time is likely being impacted by the moisture levels in the soil surrounding the exterior basement walls. This is especially problematic for homes that were constructed several decades ago when concrete formulas were not as advanced as the modern ones in use today or when homes are located in areas known to have higher than average groundwater levels.

If the moisture is only slight and never goes beyond dampness on walls or floors, homeowners may be able to cure the problem and protect the air quality of the home through the use of dehumidifiers.

These work by removing much of the moisture from the air to reduce the overall humidity in the space and make it feel more comfortable for the occupants. Slight moisture issues can also sometimes be improved by adding better air circulation to the space, through installing vents and fans and opening exterior windows on days when the outdoor air is dryer than the interior air. 

If you find that you are experiencing problems with water infiltration in your home's basement that you cannot solve with the ideas outlined here, it is important to take steps to protect your family's health by having your basement inspected by a basement waterproofing expert as soon as possible.