Why Basements Often Leak, and How Clever Homeowners Can Stop It

February 17, 2023

If you own a home, you may have a basement. In some parts of the country, people call it a cellar. Some areas don’t feature basements or cellars, but many regions have them standard.

If you have a property with a basement, you can finish it, meaning you’ll install carpeting and use the space down there regularly. You might put in a rumpus room, a den, or create a child’s bedroom or a guest room. You may also leave the basement unfinished and have your washer and dryer down there.

Whether you finish the basement or not, you should know that many basements experience leaks at some point. We’ll discuss why basements leak right now. We’ll also go over how you can often stop those leaks.

How Many Basements Experience Leaks?

49 out of 50 basements experience water leakage, which means it happens with the overwhelming majority of them at some point. With 98% basement leakage, it’s almost inevitable.

These leaks can damage electrical components. They can cause mold growth. If mold grows, it can harm humans and pets.

Mold starts as spores, which resemble dust. The mold grows within 1-2 days, and by that point, it’s a health risk. If you breathe in the spores, you might cough, sneeze, have itchy eyes, and experience other allergy symptoms. Long-term exposure can cause serious health problems.

Why Do Basements Leak?

Many basements leak for a simple reason. It’s because they are below ground level. If you consider this for a moment, you’ll see that it makes perfect sense.

Water flows down due to gravity. Water in a high place will keep moving downhill until it settles and pools where there’s nowhere further that it can go.

Basements are below a home’s ground level, so they’re below the house’s foundation. If you have a leak anywhere at ground level or above that can access the basement, that’s where the water will go. It has no choice. It is just obeying gravity’s pull.

Say you have a leak that starts in your wall, for instance. It will naturally seek out the basement. If something absorbent stops the water before it gets there, you won’t have any basement flooding or damage. You must repair the damage to your walls, though. You might hear the water leaking, or maybe you will notice some discoloration.

How Can You Stop Basement Leaks?

It is virtually impossible to stop every single basement leak that could ever occur. However, you can take a common-sense approach as a homeowner that should help reduce basement water leakage.

First, you can conduct a home inspection before you buy the property. When you do, the inspector will report any possible plumbing issues or other problems that might cause water leakage below ground level.

You can keep your gutters in good repair. You can also repair any plumbing issues that arise. You can look around the home’s exterior for any crevices or cracks that could admit moisture. That’s how you stop many leaks before they become an issue.

Install a Sump Pump

You can also install a sump pump if you have a basement that floods regularly. Sometimes, especially if you have an older house, you can look at your gutters and plumbing, but you know some basement water leakage will occur if you get heavy rainfall, no matter what.

If that’s true, you probably won’t finish the basement. Installing expensive carpeting or wood paneling makes little sense if you know the basement floods whenever it rains steadily for a few hours.

Installing a sump pump can’t usually eliminate all basement flooding, but it can improve it quite a bit in many instances. When you have a plumber install a sump pump, you can divert most rainwater out of the basement and into your side yard or backyard. You might also dig a dry well and have the water run into it if you don’t want a flooded yard when it rains.

Basements with poured concrete foundations should do well with a sump pump. You jackhammer a spot for the pump, install it, and you should see much less standing water down there during heavy rain storms. That way, the water will not damage your furnace or anything else you’ve stored there.

You must still tell the buyer if you sell the house that the basement floods, but you can say it’s nowhere near as bad because you put in the sump pump.


Carlos Diaz
I believe in making the impossible possible because there’s no fun in giving up. Travel, design, fashion and current trends in the field of industrial construction are topics that I enjoy writing about.

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