Whether you purchase a mansion or one-bedroom bungalow when a house is built the base is laid the same – foundation and then floor — making every homeowner as susceptible as the next to water damage. Expert engineer Vincent Boccia of Boccia Inc., a waterproofing and masonry company in New York, breaks down the two most common causes of basement leaks and how to alleviate the problems. Knowing where to check for water can prevent the damage of a persistent leak which may lead to mold, cracks and the overall detraction of a structure.
When a house is built, there is always going to be a seam between the concrete walls and the concrete floor. This seam is where most of your water problems are going to begin because although the wall and floor may meet properly, they are not creating a waterproof-tight seal. Although not intentional, this space is actually a lot like a crack. Therefore, once the ground begins to become saturated, the water will seep through this space because it is the lowest point in your basement. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no way to access this joint from the outside of the home and the only long lasting solution would be to hire a specialist to install a sub-floor drainage system.
What is a sub-floor drainage system?
In essence, a sub-floor drainage system requires that the floor be removed in order for tubing to be installed along the parameter of the basement. Once in place, the tubing is connected to a sump pump which acts much like a water vacuum, vacuuming out water and moisture before it has the opportunity to access the basement walls and floors. Typically the process can run anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000 depending on the severity of the issue and the size of the basement.
The second spot you will see leakage is in foundation cracks, because after all concrete cracks. Even the smallest cracks in a foundation will become susceptible to water intrusion over time depending on its location. If the area that the home is located on has poor draining soils or you experience long bouts of heavy rain, water will build behind the wall and start to permeate through the cracks. This is why some cracks may leak and some may not. But, it is always your safest bet to have the cracks treated or at the very least inspected. Unlike cracks between the floor and walls, this can be fixed through outside waterproofing.
During the process, an exterior multi-layer waterproof membrane will be placed on the wall. While a crack may only be three inches, it is generally recommended that the membrane be placed on a much larger portion of the wall to ensure that the crack does not worsen and to protect surrounding areas.
While in most cases water leaks are not detected until cracks are visibly seen or water piles up in the basement, it is always the safest option to have your basement waterproofed regardless. This is particularly beneficial to anyone planning of finishing their basement. Just because water leaks are not an issue now, who’s to say that in 15 years you may not begin to see water building up? Once a basement is furnished and walls and carpeting have been installed, waterproofing may begin to become more costly because of the harmful mold that can grow under carpets and between walls, not to mention the costs of having to replace any damaged furniture.