Frequently Asked Questions About Drainage

You Asked The Questions, We Give the Answers
Why does my basement leak?

There are many places and ways in which water can enter a foundation. In simple terms, your basement leaks for one (or both) of two reasons:

  • Hydrostatic pressure — water penetration up from below your basement floor. This is the result of the groundwater table rising upward.
  • Lateral pressure — water penetration through your foundation walls. This can result from water movement through natural underground veins, from poor ground drainage or downspouts that empty too close to your foundation, or from water simply building up in the hole in which your house sits.
How common is this problem?
Very common! Pillar to Post, a leading home inspection franchise, ranks wet basements as the single most common problem that its home inspectors find. You are not alone!
Why should I fix this problem?

Two simple words: home value. Studies have shown that a basement water problem can reduce that value of a home 25% or more. It is economically foolish not to waterproof because the increased value from waterproofing will definitely exceed the cost of the waterproofing. You should look at waterproofing not as an expense, but as an investment in the value of your home.

Another reason to waterproof: healthy living space. A finished basement can make a wonderful living room, home theater, exercise room, or home office. According to a Consumer Reports study, a finished basement will also significantly increase your home’s value. Your basement is probably one-third or more of the total square footage of your home — why waste it? But before investing in a finished basement, waterproofing is essential.

What causes the musty smell in my basement?
Mold! Mold thrives in damp, humid environments like basements, and airborne mold spores give off a musty, earthy smell. While a certain amount of mold is normal in almost every basement, unduly wet or damp basements (or other areas) can lead to excessive mold.
Why are there cracks in my basement walls and floor?

Cracks in your basement walls are typically a sign of settling — your foundation is moving! Cracks can pose serious short and long-term problems: in the short term, cracks can be an easy means for water entry into your basement. In the long term, cracks can compromise the structural integrity of your foundation.

Large cracks, cracks that have visibly grown over time, or bowed or buckling walls need immediate attention. The average house places over 50 tons of weight on its foundation walls, so the integrity of the walls must be maintained.

Cracks in your basement floor can be caused by settling and shifting in your foundation walls, in the footer underlying your foundation, or in the floor (or “slab”) itself. However, floor cracks are more frequently caused by hydrostatic pressure. The water pressure from below the floor must escape somewhere, so it pokes a hole or crack in your basement floor.

What is the white chalky substance on my walls?
Efflorescence. Concrete is made of three materials: stone, lime cement, and sand. Efflorescence is the chemical breakdown of the lime cement, the bonding agent that holds your walls together. The water inside of your foundation walls is slowly bleeding the lime cement out of the wall, leaving the white, chalky substance. Over time, there will be nothing to hold the wall together, resulting in cracks and foundation deterioration.
What if I intend on selling my home shortly?

All the more reason to waterproof it. If you are thinking of selling your home, and it has a leaky basement, there are 2 paths you could follow:

  • Conceal the defect and be exposed to a lawsuit when the buyer discovers his wet basement, or reveal the defect and accept a dramatically reduced price for your home.
  • Waterproof your home before putting it on the market and recoup the cost of the waterproofing (and possibly more) when you sell it. The Home Pros guarantees the help you need to assure the success of this strategy.
Will my home really be damaged if I don't fix the problem?

Over time, yes. Given enough time, water can do serious structural damage to your foundation walls, not to mention make your basement a damp, unpleasant place to live in.

This is particularly true if you live in a climate where winter temperatures often dip below freezing. During winter, water inside your foundation walls will freeze and expand, which will accelerate the cracking and deterioration process, costing you more expense in the end.

How do I begin to tackle the problem?

There are many options on the market for fixing a basement water problem. Most of them don’t work. The place to begin is with a professional who will diagnose your problem and recommend the right solution.

In most situations, re and re of foundation drainage to meet with building code standards is best way to stop all sources of water entry. However, every basement is different, and you should be wary of companies that offer a “one size fits all” solution.

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