Do you have water in your basement? The good news is you are not alone. The bad news is that standing water can lead to a whole array of other, humidity-related issues.
Since there are multiple ways water can end up in your basement, correctly diagnosing the problem is the key to fixing it properly. Here at Foundation Systems of Michigan, we offer various waterproofing solutions that are reliable, durable, and will surely keep your basement dry.
Signs of Water in Your Basement
Detecting basement water leakage on time and addressing this problem as soon as it arises is in your best interest. Here are telltale signs that water is frequently present in your basement:
These white or grayish stains on brick or concrete are actually mineral deposits. They occur when water seeps through masonry material, carrying dissolved salts with it on its way to the surface. When water evaporates, those salts are left on the surface, creating efflorescence. While efflorescence itself is rather harmless, it is a sign that water is seeping through your basement floor or walls.
Mold and Mildew
Mold only thrives in a damp environment, so if you notice it in your basement, it is a telltale sign that this area has been exposed to moisture.
If you have any metal surfaces in your basement, keep your eyes on the rust. This reddish layer of iron oxide will only occur if your metal surfaces have been in contact with high moisture levels.
Wet or Rotting Wood
Wood rot can be dangerous because it makes wood weak. If your structural beams begin to rot and decay, your home’s structural stability can become compromised. Wood rot only occurs when this material has been exposed to moisture, so it is a clear sign that your basement is leaking.
Next time you go down to your basement, pay attention to discoloration on floors. This can be a sign of past water presence.
Wall cracks are not technically a sign that you have water in your basement, but they are a welcome mat for possible leaks. If you do not fix those cracks, you will surely have water in your basement in the near future.
Why Does Water Enter Your Basement?
If you have determined that there is water in your basement, you are probably wondering how this happened. Several factors can cause standing water in your basement.
Broken or Leaky Pipes
Depending on the type of damage, broken pipes can flood your basement in a matter of minutes, or, if just a minor leak is in question, slowly make your basement wet. Either way, if this type of damage goes unnoticed for a while, it can have serious consequences.
After heavy rain in Michigan or snowmelt large volumes of water are absorbed into the ground. When the soil becomes oversaturated, the water table begins to rise and hydrostatic pressure increases. Since water has to go somewhere, it will look for the path of least resistance and find a way into your basement.
This is why it is important to have a good drainage system. Make sure your yard has a positive grade. It needs to be sloped away from your home, so it directs water away from your property, not toward it. Otherwise, rainwater will pool around your home, soaking the ground around your foundation and increasing hydrostatic pressure. The same thing will happen if your gutters malfunction. If they leak, all the rainwater that ended up on your roof will end up next to your home’s perimeter.
If you have open floor drains in your basement and your sewer lines become clogged, water will back up and spill into your basement.
Sump Pump Failure
A sump pump is a device that can pump out large amounts of water in a short amount of time. It will keep your basement safe from flooding issues. However, if you notice water in your basement, there is a problem with your pump which you need to address as quickly as possible.
Water Heater Failure
Most water heaters last up to twelve years. Since they hold about 50 gallons of water, if they break, they can lead to major damage.
Window Well Leakage
Most basements have windows that allow light and air into this area. Unfortunately, during heavy storms water can collect within the window well, slowly building pressure that will eventually cause seepage through the gaps around the window.
Water in Your Basement
When you notice that there is standing water in your basement, you probably want to clean up that mess as quickly as possible. However, grabbing your mop and a bucket is sometimes not enough. Here are several steps you might need to take if you want to ensure that your basement is clean, dry, and healthy.
Put Your Safety First
If there are just several puddles in your basement, you can remove the excess water with your mop. However, if water has spread wall to wall and completely flooded your basement, the first thing you need to do is to pay attention to the level of water. Has floodwater covered your electric outlets? If so, you will need to cut the power off in this part of the house.
In case the main switch is located across the basement and you cannot reach it without stepping into the water, you need to call professionals to help you. Do not under any circumstances get into that water. The electrical current may be running through it, and if this is the case, you will get hurt or killed.
Use a Dehumidifier
If you have found puddles in your basement, collect water with a mop or a dry/wet vacuum. Larger amounts of water can be removed with a pool pump. When all the water is out, you need to check on your things. Most homeowners use their basements for storage, so you probably have a lot of belongings down there. Anything that has been in contact with water should be taken out and thoroughly examined. You don’t want to leave moldy or rotting things in your basement, since these fungi can spread like wildfire.
Afterward, turn on a dehumidifier to completely dry out the air. If standing water was present in your basement for some time, humidity levels there are certainly high and can cause several problems. Therefore, make sure you use a dehumidifier to regulate moisture levels and keep them under control.
Sanitize Your Basement
If your basement was completely flooded, removing excess water and inspecting your things for damage won’t be enough. You will also have to sanitize this entire area and kill all the germs that have spread through your basement. Regular bleach can help you get rid of bacteria.
Instead of using metal brushes or steel wool, use standard scrubbing brushes that won’t damage the surface of the concrete. Soak them with a mixture of water and chlorine bleach and scrub the walls and the floor. Once they are dry, go over them again. Make sure to wear protective gear while you clean and throw out the clothes you have been wearing when you are done.
Having water in the basement is something that every homeowner would gladly avoid. After all, standing water can cause various problems, from health issues to structural issues. Here are several ways you can make sure this kind of problem never happens again.
Install a Sump Pump System
If you already have a sump pump and you are not happy with it, do now worry. Not all pumps are created equal, and over the last decade, they have drastically evolved. Nowadays, they are more reliable than ever, and you can forget about plastic ones that easily overheat. At Foundation Systems of Michigan, we only offer high-quality products that are designed to last. With our cast-iron/cast-aluminum Pro Series sump pumps you can rest assured that having water in your basement is a thing of the past.
