How to Stop a Leaky Basement: Your DIY Prevention Guide

When it comes to the structural integrity of your home, water is most certainly not your friend.

Water is highly destructive to your home, causing mold issues and structural damage. If not treated quickly and appropriately, water issues will worsen over time. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with our simple DIY prevention guide for helping to stop a leaky basement and other water-related issues.

Why the Leak? Understanding Hydrostatic Pressure

Basements are often a common location for leaks because they sit below ground level. Some basements are perfectly dry and some are damp or flooded with every major storm. Some homes split gradually until expensive new foundations are warranted. The reason for some of these issues may be due in part to hydrostatic pressure.

Cutting away land to create your home’s foundation is of course a necessary part of the construction process. However, water naturally flows through the ground and now has to find its way around the concrete foundation you’ve created. Instead of flowing freely around your space, water can get pushed up against your foundation, and will back up and rise as it fills cavities in the soil around your home or in voids behind walls. Water volume rises as it fills around your home, developing considerable pressure and weight upon your foundation.

This process is hydro (water) static (standing) pressure, the force of standing water behind an object. Hydrostatic pressure can move your foundation or push its way entirely through it, causing significantly expensive reconstruction efforts. Do we have your attention? Let’s talk about some ways to stay one step ahead of this beast.

Tips on How to Stop a Basement from Leaking

  • Check gutters and downspouts. It’s best practice to clean your gutters at least every 3 months. Make sure your gutters are not clogged or overflowing. Check to make sure that your downspouts are directing water away from the foundation of your home. It’s a wise idea to add an elbow to the downspout along with an 8’ pipe for the water to flow from the foundation. At minimum though, you should install a splash guard, at least three feet in length beneath the downspout to protect your foundation and prevent soil erosion.
  • Survey your landscape. Make sure that the ground near the outside of your home is graded away from your foundation. If it’s not, rainwater and debris is going to pool in just the wrong spot—next to your foundation, and present increased risk of leaking through to your basement. You can further protect your home by placing 4-6 millimeter plastic sheeting on top of the ground and up the foundation of your home approximately 6 inches. You may then backfill with landscape rock and soil.
  • Check your sump pump. It’s very important to discharge your sump pump away from your home’s foundation. Install a pipe extension at least 8 feet from the foundation well. This discharge pipe should ideally be installed underground, sloped downward as it runs away from your home.
  • Weather-proof window wells. Windows in your basement can be common sources of moisture intake. Make sure to clear your windows of leaves and debris, and caulk around the frame to avoid water, air and insects from entering your basement.
  • Perform an annual inspection. After the frost of winter is gone, walk around your home in the spring and look for any areas that have settled around your foundation. Areas of most significant concern are those places where trenches have been dug for extending utilities into your home. You can bring in topsoil to raise the surface of these settled areas to a minimum grade. Be on the lookout for any hairline cracks in your foundation that require repair.
  • Seal your foundation. Preventative measures such as applying cement paint or coating can be employed to seal the cinderblocks of your foundation. Use a stiff brush and apply the paint generously.

When all else fails, call a professional to discuss drain tile, sump pumps and drainage systems. The long-term damage to your home is too substantial not to take appropriate action and act fast.


About Woodard Cleaning & Restoration

Woodard Cleaning & Restoration was founded in 1946 by Earl and Nancy Woodard. Located in St. Louis, Missouri, Woodard services the greater metro area (Illinois, St. Charles County, Jefferson County, St. Louis County, and many more). Woodard is proud to serve as the preferred provider for cleaning & restoration services. Our cleaning services include carpet, hard surface, furniture, and rug cleaning for both residential and commercial properties. We also provide water, fire, board-up, storm and smoke restoration services for residential and commercial clients. For information or questions submit a form online or call us at 314-227-3932.

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Updated 7/22/2014