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I have a basement leak!
As a professional and trusted basement technician at DrainCom for the last 20 years I have encountered many reasons for homes to produce and develop basement leaks.
How do you know if you have a leak?
Naturally the first thought anyone might have is this is a plumbing issue…and you would be right to make this assumption first. You need to have your plumbing inspected, to at least eliminate this issue. The reason you go for plumbing first is this would be the ‘worst case’ scenario, there may be an active leak at possibly high pressure getting into your house (as opposed to other sources – storms, foundation cracks, etc. A good example of a true plumbing issue (and not a basement waterproofing problem)….is if water is dripping through the ceiling in the living room on the ground floor, or if you see the water in the basement but only when the toilet upstairs is flushed, then definitely again you’ll need a plumber.
At DrainCom performing basement waterproofing inspections in Toronto and GTA we use infrared cameras and moisture detectors. Sometimes the place where the basement is leaking is obvious, but if the basement is finished and basement walls are covered it is not easy to find the problem, in those cases those devices become useful.
Leaks in your basement does not necessarily mean a leaking basement
Simple gravity is the reason you will find rainwater at its final, inevitable destination – your basement. Gravity can be especially aggravating during heavy rains, building envelope leaks and basement leaks. This will be even more relevant when you consider you main floor kitchen sink plumbing is leaking into the cabinets beneath. One of or other you can count on this ending up in your basement.
Heavy rains will stress a vulnerable roof and eventually it will leak. Rain over the years pounding against your windows, doors, and the brick veneer or siding can evntually cause damage. Heavy rains as discussed can cause your eavestroughs to spill over the side and your downspouts to discharge potentially hundreds of gallons of water in a very short period of time. Backyard floods can lead to hydrostatic pressure against your foundation walls and cause the water table to rise. Heavy rains can overload the neighbourhood storm sewer system and cause your basement floor drain to back up.
Of course if during a thunderstorm you can see water coming through a crack in a foundation, then you likely have a basement leak. Finished basements can make this determination more difficult and will require more investigation.
How eavestroughs and downspouts cause basement leaks
Homeowners can report that they have a leaky basement as a result of water pouring over the side of their eavestroughs.
Water permeates the soil along the foundation walls after water pours over the sides of an eavestrough, instead of draining via the down eaves trough portion. This can result in i increased hydrostatic pressure (water pressure against the foundation walls) as the height of the water table next to the wall increases If the foundation walls are properly waterproofed then water will not be able to enter the basement.
Downspouts, to a much greater extent than leaking eavestroughs, introduce significant hydrostatic pressure against a foundation. In spite of eavestrough leaks, a properly waterproofed foundation will not leak.
To reduce hydrostatic pressure against the foundation it is recommended that downspouts drain water 2 to 3 meters away from the house.
How do I deal with floor backed up drains?
Storm sewers below the street can become overloaded and incapable of handling all of the water entering them during heavy rain events. In this case storm sewers will use the path naturally of least resistance…and in some instances, this path of least resistance is the floor drain in your basement! Drains “backup up” through floor drains is a really unpleasant experience as you would guess. There is only one way to fix this and that is to avoid it in the first place: by installing a backwater valve in the drain pipe from your floor drain to the sewer. A backwater valve will allow water to travel from your floor drain to the storm sewer and also prevent water from flowing from the storm sewer back to your home.
Incorrect assumptions, poorly and/or quickly done inspections, lack of expertise and plumbing contractor greed are the main reasons that homeowners spend money waterproofing a basement with no serious issues. Getting a second opinion, especially when spending $1000s of dollars is never a bad idea.
How do I determine where the leak is?
Next would be the inspection of the basement walls from outside the home. Your house foundation is the most solid structure and if there are some cracks below the ground on a foundation wall they would extend above ground. Most of the cracks appear close to windows and doors, which is normally where house walls are weaker. Most of the basement leaks happen due to cracks in the foundation wall. At DrainCom we are specialists in fixing these types of problems using the latest and greatest (best) technology. We will also provide transferable life time warranty on most foundation repairs.