Basement flooding is a real hazard to homeowners and has been for thousands of years. Flooding destroyed the most primitive housing and can actually do the same today if given enough time and opportunity. Many homeowners just ignore basement flooding and hope it will go away but by taking this attitude they are actually putting the structure of their home in severe danger.
The way to deal with it is head on because there are ways and means of solving the problem. The basements of many homes are prone to flooding today for a number of different reasons but only by investigating those can we investigate the cause and solve the problem.
Causes Of Basement Flooding
The main cause of a flooded basement is actually the level of the land around your home. All houses are initially designed with land sloping away from your home and this effectively removes the danger of your basement flooding.
However, if the land around your home slopes towards it then the water will drain into your foundations because it is the only place that it can feasibly go. Over time, land that did slope in one direction will be subjected to the elements and erosion and thus the initial grading can be naturally reversed.
Of course, a poor sealing job is a necessary accessory to poor grading. If the foundations of your house are not effectively sealed or have leaking tiles around them then water will seep through quite easily. It may even come up directly through the soil in an extreme case of flooding as a result of extreme weather conditions.
Unless the foundations of your home are sealed, the basement is actually defenceless against the effects of water and you are effectively wasting your home space that could be used for storage or as another room.
Another common cause of basement flooding is blocked guttering. Some downspouts hover above the ground rather than actually going into the ground or away from the house. If it were placed this way then it would not direct water away from the home. However, if your drainage system does direct water away but is blocked then it will have the same effect.
Solutions For Basement Flooding
There are several viable basement flooding solutions but you should actually identify the problem first. This will enable you to choose the most effective solution and act quickly to prevent further basement flooding in the future. If your home is on a poor grading then you can actually hire a professional to rectify the problem.
Alternatively, you could actually do it yourself. This entails moving soil up the garden manually or purchasing new soil to lie around your home. Either way, it alters the gradient. You can also dig a small trench further down your yard so that water will collect in it after rolling away from your home and eroded soil can also be save and recycled.
Whether your problem is the gradient or a poorly sealed basement, every single home should be protected from basement flooding by effective waterproofing. Investing in a good sealant that will last for years will keep the water at bay. It is quite expensive but one or two coats may last for years.
It is always better to invest in a more expensive waterproofing sealant if it has a good reputation because you can feel confident that it will not be breached. This peace of mind is certainly worth paying for.
You should do all you can to protect your home from basement flooding because prevention is always better than cure, especially when that cure could cost thousands. Invest in a good sealant, check and maintain your drainage regularly and then keep an eye on your yard gradient. If you can manage that then your basement will not be at risk.
Preventing Basement Flooding
Around the House
1) First, check to make sure that the slope of the yard or lot around your house is outward – meaning that rainwater, thawing snow and drainage will naturally move away from your home’s foundations and toward the ditches. On older properties, some foundation settlement may have occurred, causing unwanted water to flow to the base of the foundation’s French drains. This would direct the water into the sump pump pit, potentially causing an overflow.
2) Check your eavestroughs. They should always be directed so that the water will flow as far away from the side of the house as possible, draining onto the ground’s surface and not directing it toward the foundations. For flat roofed homes, the pipe in the center of the roof that directs water inward must be connected to a storm sewer or public ditch.
Checking the Sump Pump
3) Check and know the capacity of your sump pump. This information should be supplied by the manufacturer, which should also tell you the diameter of the pipe, as well as the height of your water backup pipe. The circuit that runs the sump pump must be able to handle the load.
4) The pipe that then carries the water to the drainage ditch must be in a well-maintained condition, and the outlet cannot ever be blocked. The pipe itself must have a continuous slope, preventing water from freezing inside the pipe during winter before it reaches the ditch. This will also prevent pooling or accumulation.
5) If your residential area receives a large amount of rainfall or snow in certain months, it may be wise to invest in a sump pump alarm system. This system will alert you to high water levels in the sump pit, letter you know that the pump may not be capable of removing the required amount of water – and that you need to switch to a secondary backup pump.
6) Your basement may flood in the case of a blackout, if it occurs during a heavy rainfall. This is why a portable generator or secondary battery-operated sump pump may be necessary in your area.
7) During the winter months, snow removal should not allow accumulated snow to sit near the foundation wall of your home. In the spring, this may thaw and cause flooding. If you have a contractor removing your snow during these months, indicate an alternate area for the snow to be placed, since many contractors do not take this into account.
Additional Preventative Measures
If there are cracks in your foundation walls, these must be repaired immediately as they are noticed. The kind of product and intensity of repair will depend on the level of damage, and in some cases, you may need to call a home repair specialist, especially if the crack or water damage is pooling around the base of your foundations.
If you have a rear or side ditch, it is your responsibility to maintain the cleanliness of this area. It helps to drain your property, and therefore must remain clear of obstructions in order to ensure there is no potential hazard for water backup.
photo by Jason Montgomery
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