Ways to Prevent a Leaky Basement

Leaks are a common problem in many structural components of the home. Some are easy to repair, and others may require a bit more effort, but in any case, leaks are bad news. A leaky basement is a typical problem faced by many homeowners and one that requires attention. When water leaks into a basement through the foundation of the home, it can cause mold and mildew growth, create a musty odor, and prevent homeowners from enjoying extra living space because the area is unusable. There are a few things homeowners can do to prevent leaks in the basement and to correct future problems. Learning how to prevent basement leaks is crucial for maintaining a dry and usable space.

The source of most leaky basements is at the foundation. Hydrostatic pressure can build up, forcing water to seep in through cracks in cement or block wall foundations. The water may come in at the joint between the floor and wall or may leak from a window well or the wall itself. To help minimize water seepage, it is important to keep water away from the foundation of the house as much as possible. Examine the following areas of your home to prevent water buildup, and apply measures on how to prevent seepage in basement regions.

Basement Windows

Homes with basement windows can be a source of leaking. If the window is not sealed properly and if the outside window well does not have proper drainage, water can and will find its way through cracks. Make sure basement windows are sealed and caulked properly and that the window well has adequate drainage. If not, correct the problem by sealing around the window with an all-weather caulking product and make sure the surrounding window well drains away from the house.

Gutters and Downspouts

One of the primary sources of many basement leaks is at the highest point on the house. Many homeowners fail to realize their downspouts do not drain far enough away from the foundation of their house. Standard splash blocks may not be providing adequate drainage away from the foundation of the home and water can build up quickly from rain and melting snow. Installing a proper gutter and downspout system that drains the water well away from the foundation of the home is a key step on how to prevent basement leaks. An underground downspout kit is a system that drains water from gutters into an eight-foot PVC pipe buried underground; it disperses the water evenly into the lawn and away from home.

Proper Grading

As the foundation and soil around a home settle, the yard may slope toward the house. Yards that slope towards a home, either unintentionally through settling or simply by design and setting, need to be properly graded and drain well. If the yard slopes toward the house, be sure there is a drainage system in place for excess runoff that doesn’t soak into the ground. It may be necessary to re-grade the soil and build it up and away from the house to prevent excessive water buildup around the foundation.

Inside the Basement

When all the outside issues have been addressed, a leaky basement can be corrected in a couple of innovative ways. Be sure to identify the source of the leak first. For instance, if the leak is coming from above, make sure the problem isn’t in the overhead plumbing. If the problem is coming from the walls and you’ve addressed the outside problems, you still have options. Very minor and infrequent leaks can sometimes be stopped with a basement waterproofing product that can be applied directly to the cement or block wall foundation. If more persistent, larger, or recurring leaks occur, you want to consider a specialized baseboard system. Designed to be easy to install, the system involves panels and baseboard channels that drain water directly into a sump pump or drain, leaving everything outside the panels dry. This an ideal solution for homeowners who want to refinish their basements but have postponed the project because of leaks.

A very effective solution if properly installed, a waterproofing system that drains away from the house may eliminate the need for costly and disruptive foundation repairs. Once all drainage issues are resolved and basement leaks are stopped, the area can be finished, giving homeowners additional living space in which they won’t have to worry about mold, mildew, and odors.


The SANI-TRED system is a permanent waterproofing solution for your basement.


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