The Leaking Basement

Living room flooding with water

Water belongs in many places, but your basement isn’t one of them. Nevertheless, like many things in life you need to expect the unexpected. If or when your basement does decide to mimic a swimming pool, as a homeowner it’s important to understand how water made its way into your basement. When determining the root of the problem there are typically two factors:

1. Causes of leaks
2. Sources of leaks

When looking at the causes of leaks, typically it’s a natural occurrence. By natural we mean anything that occurs outside of the home. Let’s take a look at what can cause leaks.


Soil inevitably surrounds the foundation of your home. When you add water to the equation, together they have the ability to create hydrostatic and lateral pressure.

Hydrostatic pressure occurs when water finds its way into your home from beneath your foundation.

Lateral pressure occurs when water encounters soil that surrounds your home. When the soil expands it creates pressure against your foundation causing cracks to relieve this pressure.

Common Solution:  Dig out compacted dirt and replace with gravel that allows water to flow down to the weeping tile.

If your problem is more severe, below are other options you can consider.

Window Wells

Window wells can also contribute to the cause of your basement leaking. If the window well was not installed properly, the drain is clogged or the gravel doesn’t allow for proper drainage it could be the reason for water finding its way into your basement.

If you see soil and water lines on the foundation underneath the basement window this can be a clear indication that water is unable to drain adequately. 

Common Solution: If this is the culprit then you will need to replace the window well or install a working drain pipe and weeping solution.

Poor Drainage

If your home was constructed with a poor drainage system and water consistently flows towards your house, rather than away from it, it’s likely that the entry-point is above the basement wall.

Although this problem is commonly found in older homes, its possible that newer homes are encountering the same issue.

Common Solution: Sometimes the quickest way to solve this problem is by taking a look at your gutter. The poor drainage could be a result of your downspouts being too short or not being positioned away from your home. By simply extending the length of your downspout or directing it away from your home you can prevent rain water from draining over your basement wall.

Also, check the grade around your home. Is it sloping towards your home allowing water to sit against the foundation or taking it away.

When determining the source, as a homeowner its important to find where the water is originating from. Typically, any cracks or openings found in your foundation are the source of how water entered your basement.

Below is a list of common sources for basement leaks:

Tie Rod Holes

When your home is being constructed, 5/8 steel roads are used to hold and stabilize the materials in the foundation. Once your foundation is complete, the rods are removed leaving “rod holes.”  Water has the ability to find its way into these holes and into your basement.

Honeycomb Leakage

Like its name, these types of holes resemble a honeycomb. The holes are created by small air pockets or poorly mixed concrete and give water a pathway into your basement.

                Note: If your foundation experiences a honeycomb leak, not to worry because it is an easy fix and can be sealed quickly.

Wall Cracks

One of the more serious problems are cracks in your basement wall. Unfortunately, sealing the crack will not solve the problem. Becoming aware of what caused the crack is necessary so this problem doesn’t progress in the future. 

Generally, pressure in your basement walls force the foundation to crack. As previously discussed, lateral pressure is caused by a pool of water and wet dirt resting against your basement wall.  Overtime, the water looks for a place to drain, finding existing cracks or by creating their own in your foundation. 

Note: If there are cracks in your basement wall, it is extremely important to address this problem immediately. If you allow the cracks to progress it can lead to multiple cracks, erosion of your foundation and the possibility of complete structural failure of your home.

There are multiple ways homeowners can prevent ever having to encounter a wet, leaky basement. Click the link below for 7 basement waterproofing tips.