Can water leak up through a basement floor?
Sadly yes, water can leak up through a basement floor. Water leaking in the basement is never fun. We have had to deal with our share of wet basement floors over the years. Here is what you need to know about why water is coming up from the basement floor and what to do about it.
If your basement floor is made of concrete (as opposed to a suspended wood floor) and there are cracks in the concrete, water can find its way up through the cracks. This most commonly happens after heavy rain or a wet season or as the snow begins to melt in the spring.
The easiest way to tell if there is water coming up through the basement floor will be a puddle of water somewhere on the floor. Once you know where the water is, you can better identify the next steps to take to protect your finished basement.
If you don’t, you may find yourself needing to replace the carpet (if you do, you can use this carpet cost calculator) and other items on the floor in your basement.
The reason water is seeping through the basement floor
The biggest reason for water seeping through the basement floor is that the soil around the house has too much water in it. This can happen during long periods of rain when the ground becomes oversaturated with water. This water in the soil creates pressure on your basement wall and floor.
This water pressure (also known as hydrostatic pressure) is from the moisture in the soil that surrounds your basement. If your house is too old and doesn’t have weeping tile, then the water that is sitting around the house has nowhere to go.
Unless your basement has been properly waterproofed when it was built, that water will find a way to get in, usually through the cracks in the concrete floor of the basement or in the cracks in the foundation walls resulting in a damp basement.
How does water get into the basement?
Water will find its way in the basement through one of these 2 places.
- Basement floor cracks and foundation wall cracks ( or in the mortar cove joints).
- Joints where the concrete is poured. This can happen over time if the house’s foundation shifts, causing a gap where the basement wall meets the floor.
5 Reasons for water on the basement floor
There are a few reasons for a wet basement. It is a good idea to know these so you can eliminate the ones that don’t apply and determine if you should call a professional. Here is the answer to “Why is water coming up through the concrete floor?”
No weeping tile
Weeping tile (or drain tile) is a pipe underground that gathers up water in the soil that is around the house and redirects it to a different area. The pipe can redirect the water to the sewer, sump pit, or even into the yard.
The drain tile aims to redirect the water building up around the home and move it elsewhere. This could be the case if a window well suddenly starts to leak water when it hasn’t in the past.
If your home doesn’t have weeping tile, that water in the soil can build up and create pressure, as we mentioned earlier.
As well, inspect your gutters. If your downspouts are not leading the water away from the house, this can cause more hydrostatic pressure in the soil around your house.
This compounds the issue of water seepage through your basement floor, which likely happens every time it rains or when the snow melts.
Another reason for hydrostatic water pressure building up around the house is that there could be an issue with your grading. The grade of the area will depend on the rules of your municipality but over time; the ground can shift.
You want the ground around your house to be sloped away from the house so that any water has a chance to run off into your yard and away from your house.
Another thing that causes wet basements for many homeowners is that their drain spouts are not draining far enough away from the house. Make sure that the water that is going down your gutters is being moved far enough away from the house so that the water is not just running back down the exterior part of the basement walls. Invest in some downspout extensions to ensure the water is being moved far enough away from the homes foundation.
Cracks in the foundation
Wet soil around the house means that water will find its way to the lowest point. If the water in the soil rises, the pressure against the walls and floor will make it easier for water to get through if there is a crack in the concrete.
Think of it like taking a bucket full of water (the wet yard) and immersing a small paper cup into the water (the house). If the cup is air-tight, nothing will get in. But if there is a crack in the paper cup, then water will start to come in from that area.
Drains are clogged
If you have water in the basement, it could be that you have a clogged drain. A clogged drain will leave the water with nowhere to go and can cause the water going down the drain to back up into the house.
Backwater valve problems
Another issue could be that your backwater valve is stuck or broken. This would be noticeable because the smell from the water would be very smelly. This type of water damage is very easy to spot and will need to be fixed quickly. Due to the nature of the water flowing into the house, it should be fixed by a professional
Leaking appliances or pipes
Another place to check will be your hot water tank to see if there is a leak coming from it. If you have had a plumber come to your house recently, they may have inadvertently bumped something, and your hot water tank could be leaking water.
It’s a good idea to have a proper hot water drainage system in place so that the water from it gets dispersed into the ground or down a drain. This will avoid any standing water issues that may arise.
Inspect the area around the furnace to see if there is water leaking from the furnace. Check your fridge and freezer to see if there is any water coming out of these appliances as well. Your water heater can leak from the bottom, or your water heater can leak from the top, make sure to inspect both!
Another thing to inspect will be the pipes in the basement. If you have recently been hanging pictures or putting nails into the walls, it could be that you have punctured a pipe, and the water could be leaking out onto the floor (here’s a way to hang pictures without using nails). This can make the water seem like it’s coming from the floor when in fact, it’s coming from behind the walls.
How to stop water from coming up through the basement floor.
So the next question is, “How do I stop water from coming through my basement floor?”
If you want to put an end to water coming up through the floor in your basement or cellar, you can do a few things. Assuming you have identified that it isn’t an appliance issue or a backwater valve issue.
Here is how to stop water seepage in a concrete floor and some things you can do to prevent water from coming into your basement.
Unclog the pipes
Make sure your gutters are clear, and if you have weeping tile, make sure that they aren’t clogged.
Improve the grade
If it looks like the water isn’t running away from the house, you need to make sure you have a decent grade that is running the water away from the foundation. You can see this is the case if water runs back towards the house or if your gutters aren’t draining away from the home.
Check the sump pump
If you have a sump pump, you will want to make sure that it is working. Sometimes they can get stuck and burn out. It’s a good idea to perform regular sump pump maintenance so that you know it is working when you need it.
Your sump pump is designed to take the water from the weeping tiles around the house and move the water to a location away from your house. Many times when you have water in your basement it’s because the sump pump has burned out.
Another reason is that often in periods of heavy rain the power can go out and without power your sump pump can’t run. With all of that water and hydrostatic pressure building up around the house and nowhere for it to go the water will find it’s way into the house via floor cracks and basement walls if they have not been properly waterproofed.
Install a drainage system
The key is to minimize water pressure outside of the house. You can put different systems in place, such as weeping tile that leads into a sump pump pit. When the pit fills up, it pushes the water out and away from the home.
Another is an interior drainage system that goes along the wall where the joint of the floor meets the wall. This system gathers up the water and drains it to a pump pushing it away from the house.
Is a basement leak covered by home insurance?
Your insurance can cover leaks in a basement, but it will depend on the type of leak. In the case of hydrostatic pressure, this is water coming from an external source and may not be covered. If you are wondering about this, you should contact a home insurance professional and see what type of coverage you have.
Related: What to do if you have wet carpet in your basement.
Who do you call if your basement is leaking?
Depending on what type of leak you have, you will need to contact one of several different kinds of professionals. If you have a leak due to a pipe, you need to contact a plumber.
On the other hand, if your wet basement is because you have a leak due to water pressure from outside, you will need to contact a waterproofer/waterproofing contractor, as we discussed in this article.
Final thoughts on water coming through a basement floor
Let’s just call it as it is water coming up through a basement floor is a big concern. Take the time now to identify the source and see what is causing it. Once you have done that, call a foundation specialist to make sure they address the issue now before it gets worse.