Return to the Blog Home Page

Five Tips for Dealing With Basement Water Seepage

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019
basement water seepage

According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, basement water seepage is a problem in over 60% of homes that have a basement. A frequently wet basement becomes an increasingly unusable space in the house. Seepage threatens items stored there, attracts pests and vermin, and supports toxic mold growth. Most basement water seepage issues can be reduced to two principal causes: heavy rainfall seeping down and ground water rising up.

Rainfall Issues

Rain deeply saturating soil surrounding the house perimeter induces hydrostatic pressure against basement walls, promoting seepage through tiny cracks in the walls. Reduce rainfall-related seepage into the basement with these steps.

  • Keep gutters clear. Clogged gutters can overflow over 1,000 gallons of water during a 1-inch rainstorm. This torrent soaks deep into soil directly below, producing hydrostatic pressure and triggering seepage.
  • Extend downspouts. Gutter downspouts may be too short, releasing water where it saturates the ground adjacent to basement walls and causes seepage. Downspouts should be extended to discharge water at least three feet from the house—even more is better.   
  • Grade to divert water. Make sure landscaping surrounding the house slopes slightly to move water away from the structure. Add extra topsoil to create a downward slope of approximately 4 inches in the first six feet away from the house.

Groundwater Pressure

Where a high water table occurs naturally, groundwater may rise to a level higher than the basement floor. Seepage then occurs through cracks in the floor as well as at the joint between the basement wall and the floor.

  • Add a sump pump. Installed in a basin excavated in the basement floor, a sump system collects rising ground water to relieve pressure under the floor. The pump actuates automatically to pump water out of the basin through a discharge pipe and typically releases it somewhere in the backyard, far from the house.  
  • Install a footing drain. Buried around the perimeter of the basement foundation, a footing drain incorporates a perforated pipe surrounded by gravel backfill to collect and carry away rising ground water. This reduces seepage at the joint between the basement wall and floor.

Extending the Life of your Sump Pump

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

sump pump maintenanceIf your sump pump fails, you probably won’t know it until the worst possible time: after your basement incurs water damage due to flooding, a plumbing rupture or ground water infiltration. Because sump pumps are concealed inside a covered basin in the basement floor, a defective pump may not be obvious until that critical moment when it’s needed most.

The average service life of a residential sump pump is seven to ten years. To maximize your sump pump’s lifespan and avoid unexpected damage due to premature pump failure, here are some tips to follow:

Occasionally

Run it. Because sump pumps often go extended periods without activating, some manufacturers recommend routinely test-running the pump every three or four months to confirm proper function as well as keep moving parts operating freely.

  • Fill a 5-gallon bucket of water and pour it into the basin.
  • Confirm that the float switch activates the pump.
  • Make sure the pump empties the basin, and the float switch turns it off promptly.
  • Also verify that water doesn’t flow back into the basin after the pump stops, reactivating the pump. This is a sign of a defective check valve in the discharge pipe which can shorten pump service life.

Once a Year

Clean the sump basin. Pull the pump up out of the basin and clear out any debris. Also clean the pump inlet screen to ensure that water flows into the pump chamber.

Check the GFCI outlet. Most sump pumps are plugged into GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupt) outlets. GFCI outlets may switch off due to transient power surges taking place without your knowledge. Verify that the outlet has not switched off and that power is still going to the pump.

Observe pump discharge. Go to the outdoor termination point of the discharge pipe and make sure it’s not obstructed by dirt or other debris. Confirm that water flows freely out of the pipe.

Check the battery backup. If the pump has a battery backup feature, unplug the AC power cord and confirm that the pump activates on battery power when water is poured into the basin.

Preventing Winter Water Damage To Your Furnace

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

furnace

Exposure to water is potentially damaging to gas-fired furnace components including internal valves, burners, as well as electronic boards that control the system. For this reason, a furnace contacted by water is often declared a safety hazard and must be replaced.

