Causes of Leaky Basements

A finished basement is a great investment for nearly every Iowa home. It adds valuable living space, which can be used as a game room, home office, study, home library, extra bedroom or even as a home theater. A finished basement also has the ability to dramatically increase your home's resale value, as well as its curb appeal.

The Clay Bowl Effect

When your home was built, a hole was excavated into very hard, virgin soil to accommodate the basement. The ground never "forgets" this hole. Thus, whenever the ground becomes saturated, water will always seek to fill this hole. This water creates pressure around your walls and floor that allows for seepage opportunities at any cracks or joints. This water pressure will occur during prolonged heavy rains, despite your best efforts to keep ground water away from your home. That is why downspout extensions, proper grading, caulking driveway cracks and even adding room addition slabs may mitigate the amount of seepage you receive, but it won't completely solve the problem.

Bad Basement

Three Types of Leaks

Locating where water is entering your home is key to choosing the appropriate solution, so mark the source whenever the seepage is active.

Through the Walls

The most common basement leak is due to seepage through wall cracks. These cracks will continue to deteriorate, and the leak will get worse over time. Other possible wall leaks are tie rod ends, honeycombed concrete and pipe penetrations.

water seeping into walls diagram

Through the Floor or Floor/Wall Joint

Most modern homes are built with a drain tile system around the footings to keep water from creating pressure against the floor or cove area (floor/wall joint). Some drain tiles run into the sump pump, while others run to the city storm sewer system. If seepage occurs in this area, check your pump's operation first. If that is working normally, then your drain tile is not. You should consider using a modern battery backup for your sump pump system.

Wet Basement

Over The Top of The Wall

Water entering at the top of the wall, between the concrete and wooden sill plate, can be caused by two things: 

The soil grade has been built up outside the home, higher than the concrete. Homeowners, in their efforts to keep water away from the foundation, build the dirt level higher than the concrete wall, ironically creating a seepage problem through the below-grade brick or siding.

There is an above-grade penetration of water due to a caulking or tuck-pointing issue. Any water that penetrates the veneer of the house will run down the back side of the siding and appear at the sill-plate juncture in the basement. 

The surest way to verify which of these two "spillover" problems you have is to water test by running a hose on the ground on a dry day. If water comes in, it is a below-grade problem. If water does not come in, then it is an above-grade problem, which will require caulking, tuckpointing or possibly roofing repairs. Anchored Walls can help you conduct this test, if you need assistance.

A basement is a valuable part of your home and is designed to be dry, usable space, whether as a finished recreation room, a workshop or simply a safe storage area. Once a leak occurs, its usefulness and value is very limited. Fortunately, permanent solutions are available for all seepage problems. Basement leaks need to be repaired immediately to avoid further problems and repair costs. At Anchored Walls, we make having a dry basement as easy as picking up the phone.

Top of Sil Plate

Hydrostatic Pressure

Wet and leaky basements are prone to flooding and water damage. This is especially a concern for older homes in Iowa that haven't been properly waterproofed. As homes age, the original waterproofing systems become much less effective, and excess moisture begins to damage basement floors and walls. However, leaky basements aren't limited to older homes; newly constructed homes can also have moisture issues.

Regardless of how good your leaky basement looks now, with enough time, the excess moisture around your home will start to eat away at your basement walls and floor. Due to the fact that older homes were typically waterproofed using methods that are now outdated and ineffective, you might need to install a newer basement waterproofing system.‍

Most basement and foundation water damage is caused from hydrostatic pressure. Hydrostatic pressure occurs when the soil around and beneath your home gets saturated with excess moisture from rain, melting snow, over-watering or condensation from A/C units. This water puts pressure against the walls of your basement and will even start to put force against your basement flooring. With continuous hydrostatic pressure over many years, your walls and floors can start to crack and rot. Hydrostatic pressure can be a constant strain on your walls and floor, if your basement is routinely flooded.

Hydrostatic Pressure

Soil Settlement

In many homes, soil settlement or the weakening of your foundation base is either caused from excess moisture in your clay soil or from water leakage. Foundation repair can be done with the help of our foundation repair specialists in Iowa.

Water damage and leaky basements are caused by various things, including weather events, cracks in plumbing equipment, blockages in drains and toilets, weakening of concrete basements, and improper functioning of a/c systems and other appliances. All these factors may lead to water damage, which will leave you with a damaged and leaky basement.

Water damage affects indoor air quality, as well. A leaky, damp basement acts as a breeding ground for molds. Mold typically grows on wood, ceiling tiles, wallpaper and/or insulation. To control mold growth, Anchored Walls needs to control the amount of moisture in your home.

Improper Yard Drainage

Many homeowners are not concerned about proper yard drainage, until it’s too late. Water will always follow the path of least resistance, and when a property doesn't have proper drainage, water will pool up in low-lying areas, seep into the ground and eventually into your basement. Suitable slopes and drains on your property are necessary to direct water runoff. 

The two categories of water found on a yard are surface and subsurface. Subsurface water is located below the immediate layer of topsoil, which cannot travel any lower due to the rigidness of the soil beneath it. Surface water includes rainfall and over-watering, which can be caused by sprinkler systems.

Water Pooling
Bowed Wall Crack from side

Basement Wall Cracks

So, you've noticed a tiny crack in your basement wall. While you may think this is not a huge deal, it can unfortunately be a much larger problem than it appears. A basement wall crack may appear small on the inside of your home, but it can actually be much larger on the outside. 

Water seeps in through this large exterior crack and into your basement through the smaller crack. If left untreated, this tiny crack will begin to grow. If you live on a lot with a lot of clay soil, the pressure exerted on a small crack can cause it to grow even quicker. A leaky basement, if not fixed with a basement waterproofing system, will lead to a plethora of repair costs and headaches in the future.

Our basement waterproofing experts in Iowa can fix basement cracks quickly and efficiently. All basement wall cracks need to be evaluated, no matter how much of a concern you think they may be. If left untreated, these cracks may lead to serious structural problems for your home and dangerous living conditions for your family.