1Why do basements leak?
There is a multitude of reasons why basement leak. These include:
- Malfunctioning or lack of footer tiles.
- Cracks in the walls or floor that allow water through.
- Hydrostatic pressure building up under the floor or upon the walls.
- Underground springs.
- High humidity that causes condensation (see below).
- Poor sealant on the outside walls or no sealant on the outside walls.
- Improperly installed waterproofing.
- Leaks from sweating pipes in the basement.
- Leaks through basement windows.
- Water that slips behind siding and runs down through the inside of the wall and looks like a basement leak.
2I have a crawlspace. Am I safe from leaks or problems?
Sorry, no. A crawl space isn't as deep as a basement so that can help. But crawlspaces leak, get moldy and have problems just like basements. And since they hold up the house, just like a basement does, you need to resolve those problems if they arise.
3 My walls get wet when it's very hot. What's the problem?
It could be condensation rather than leaking. When it gets very humid outside, basements can sweat because of temperature differences. It happens to cold water pipes, but can also happen on walls and floors in the basement or crawl space.
4It only leaks in one area. Can I just fix that?
Sure, you could and in rare circumstances it might even work. But think about it this way: water follows the path of least resistance. If there's water pushing in and you fix that one spot, where do you think the water (it's still there!) will go next? Right, to the next most convenient place to enter. We've seen homeowners spend massive amounts of money repeatedly trying to chase a small leak around the foundation and never addressing the real issue – that it's time for waterproofing repairs. It's usually more cost efficient to fix the source of the problem right from the get-go.
5A waterproofer told us that outside work isn't really necessary. Is that true?
Probably not. Some contractors might tell you that because all they do is interior work. They want you to believe that sealing cracks on the outside of the wall is unnecessary. But does that sound reasonable? Look at the picture to the left. This house has open cores all around and no interior system would completely resolve this problem. You might not see any water, but you would still have water, dirt, air and bugs coming into the walls.
Your best bet? Find SME&T who can diagnose your particular situation and provide you with a complete waterproofing solution that will work for your home.
6I have mold on the walls. Should this concern me?
You bet! This could indicate either moisture or water problems. At the very least, mold is a potential health hazard that is growing in importance these days as scientists find out more about its effects on humans.
7It only leaks after a heavy rain. Can I use a waterproofing paint to fix it?
No! Waterproofing paints are designed to seal walls to prevent moisture from passing through. Moisture is completely different than water seepage. Look at it this way: if you had a leak in your roof and you used waterproofing paint on the ceiling to stop the leak, would the roof be fixed even if it stopped leaking? The answer, of course, is no. You'd still have to have the roof fixed properly even though the water may be stopped for a while.
It's the same with waterproofing basements. You might be able to find a paint that will stop it temporarily but the water is still there pushing on the wall or floor. It won't go away all by itself. You need to find a way to remove the water because it's not supposed to be there.
8My house is 20 years old. Why is it starting to leak now?
As homes age, they need maintenance and repairs. It is considered normal to re-do your roof after 10 – 15 years. You paint and replace appliances because they wear out over time. The same goes for foundations. The original tiles fail or become clogged, or the sealant that was used wears out and begins to crack. Conditions in the ground also may have changed the way water is flowing and the original system may not be equipped to deal with that. Foundation repair is considered part of a home's normal maintenance as it ages.