10 Ways Water Enters Your Basement

how water enters your basement diagram

Your basement’s damp, it’s musty and there may even be puddles or small rivers on the floor. But how does water get into your basement?

Water follows gravity and prefers the path of least resistance. So if there’s a gap, crack or open space, water will find its way in.

Here are the 10 most common ways water can enter your basement.

1. Over the Footing

The purpose of basement footing is to support the foundation and prevent settling. Footings are made from concrete with rebar reinforcement. Cracks or gaps in footing can serve as entry points for water.

2. Under the Footing

A high water table, settling ground or periods of freezing and thawing can shift the ground under your foundation, causing damage and creating access points for water.

3. Through Floor Cracks

Concrete brick basement wall corner showing water leaking toward floor.
Water leaks through a basement wall.

Settling foundations, poor construction or damage from tree roots or earth movement can crack your basement concrete. Where there’s a crack, water can find its way through.

4. Windows and Window Wells

Windows, by their very nature, are openings in your home’s wall. If the window frame is rotted, poorly sealed, cracked or ill-fitting, it’s susceptible to water. Rain, snowmelt, leaking gutters or incorrectly directed downspouts can dump water into a window well, resulting in a leak into the basement.

5. Pipe Penetrations

Basements are used as a home’s utility corridor and include heating ducts, gas lines, and water pipes. Basements also can be home to items utilizing water such as the hot water heater, washing machine, utility sink or a bathroom. A broken pipe can gush a flood of water into a basement, while a small leak might just result in perpetual dampness.

6. Over the Sill Plate

A sill plate anchors the house to the foundation. It’s the bottom horizontal member of a wall to which vertical pieces are attached. On the outside, sill plates will be covered by siding and wall sheathing. Any place where two building materials come together can leave gaps and space, perfect for water drip through.

7. Wall Cracks and Mortar Joints

Much like floor cracks, cracks in the wall or space at mortar joint points can make perfect entry points for water. Cracked walls can be caused by hydrostatic (water) pressure pushing inward from surrounding soil. Tree roots also can cause havoc on basement walls.

8. Failed or Undersized Pumps

A sump pump can work wonders to remove excess water from a basement, but if the sump pump fails, water can back up and flood a basement. Sump pumps operate on electricity with a battery backup. If the power goes out and the battery is dead, or if the battery dies after hours of no power, the result could be a wet basement. Sump pumps that are too small to handle the amount of water in a basement can get overwhelmed, leaving homeowners with a soggy mess.

9. Damp Air from Humidity

Warm air is able to hold more moisture than cold air. In the summer, air humidity can increase, causing general dampness in the basement. Basements tend to be warmer than the remainder of the house because they’re underground and the ground retains warmth. That makes the ground warmer than the average temperature outside.

10. Walk-Up Basement

Can you enter your basement from the exterior of your house? Water flows downward through the path of least resistance. Stairs leading to a basement can be the perfect conveyance for water.

No matter how water is finding its way in, the experts at My Foundation Repairs have solutions to help dry and protect your basement.

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