To help prevent winter water damage to your furnace, keep these common issues in mind:

  • Prevent frozen pipes. During frigid winter weather, water gushing from a water supply pipe that has ruptured due to freezing often floods the basement where the furnace is installed. Insulate vulnerable spans of pipe and close any openings that allow cold outdoor air to infiltrate into areas of the house where pipes are routed. If a hard freeze is forecast, turn on household faucets and allow them to trickle overnight.
  • Manage melting snow. A deep snow bank accumulated next to the house may seep water into basement walls below as it melts. Basement contents including the furnace can be damaged. Landscape around the house perimeter should be graded to divert snowmelt away from the foundation. Where possible, shovel or blow deep snow away from the house before it melts.Installation of a sump pump helps avert repeated basement floods.
  • Keep condensate flowing. High-efficiency residential furnaces with AFUE ratings above 90 produce gallons of liquid condensate, usually discharged outside the house through a drain pipe. Under frigid conditions, the drain pipe may freeze and obstruct flow. Blocked condensate backing up into the furnace will overflow and shut down the furnace, potentially damaging components and/or the interior area where the unit is installed. If condensate freezes occur, contact a qualified HVAC contractor to relocate and/or insulate the drain line.

For prevention techniques and professional recovery services if winter water damage strikes, contact Rytech, Inc.

 

Prevent Water Damage Wtih These Basic Boiler Maintenance Tips

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

boiler maintenanceA leaky boiler is a common cause of basement water problems that lead to mold and rot. By staying on top of maintenance you can prevent leaks and protect your basement from damage.

Monitor the Temperature and Pressure

Excess temperature and pressure can both cause leaks. Look in the owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommended temperature and pressure levels, then check your boiler’s pressure and temperature gauge. If the readings are consistently too high, you might need to have a technician repressurize your system. Look for leaks around the base of the pressure release valve, which could mean your boiler has been overfilled or the valve is faulty. A small leak can cause corrosion that leads to a bigger leak. Check for dripping from the overflow pipe, which usually protrudes from the outside of the house. Water coming from this pipe suggests excess pressure in the system.

Inspect for Corrosion

Corrosion in the pipes or tank is one of the most common causes of boiler leaks that result in basement water problems. At least twice a year, closely inspect your boiler for signs of rust and deterioration. If you spot a rusty component that you can replace, such as a valve, replace it. Stay alert for signs of sludge buildup, which will eventually corrode your boiler system. If you need to bleed your radiators frequently or the water from bleeding is dark, it’s likely you have a buildup of sludge. A technician can flush your system to remove the sludge.

When your boiler isn’t working as it should, pay attention to any error codes on the digital display so you can give these to your service technician.

An annual maintenance inspection is also essential for preventing boiler leaks. In just one year of normal use, a boiler can develop problems such as hidden rust damage, worn valves, and even cracks. During an inspection, your technician can find and correct these issues before they cause leaks.

 

Using A Sump Pump To Prevent Basement Water Damage

Thursday, December 28th, 2017

sump pumpion, forcing water upward into the basement. A common source of episodic basement flooding is water intrusion through basement walls during heavy rains. Pooling ground water saturates the soil surrounding the foundation, exerting hydrostatic pressure on basement walls and triggering leaks through cracks and gaps.

A sump pump installed in the basement floor is a must to prevent water damage, as well as secondary consequences like toxic mold growth. As water seeping from beneath the foundation or leaking through walls collects inside the basin, the unit automatically actuates and pumps it outside to a discharge point, usually behind the house.

Here are three suggestions to ensure your sump pump safeguards against basement water damage

  • Don’t rely on AC power alone. Severe weather that causes basement flooding often triggers utility power outages, too. Install a sump pump that incorporates a DC battery backup feature to ensure the unit actuates when it’s needed most, even if the grid goes down.
  • Test the system twice a year. In some locales, the pump may not actuate for months at a time. If a malfunction develops while it’s idle, you may be unaware that the system no longer functions properly—until it’s too late. Make sure the basin is free of foreign objects that could clog the pump. Then pour five gallons of water into the basin and observe to verify that the pump automatically turns on, fully empties the basin, then turns off.
  • Check the discharge pipe. Verify that the outdoor span of pipe slants slightly downward and discharges far from the house to prevent water from re-entering the basement. If the discharge pipe doesn’t fully drain, water inside will freeze in cold weather and the pump will not be able to empty the basin.

