Basement Water Problems
One of the many things that we will be looking for on your NJ home inspection is evidence of water in the basement. Almost every basement at one point or another has had or will have water problems. No basement is fully waterproof. Basement water problems can lead to more severe structural issues such as damaged and crumbling foundation walls. Water in the basement can also warp and damage interior basement finishes and can lead to mold growth.
How Does Water Get Into the Basement?
Cracks or openings in the foundation and in the basement floor can allow water to enter. As hydrostatic pressure builds up around the foundation it pushes on the basement floor slab and the foundation walls, traveling into the breaches and cracks in the floor and the wall structures.
Block foundation walls are porous and will also allow water to enter as pressure builds up behind the walls. This pressure can be so great that it damages the foundation walls. This damage usually manifests in the form of horizontal cracking or foundation wall displacement.
The most common cause of basement water issues is poor grading around the property. The grade around the home should slope away from the structure in order to help keep water away from the foundation walls. If rain water pools against the foundation walls, it will find its way into the structure.
Downspouts that discharge too close to the foundation walls or that are missing altogether are another prevalent cause of basement water issues. All downspouts should be piped 5 feet away from the exterior walls to help keep water out of the basement.
Basement Waterproofing Methods
If water is found in your basement, first make sure your downspouts are directed away from your exterior foundation walls and ensure the ground is graded away from the structure. If water problems persist, have a professional basement waterproofing company inspect the basement and grading to determine the cause or causes of the problem. While no waterproofing method or combination of methods is 100% effective, one or more of the following methods may help keep your basement drier:
Sump pump: A sump pump is installed in a sump pit, which is a hole cut into the basement floor. Ground water drains into the hole and is discharged by the pump to the exterior of the home away from the exterior walls, helping to keep water out of the basement.
French drain: A French drain system is essentially an underground piping system that is installed along the interior perimeter of the basement walls. A 4- to 6-inch wide section of floor is jackhammered out along the interior perimeter of the foundation walls to accommodate a 4-inch perforated pipe. The perforated pipe will slope gently toward the sump pump. Gravel is applied on top of the pipe to the level of the basement floor slab. With this system, any water entering through and underneath the basement floor slab is directed to the sump pump and then discharged to the exterior, away from the foundation walls.
Sealers: Sealers have very limited utility in keeping water out of the basement. They may seal some areas of the interior walls, but they are not very effective where hydrostatic pressure exists. They are useful in limiting spalling, the deterioration of the foundation walls caused by moisture and high humidity levels.
Excavation: The earth around the home is excavated, and the footings are revealed. A pipe is installed around the exterior perimeter of the home at the level of the footings. As water collects against the foundation the pipe discharges the water to a storm water system. This type of footing drain system helps to relieve hydrostatic pressure. This type of correction is very costly and should be used only after less costly methods have been attempted.
Exercise Caution When Hiring a Waterproofing Company
When selecting a waterproofing company, we recommend you get multiple estimates and check the record of the companies with the Better Business Bureau. You may want to ask for referrals from friends or family members who have had good experiences with basement waterproofing companies.