How to Find and Fix a Leaking Basement Wall
LESLIE: Ann in Missouri, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you tonight?
ANN: I bought a home that sits on a foundation. And the people that lived in it before we did had it kind of fixed up like a living area. Well, when we bought it, we degutted the whole thing and noticed that while we were degutting it, when the rain came, it would flood. So we dug out around the basement but we left an awning on the top part of my mother-in-law house and got it all finished. And the last couple of years, when it rains, water comes in and my whole flooring – my beautiful flooring – is just welted up and ruined.
TOM: So is this flooring – you mentioned that you dug around the foundation. Not quite sure why you did that because it probably wasn’t necessary. But is the water coming into a lower level, like a basement level, or is the water coming in around this roof – this awning roof?
ANN: I’m not sure. I thought it was coming in around the basement so I pulled it out, tarred the whole thing except for that area. And it doesn’t leak anywhere else but that area where the awning is at now. And I noticed that there is a crack between the house and the actual concrete of the awning.
TOM: You say “crack.” You mean between the roof, where the awning attaches, or do you mean at the foundation level?
ANN: At the foundation level.
TOM: OK, yeah. That’s called “rotation.” What happens is those concrete stoops pull away from the walls and they rotate.
Look, if this is caused by water – if this water infiltration is caused by a basement leakage or foundation leakage, you’re not going to seal your house well enough to stop that from happening no matter how much tar you put on the foundation. So what I want you to do is to go to our website at MoneyPit.com. And on the home page, there’s an article about how to stop a basement from leaking that walks you through this step by step.
But conceptually, what you’re going to do is regrade the foundation perimeter to make sure all that soil that you took out is tamped, now, well and packed in nice and tight around the foundation. We want it to slope down about 6 inches over 4 feet.
And secondly, we want to know that you have gutters on the house, they’re clean, they’re free-flowing and the downspouts are discharging out 4 to 6 feet – not inches, feet – away from the foundation. If you keep the water from the roof and the natural rainfall away from that foundation, you won’t get any leakage into that area. It’s just not going to happen.
So do that first and see if the leaks continue. If they continue, then we’ve got to look for another source. But I want you to get the most obvious one out of the way first.
Ann, thanks for calling 888-MONEY-PIT.