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Signs and Causes of Water in Basements

Aug 11, 2016 | Services

Having a basement can be a plus for homeowners needing extra space, whether it’s to store items or to eventually convert an unfinished basement into a finished room. On the other hand, a basement can be a nightmare if water seeps into it. If you have
a basement, here are some basic clues that you may have water in your basement, along with a few of the most common causes of this problem.


Recognizing Signs of Water in a Basement

Sometimes, there can be water in a basement without the obvious sign of water. If you have a basement and have experienced significant rainfall, you need to look for possible clues that you may
have a problem. Just because there isn’t visible water doesn’t mean your basement is safe. A few of the common red lights indicating water in a basement include those such as:

  • Noting small water pools in a basement or crawlspace can indicate a problem somewhere.
  • Spotting mildew or mold can suggest an excess of moisture.
  • Damp basement walls may be a sign of water.
  • Dripping or trickling water is another red light.
  • Humid, damp air can also be a warning.


Reasons for Water Entering a Basement

After realizing there is a problem of water seeping into your basement, the next step is determining the reason for it. Here are a few of main causes of water invading a basement.

  • Flawed window wells can lead to flooding. Many basements have small vents or windows on their outside walls. These windows, known as window wells, should be constructed  so that water doesn’t enter a basement or a crawlspace. However, if they’re defective
    or not designed properly, they can funnel pooled water into a house.
  • A defective water heater can create severe flooding issues in a basement.
  • Fractured water lines, due to frozen pipes, punctures or deteriorated plumbing, can also cause major basement flooding.
  • Cracks in the foundation or walls can be culprits. That’s why you need to regularly inspect your house for possible cracks. Even tiny cracks can eventually cause big issues.
  • Faulty, clogged or missing gutters and downspouts are causes. When gutters and downspouts are defective or gone, improperly installed or defective, rainwater falls around the edges of a house, eventually seeping into a basement.


Considerations and Warnings

  • The most common pathways that water takes to get into a basement are through walls, floors, windows or foundation cracks. Water can also seep into a basement or crawlspace through the seams that are between a floor and wall. In most cases, water takes
    the easiest path, offering the least amount of resistance.
  • Although the rainy season is considered to be the worst time of year for basements to flood, a heavy winter snowfall can be even worse. For example, snow can quickly melt when the above-ground temperature is above freezing, turning snow into water
    that can leak into a basement.
  • Basement flooding occurs more in older houses than it does in newer constructions.
  • Above-ground basements, and especially those built on elevated land, such as hills or mountains, are less likely to have flooding problems than below-ground basements.
  • If you have coverage for flooding, promptly call your insurance agent. But if you lack insurance coverage for flooding, be sure to quickly contact a qualified restoration specialist who can property restore the damage.


Sometimes water can invade basements because the land on a home site isn’t graded properly, or it is on an improper slope. Improper grading or erosion that has altered how your land is graded can cause water to flow in the direction of a house, entering a basement. One of the many services of Johnson Landscaping is providing drainage solutions.

Please contact us so that we can diagnose your drainage problems or take care of any landscaping projects that you may have been postponing.

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About the Author

Matt Johnson grew up in a family of landscapers and gardeners as the grandson of Raymond Johnson (Founder, 1933, Johnson's Florist and Garden Center) and son of James and Carol Johnson (Founders, 1960, Johnson's Landscaping Service, Inc.). Since 2007, he has led Johnson's Landscaping Service with his brother, Charlie.  Matt and his wife Jaime live in Petworth in Northwest DC with their 3 sons and 2 big dogs.

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