Originally posted 2/18/19, updated on 8/9/21
When a homeowner calls us because they have water in their basement, they are often surprised and annoyed by their situation. They say things like, “this hasn’t ever happened before,” or “I don’t understand why water is coming in, now.” We understand the frustration, and we sympathize: a wet basement is NOT the kind of surprise people like!
But we also know that most homes suffer from water intrusion at some point. Acculevel is a family-owned and operated company, specializing in foundation repairs and waterproofing. Since our start in 1996, we’ve helped more than 30,000 homeowners repair their homes and restore their peace of mind.
In this article, we’re going to help you troubleshoot some potential flooding causes, explain the symptoms that show damage is actively occurring, and give you some tips on how to hire a pro if you need one.
Start by Troubleshooting Your Home’s Exterior
Before you stress about having to make (and fund!) major home repairs, let’s evaluate the perimeter of your home for potential causes.
Guttering: When did you last clean the gutters around your home? Are there sections that are damaged or missing? Rainwater that collects next to your home can damage your foundation.
Downspouts: Like your guttering, downspouts that are damaged or too close to your home can create problems. We recommend that you have your downspouts extended at least ten feet from your house. If you are a DIY fan, this is something you can do yourself. We have an article (with video demo) that gives you step-by-step instructions on how to extend a downspout.
This photo was taken by an Acculevel crew member, while installing a downspout extension at a customer’s home.
Landscaping: Evaluate your planters, borders, and decor with a critical eye. Is there anything close to your home that could be collecting and directing water towards your foundation? Fountains and bird baths are lovely features, but not something you want close to your foundation. Also keep an eye out for leaky kiddie pools, dripping outdoor spigots, or other child-related structures. (A friend’s daredevil child once built a skateboard ramp, then went inside when it started to rain. The slope of the ramp sent rainwater directly into the garage.)
Grading: Your yard should not be completely flat. The ground should have a gentle slope leading down from the house into the yard. This is called “grading” and it helps water naturally flow away from your home. If your grading has flattened out in places, or fallen around your home, you should probably work with a landscaping company to get this resolved. You may need to bring in a substantial amount of soil to create the needed slope.
When Do You Need a Pro to Evaluate Your Wet Basement?
If you’ve done the troubleshooting and haven’t found the source of your water intrusion, it’s time to call a professional. When your home was built, the construction team installed exterior drainage around the outside perimeter of your home. These systems are not designed to be permanent; they usually last 15-25 years, depending on rainfall and other seasonal factors. In this short video, Sales Director Nolan Beery explains why exterior drainage systems fail:
At Acculevel, we recommend installing a new interior water drainage system instead of replacing your existing exterior system. There are several reasons for this- interior drainage lasts much longer, faster to install, and has minimal impact on your landscaping. But for many homeowners, the most significant factor is that interior drainage is much less expensive.
Have More Questions About Waterproofing?
Please take advantage of our in-depth guide to basement waterproofing. This guide is designed to be an educational resource for homeowners. We encourage you to bookmark it for future reference, read the entire guide, or go directly to the section that interests you.
Interior waterproofing is not an area for DIY experimentation. Typically, homeowners don’t have the training and expertise to safely break the concrete perimeter of their basement floor and install drainage. There is a very real possibility that an amateur will damage your foundation, or the footers that support your foundation.
You should find a reputable, high quality contractor in your area. Verify that they are insured and accredited by the Better Business Bureau. Read reviews of their business on Yelp, Google, Facebook, Home Advisor, etc. Use Questions to Ask A Contractor, a checklist of the topics you should cover with a contractor before signing an agreement with anyone.
If you live in Indiana or the surrounding areas, contact Acculevel. Our project managers perform free in-home inspections, and will work with you to address your concerns and preferred outcomes. It’s our goal to provide whole-home solutions that help you maintain your home in its optimal condition for years to come.