Basement flooding is a potential risk no matter where you live. Understanding the factors behind basement flooding can minimize the chance that it occurs. Here are three common causes of basement flooding.
Gutter and Downspout Problems
Your home's runoff system, consisting of the gutters and downspouts, is one of the most important components for preventing basement flooding. The downspouts are responsible for routing rainwater that is collected by the gutters far enough away from your home that it doesn't build up around the foundation walls.
Blockages in the gutters or downspouts can prevent the runoff system from performing its job correctly. As water builds up behind the blockage, it will eventually spill out over the edge of the gutters. Cleaning your gutters and downspouts at least twice a year is an essential maintenance step to keep them working effectively and keep rainwater that could eventually leak into your basement away from your home's foundation.
Improperly installed downspouts can cause your basement to flood even if they are free of blockages. The water from your downspouts should be delivered at least 3 feet away from your foundation to protect it from leaks. One way to correct this problem is to install hinged extensions or flexible pipes on the ends of your downspouts. An even better solution is an underground extension that routes the water from the downspout to a french drain system.
Water Supply Line Breakage and Sewage Backups
Even if you live in a dry climate, a malfunction in your home's water supply or sewage system could still lead to a flood in your basement. The main water supply line and the supply lines to major appliances like water heaters are often run through the basement. If either of these lines burst, flooding can quickly get out of hand as water is continuously pumped into your basement. Water line bursting is more frequent during the winter months when the lines freeze on extremely cold nights. You should consider wrapping these water lines with foam insulation to reduce the chance of freezing and bursting.
Sewage backup through basement drain fixtures can cause your basement to flood with "black water" that is hazardous to your family's health. Most home sewage systems deliver water to your septic tank using gravity, with the tank installed below the level of your basement. When sewage backs up, it will emerge through the lowest drains in your home first. This can occur if it has been too long since the septic tank was pumped and it overflows. Another common cause is a blockage in the septic tank delivery lines that develops due to hardened oil and grease that was poured down your home's drains.
No matter how well-maintained your drainage and runoff systems are, they will not be effective if your basement is not properly sealed. As the soil around your home's foundation becomes saturated with water during periods of heavy rainfall, groundwater will push against your basement walls through an effect known as hydrostatic pressure.
Hydrostatic pressure in groundwater is great enough to force moisture through even the smallest cracks and crevices that provide access to your basement. Cracks in basement walls and floors are the usual places where seepage occurs. Using silicone caulk to patch basement cracks will provide a temporary solution for groundwater seepage, but you should consider hiring a foundation contractor to inspect your basement for significant structural damage and determine if large-scale repairs are needed.
Basement flooding is easier to avoid if you understand the causes behind it. Keep these factors in mind so you can take steps to prevent basement flooding before it leads to repairs. If you do have flooding, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional in water damage cleanup.