Whether you use your basement as a home office, workout space, playroom, or even just storage, the last thing you want is a basement water leak! Both finished, and unfinished basements are vulnerable to leaks. Unfinished basements make it easier to spot the tell-tale signs, such as damp walls and standing water. On the other hand, finished basements might conceal water damage with carpeting or wall paneling.
In this article, we’re going to review typical leak causes and discuss the differences in the leak detection methods for finished & unfinished basements.
What causes basement & home water leaks?
Every household is susceptible to different types of leaks. Some leaks originate from improperly installed shingles, while others come from broken seals around your water line. Some of the common causes of basement water leaks are:
- Hydrostatic pressure – After heavy rains or flooding, the soil around your home becomes saturated with water. The resulting pressure can push moisture through your foundation and basement walls.
- Lateral pressure – Similar to hydrostatic pressure, lateral pressure refers to the specific pressure on your foundation from the lateral sides. This can happen because the loose soil around your foundation is very absorbent and receives the rainwater runoff from your roof and any discharge from the gutters.
- Plumbing leaks – Every appliance that uses water must eventually connect to the water main. This means that damaged pipes and connectors create multiple pressure points for water to seep through. Old tank water heaters, rubber supply hoses, frozen water lines, and broken pipes are common causes of basement water damage.
Remember: in order to determine the cause of a leak with certainty, we’ll need to examine the site and perform testing. Fortunately, most home leaks can be tackled quickly with the help of a leak detection professional.
What are the common signs of a basement leak?
Basement leaks are surprisingly common, but they can manifest in unexpected ways. When the signs of a leak aren’t visible, this can cause them to go undetected. Some of the main symptoms to look for are:
- Mold Growth – Mold needs a moist environment in order to grow. When you notice mold in the basement, it means that the mold has found enough moisture to fuel growth. Some types of mold can be harmful to your health, so be sure to have a specialist test a sample before attempting removal.
- Water Stains – You may notice water stains in shades of yellow, white or grey. When these stains first appear, it’s wise to call in a professional. This usually means there is water seepage within your walls.
- Musty Odor – While some basements do have a different scent than the rest of the home, if you notice a distinctly musty or damp odor, this can signal that you have a leak.
How do we detect leaks in unfinished basements?
While unfinished basements might be less useful in your day to day life, it is often far easier to find leaks when they occur. Because most unfinished basements lack carpeting or wall paneling, it is much easier to see where the leak is coming from. For example, cracks in walls or flooring can be spotted easily, and damp areas are openly visible.
Another common problem that we’ll see in unfinished basements is called ‘cove seepage.’ Cove seepage occurs when hydrostatic pressure forces water through any available cavity, but specifically in the cove joint. The cove joint is the space between two parts of the foundation known as the wall and the footer. Cove seepage can be particularly apparent because it may leave standing pools of water on the floor or near the walls.
How do we detect leaks in finished basements?
If you have a finished basement, it’s good to work with a leak detection professional rather than attempting to resolve the problem yourself. This is because leak detection specialists, like those at The Waterboy, can perform ‘noninvasive leak detection.’ Noninvasive leak detection uses advanced tools like robotic cameras and noise correlators. These tools allow us to find the source of a leak without causing damage to the surrounding structure. When the source of the leak has been found, we simply mark the location for your restoration professional. Without access to these tools and the corresponding training, a plumber may need to use trial and error methods of leak detection. This can result in severe property damage, and it is not ideal for finished basements.
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