How Can You Tell if You Have a Wet Basement?

Don’t kid yourself – a flooded basement is not the only way that water can cause damage to your home. In fact, the persistent, comparatively small amounts of water can gradually erode your foundation and create a costly repair situation.

It’s important to stress here that a “dry” basement when you purchase a home can deteriorate over time without the proper care and attention in diverting water and run off away from your home’s foundation. If you’re diligent with this you have a chance at winning the water war. However, if you’ve gotten over-confident and let things slide a bit, consult the following list for signs that water is not only penetrating but potentially compromising the integrity of your property.

  • WATER STAINS ALONG WALLS OR FLOOR

    This could be caused by something as simple as an overflowing laundry tub or it could be a result of water seeping in through basement windows, the walls, or the floor. Check for potential points of entry near the point of the stain, but keep in mind that water travels to the lowest point. It may have originated across the room if your floor is uneven.

  • MUSTY ODOR OR DAMP SMELL

    Excess moisture in a basement can cause an unmistakable smell. It could be standing water or it could be that your carpets, insulation, or drywall have been saturated with water at some point in time.

  • MOLD

    Mold has spores that float in the air, like pollen, and can trigger allergies and asthma attacks. If your family is getting sick often, check for visual signs of mold in your basement. Mold can take on many colours. It could be colored black, brown, yellow or green, and you won’t know for certain if it’s mold without testing it.

  • EFFLORESCENCE

    A white or light gray ring that marks the edges of the pooling of water is left behind after water has receded or evaporated. It is the salt deposits that create this marking and can sparkle if enough salt is left behind.

  • SPALLING

    When water gets inside the surface of concrete, brick or stone, salt deposits from the water cause the surface to flake away, peel, or pop off. If you have carpets sitting directly on your concrete in the basement, check for signs of lifting and inspect underneath for concrete degradation.

  • WET FLOORS

    Wet floors can be a result of ground water seepage coming up through the foundation or a faulty sump pump. It is important to determine the source of the wetness as ground water seepage can degrade your foundation’s structural integrity. If you have a finished basement, check your carpet for wet/dark spots and peeling away from the subfloor. If it’s laminate or engineered hardwood, check for buckling between the planks.

  • EXCESSIVE CONDENSATION ON WALLS OR WINDOWS

    This does not necessarily mean that water is penetrating, but more likely that there are issues with ventilation and insulation. Untreated condensation problems can lead to subsequent problems.

  • BASEMENT WINDOWS BUCKLING OR PAINT FLAKING

    Signs that water is coming in through the seals of the basement windows. Caulking is not the answer here. You need to first address why the water is coming against the windows on the outside and then repair the windows.

  • RUST

    Rust around pipes and metal fixtures could be due to interior water leaks, but it’s a good practice to note the damage and track the source.

  • CONCENTRATED DARK SPOT AT BASE OF CONCRETE BLOCK WALLS

    This can indicate pooling of water. Check the length and height of the wall for any holes or gaps in the structure.

  • CRACKS IN THE WALL

    Cracks can mean a shift in the foundation. Not all cracks are of the same intensity, so please have any cracks discovered inspected by a professional.

After exploring this list, you may have decided that you have a wet basement. Take the time to address any external fixes of diverting water away from your foundation, such as extending downspouts, inspecting and repairing rain gutters, and assessing the grade of your property. If the condition persists after that, it may be an indication of a poor drainage system.

Note: The best times to inspect for water penetration in the Edmonton climate are during heavy rain falls and during the thaw after our long winter months. Water levels are higher at that time and it’s easier to see immediate effects.

Canuck Plumbing is ready, willing, and able to help you conquer your water issues.

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