Our pumps come with dual float switch protection. The float switch is extremely reliable and will not jam. Pro Series sump pumps are built to run non-stop and come with a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Install an Interior Drainage System
Investing in an exterior drainage system is not recommended if you have already moved into your home. This type of system should be installed while the house is still in construction since it involves a lot of excavation and heavy machinery. In addition, this system is prone to clogging issues, so it can let you down when you need it the most.
On the other hand, an interior drain system can be installed in just one day. Since it sits on top of the footing away from soil and roots, it won’t get clogged. At Foundation Systems of Michigan, we offer our AquaStop® Drainage System made from strong and durable materials. Instead of pooling on your basement floor, any water that seeps in through the walls or the cove joint will get directed into the sump pit. This drainage system is positioned along the basement floor and keeps the basement dry without loss of valuable space.
Keep Your Gutters in Mint Condition
Gutters are probably the most underrated part of any waterproofing system. They are simple yet highly effective and keep your home and foundation safe from water damage. Their main task is to direct rainwater away from your home, so it doesn’t pool around your home, increasing hydrostatic pressure in the soil around the foundation.
Over time, gutters can start to crack and deteriorate. They can also get damaged by nearby branches. Furthermore, gutters can get clogged with leaves, dirt, and debris. Inspecting them annually and making sure everything is in order can help you avoid a lot of expensive repairs.
Water in your basement is more than just a nuisance. It can cause a number of problems that can harm your home, your health, and your quality of life in general. Let’s take a closer look at them.
Mold and Pests
Mold thrives in places where humidity levels are very high. If you have standing water in your basement, this area will quickly become covered in mold. But why is mold such a problem? It spreads via airborne spores that can quickly contaminate the air you breathe. Inhaling them can lead to respiratory problems, especially if you already have a weakened immune system or asthma. On the other hand, if mold grows on wooden floor joists it can cause structural damage. Removing water from your basement and running a dehumidifier is your best chance against mold infestation.
Where there is mold and mildew, there are insects. They feed on these fungi, so don’t be surprised if suddenly various bugs are living in your basement. However, this is not the end of your problems. Inspects attract larger pests such as rodents. Before you know it, you will have an entire ZOO in your basement. All those pests can damage your possessions, fill your basement with droppings and make your home completely unsanitary.
Compromised Structural Integrity
Mold, pests, and increased humidity levels can damage the structure of your home. While these problems may seem minor at first, they can quickly snowball and result in expensive foundation repairs. Investing in a high-quality drainage system that will keep your foundation dry is a much more affordable option.
If your basement is moldy, full of pests, and structurally unstable, your home’s market value will drastically drop. No one wants to buy a home with foundation problems, so if you are planning to sell your house in the future, addressing these problems before you put it on the market is essential. Waterproofing your basement is the first step towards maintaining a healthy home.
How Can Water Enter a Basement?
A concrete basement seems like a pretty fortified structure that nothing can infiltrate, but that is not the case. Water can enter your basement through various openings, causing damage along the way. Let’s take a look at all the ways water can end up on your basement floor.
One way water can enter your basement is through the cracks in the floor. But how did those cracks get there? To answer this, we have to go back to the previously-mentioned hydrostatic pressure. Basement floors are about two to four inches thick, and when hydrostatic pressure increases below them, they can crack, letting water in. Also, cracks in your basement floor can be a sign of foundation settlement, which is a serious problem that can compromise your home’s structural integrity. Since you cannot figure out the cause of the cracks just by looking at them, you should contact a professional who will inspect your basement and recommend further steps.
A cove joint is that place where your basement floor meets your basement walls. During the construction of your home, contractors first built the walls on the top of the dried footing, and afterward, they poured the basement floor. Unfortunately, fresh concrete cannot bind to the dry one, so the floor and the walls never truly merge. Instead, they remain two separate elements, with a cove joint between them. When hydrostatic pressure increases, water can seep into your basement through there. So why not just seal the joint? First of all, water pressure is stronger than any sealant and water will always find a way in. Second of all, sealing this joint is not recommended since you won’t be addressing the root of the problem in this way. You need to install a proper drainage system that will prevent hydrostatic pressure from increasing.
Is your basement made of concrete blocks instead of poured concrete? If so, there is a possibility that water is coming in through the mortar joint. This is the area between concrete blocks that is filled with mortar. Since mortar is porous, water can easily seep through.
Although concrete is porous, it can usually resist water seepage. However, if it wasn’t mixed properly, porous spots can form and water can seep through.
Foundation settlement and the clay bowl effect are the two most common causes of wall cracks. Although these are serious problems that need to be addressed as quickly as possible, there is no reason to panic. With Foundation Systems of Michigan, you can relax knowing that our state-of-the-art products will permanently solve these issues and restore your home’s stability. However, until this problem is solved, water will continue to seep in through your basement wall cracks.
If water is coming into your basement through a window well, you need to see whether this well has a drain. If not, you need to install one that will direct water to a drain tile. If you already have a drain, it may be clogged or needs to be replaced.
Are you sick and tired of finding water in your basement? Are you ready to put this problem behind you once and for all? Then contact professionals at Foundation Systems of Michigan and schedule a free inspection. Our friendly, skilled, and experienced team, our desire to help our customers, and our variety of long-term financing options are the reasons why we have been Michigan’s most trusted foundation repair contractor for more than a decade. We proudly serve customers throughout the entire Lower Peninsula and the Eastern Upper Peninsula in Michigan, as well as in Northern Ohio and Toledo.