How Do Basements Leak?

We can’t tell you how frequently we hear “my basement has never leaked before” from customers in the Toronto area. Of course they want to know why it would be leaking now and many hope that perhaps their leak is a one-time occurrence. If there is one thing we know, it’s that if your home has leaked once and has not been repaired by waterproofing, then you will surely suffer another wet basement.

How do Basements Leak?

‘All basements’ will leak without waterproofing

Over the years, we have learned that all basements will leak eventually, this observation reinforced by the insurance industry which doesn’t protect homeowners from a leak caused by foundation cracks; insurance companies simply won’t take a risk on covering losses they know are impending.

A variety of factors can contribute to causing a basement leak:

  • Plugged exterior drainage tiles or the absence of these completely
  • Property grading 
  • High water tables or heavy rains
  • Cracks from settling or construction

City Wide Group waterproofing professionals can assess the factors present that make your home vulnerable and explain the nature of the issue and our proposed solution.

Understanding Your Wet Basement

Two principles of water:

  • Water will always flow to the lowest point and build up, which increases pressure.
  • Water will always follow the path of least resistance.

When you pour water from one object (a pitcher, etc.) to another (a glass, etc.), it fills from the bottom, the lowest point where it meets resistance, then to the top. The same is true with your basement. Groundwater or rainfall and melting snow flows then accumulates at the bottom of the original hole dug on the property – your foundation. The backfilled ground around your home is less compact than the undisturbed surrounding land and the water will find its way to the lowest point. There, the water builds up filling the available space. If your basement is unfinished, you can actually chart the height that the water has reached in the past by examining the efflorescence and water marks visible on the walls.

Builders use various methods to carry the accumulated water away, with the most common method –a weeping tile system. Weeping tiles work extremely well, until silt, tree roots, etc. clog them. A clog blocks the water from flowing away from your home and starts to build up pressure.

Then there’s the second principle: Water always follows the path of least resistance. For example, you’re at the beach building a sandcastle with a moat, it is then fills in with seawater. However, the water will ultimately break through a point of weakness in your wall. This is why you must continuously rebuild and reinforce your walls because the water always finds the path it has travelled before. That’s the case with your wet leaky basement. Deterioration at the floor-wall joint, cracks in concrete or block walls, or poorly plugged tie rod holes for example can all provide easy, unrestricted access for water.

To permanently prevent against a wet basement, call City Wide Group today at 416.283.5500 or contact us for a free estimate.