home restoration after a severe storm

Wet Basement Blues: 3 Common Ways That Water Gets In

A wet or flooded basement represents a serious threat to both the literal and figurative foundations of your home. Diagnosing the cause is the first step in combating basement water damage. Unfortunately, this is not always easy to do. If you would like increase your knowledge about what causes a wet basement, read on. This article will teach you how to recognize three of the most likely culprits.


Condensation generally manifests as water droplets forming on the walls and/or floors. These droplets are formed by the collision of warm air with the cold surfaces of your basement. Left untreated, condensation can quickly lead to mold, mildew, and rot, especially when it occurs near untreated wood. Likewise, it can cause rust to form on appliances and other metal objects.

To determine if condensation is the cause of your wet basement, grab a roll of tin foil and some duct tape. Securely fasten a large square piece of foil to one of the areas prone to gathering moisture, and leave it in place overnight. Then check which side of the foil has become damp. If it's the outside, your problem is condensation. On the other hand, if it is the underside that has gathered moisture, your problem more likely stems from one of the next two causes.  


Runoff isn't so much a problem with the basement as it is a problem with the drainage system around your basement. For that reason, runoff usually only manifests after periods of heavy precipitation, when the soil around your home is fully saturated. When this water isn't properly redirected, it will eventually force its way into your basement through the phenomenon known as hydrostatic pressure.

The first step in recognizing runoff is to pay attention to patterns about when flooding seems to occur. A correlation with heavy rainfall or snow melt is often a good clue. Likewise, it is important to analyze the landscaping around your home. Check to see whether the ground is sloping toward your foundation walls. Also check whether you have any broken or backed-up gutters that might be causing water to stream right down the walls of your home, rather than being diverted a safe distance away.

Subsurface Seepage

Like runoff, subsurface seepage is tied to excessively moist soil--only this water is concentrated in the soil beneath your home, rather than the soil around it. This often happens to homes built in low lying areas. Yet it can also happen to any home that happens to be built atop soil that has a high clay content, because clay drastically increases the degree of water retention.

Subsurface seepage can be difficult to distinguish from runoff. It often manifests as water finding its way into your basement through small cracks. Unlike runoff, however, subsurface seepage doesn't always line up with periods of heavy rainfall. In fact, if your basement is otherwise sound, you may not notice any flooding at such times. Instead, subsurface seepage will occur with seemingly random frequency.

For more information, contact Fire & Flood Services Inc. or a similar company.