What Causes Water Problems?

The presence of excess water saturating the soil around or beneath a home’s foundation may be due to many issues; however, it is the resulting hydrostatic pressure (water pressure) exerted against the foundation’s walls or floor that causes the seepage of water into a home and possibly leads to structural problems. A professional waterproofer will develop a remedy for a home based on the water’s source and the effects of the pressure and seepage on the foundation.

Negative grading. Grading shapes the angle and slope of the land around the home and directs surface waterflow. With negative grading, the land slopes toward the home. The lot may have been poorly graded when the home was built, or soil erosion or consolidation may have changed the lie of the terrain. In either case, when the land is negatively graded, surface water may run toward the house rather than drain away, causing foundation seepage, a damp and musty basement, and the potential for structural issues.

Sump pump discharge pipes. Sump pumps work by taking in the water that collects beneath a foundation and then discharging it above ground at a safe distance from the foundation. However, when the pump’s discharge pipe deposits water too close to the foundation walls, a vicious cycle known as a “fountain effect” can develop, in which the water discharged next to the foundation flows directly back into the drainage system. With the persistent flow of water near the foundation walls, seepage and structural problems may develop, and the needlessly overworked sump pump may also fail prematurely.

Defective gutters/downspouts. Gutters and downspouts are designed to carry water away from the house and its foundation. Gutters that leak or overflow or downspouts that release water too close to the home can often be the culprit in water seepage and foundation problems that spring up suddenly.

High or “false” water table. The water table is the level underground at which the soil is completely saturated. Seasonal fluctuations, excessive amounts of rain, more runoff than usual from water sources at higher levels, and even certain types of soil can cause a localized area of high groundwater, one that may rise around a home's crawl space or above its basement floor.

Failure of an old waterproofing system. Like all household systems, older waterproofing products can degrade or become compromised over time. A waterproofing system that has not been checked regularly for needed repairs can one day fail and allow seepage.