 

What NOT To Do When You Have A Flooded Basement

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

flooded basementA typical 900-square foot flooded basement with water one foot deep contains about 6,500 gallons. While professional water damage recovery services arrive with equipment specifically designed for this job—as well as the expertise to do it right—some homeowners still elect to tackle it themselves. The “Do’s” for safely removing such a large volume of water are many, but let’s start with some important “Don’ts.” Here’s what NOT to do when you have a flooded basement.

Don’t wade into the basement until household electricity has been shut off. The risk of electrocution is great and deaths occur every year from this cause. Because the main power panel is often in the basement, you’ll need a professional electrician to disconnect power at the meter, then verify that the basement is safe to enter.

Don’t contact water in basement flooding. A flooded basement may contain toxic raw sewage or other toxins from outdoor flooding. Health threats can come from direct contact with contaminated water or from breathing fumes that have accumulated in the enclosed environment. Wear adequate protection.

Don’t pump out deep basement flooding all at once. Outdoor flood water saturates ground surrounding the basement, greatly increasing external pressure against basement walls. If all water is removed rapidly, the weight of saturated earth may cause severe structural damage or complete collapse of basement walls. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends this sequence:

  1. Wait until outside flood water has receded before pumping out the basement.
  2. Pump out one foot of water depth to start. Mark the water level and wait until the next day.
  3. Check the water level mark. If the level rose overnight, wait another 24 hours before pumping again.
  4. Repeat the above sequence, pumping out only one foot per day, marking the level and then checking it after 24 hours.
  5. Once the water level stops rising, pump out water at a rate not exceeding three feet per every 24 hours until all water is removed from the basement.

For more about what to do and not to do about about a flooded basement, ask the water damage professionals at Rytech, Inc.

 

3 Tips for Finding the Moisture Source in the Basement

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

basement leakFinding the moisture source in the basement isn’t a lengthy process of elimination. In most cases, the list of usual suspects is quite short: condensation, water infiltration from outside, and indoor water leaks. Once you nail down the reason, there are proven remedies to a chronically damp, moldy environment just below your living spaces. Here are three tips to finding the moisture source in the basement.

Check the Humidity

As humid air contacts cool basement concrete and cold water pipes, condensation soaks these surfaces. This ongoing moisture cycle escalates water vapor in the air: sustained humidity levels in an enclosed, unventilated basement can reach 90 percent. A $20 electronic hygrometer can verify basement humidity. If it’s 60 percent or more, consider installing a single-room dehumidifier to extract water vapor and lower humidity.

Test for Water Infiltration

Outdoor water permeating porous concrete walls creates a continuously moist environment inside the basement. Here’s an easy DIY test to verify moisture in basement walls:

  • Tape a one-foot square sheet of aluminum foil to a concrete basement wall with duct tape. Make sure the tape seals all four sides of the foil to the wall. Leave the foil in place for several days.
  • Inspect the outside of the foil. If you notice droplets of water forming on the outside of the foil, you have high humidity and condensation.
  • Peel the foil away from the wall and look for moisture on the inside of the foil, as well as darkened concrete underneath caused by accumulated moisture. If you note any outdoor water is permeating basement walls. Eliminate sources of water infiltration and consider applying waterproof wall sealant.

Examine the Plumbing

Pinhole plumbing leaks may be small, but they’re big contributors to a chronically damp environment down in the basement. Check water supply lines for dripping as well as telltale signs like mineral content in water encrusting leaky pipes and joints. Have these repaired immediately by a qualified plumber. Minor leaks are often the precursor to major pipe ruptures.

The professionals at Rytech, Inc. can tell you more about finding the moisture source in the basement.