Homeowners in the South may not be as familiar with the
advantages, and disadvantages, of having a basement. The
damp, sandy soil found in most Southern states – especially
those along the coast or with an abundance of wetlands –
contains too much groundwater to make basements feasible.
Advances in dehumidifying technology have helped turn
basements from damp, musty and moldy storage spaces into
recreation rooms and entertainment areas. But regardless of
the geographical and topographical characteristics of your
home, basements can still be susceptible to water leaks or
flooding. In fact, most homeowners with a basement will
experience some form of water damage at some point or
Water damage is one of the leading causes of home insurance
claims and is responsible for millions of dollars in damages and
subsequent restoration every year. In addition to contributing
to structural and foundation problems, basement water
damage can create the perfect environment for toxic mold
Primary Causes of Basement Water Damage
Water intrusion in a basement can often be traced to surface
water or subsurface groundwater.
If water is coming through the basement floor or coming in
where the basement walls meet the floor, subsurface
groundwater is likely to blame. How does this happen? During
periods of particularly wet weather, rising groundwater and
saturation causes hydrostatic pressure, which pushes against
the foundation and pushes water through cracks and openings
in the concrete. This pressure can also cause the basement
floor and walls to crack.
If the water in your basement seems to be only near the
exterior foundation walls, it is probably due to surface water
that isn’t draining away properly. Here are some signs to look
Leaky windows or clogged window wells: Leaves and
other kinds of debris can clog basement window wells
and cause them to fill with water. The water can leak into
the basement through cracks and gaps around older
windows. Regularly clean window wells to prevent
clogging or consider adding a window well cover and
replacing older, leaky basement windows.
Overflowing gutters: Water overflowing from gutters
can seep into a basement and erode the surrounding soil,
which can cause foundation cracks. Cleaning your gutters
regularly can prevent overflow.
Short downspouts: Water from downspouts can easily
gather on a surface near the foundation. Downspouts
should extend at least 10 feet from the house to ensure
that discharge properly drains away from the foundation.
Landscape & pavement slope: Your yard – especially
the soil next to the house — should slope away from the
foundation to keep water from pooling and saturating the
soil. The same goes for pavement surrounding the house,
which can crack and settle over time and allow rainwater
to flow toward the house. Regular inspections by a
foundation repair expert can detect and correct potential
Roof leaks: A leaky roof isn’t normally thought of as a
problem for basements, but water can find its way down
to cause damage to your basement ceiling or walls. Look
for worn or missing shingles and other signs of damage
that may lead to a roof leak.
Basement Flooding (And How to Prevent It)
An excess of surface and groundwater caused by wet weather
(heavy rains or melting snow) can overload a drainage system
and lead to serious water damage in the basement. But other
problems can lead to floods as well:
Faulty sump pumps: A sump pump is a small pump
installed with a collection basin, typically in the lowest
part of a house (like a basement). Its purpose is to drain
surface water, but a pump that breaks down or is simply
overwhelmed by excess water can cause flooding.
Replacing an old pump with a cast-iron model can prevent
future problems with water damage, and a battery-
powered backup pump can come in a flood-related power
Plumbing or appliance failure: Basements often house
washing machines, hot water heaters, and HVAC systems,
and damaged hoses or drain lines can cause major
flooding. You can avoid serious damage by replacing
cracked supply hoses or rusty tank-type water heaters.
While sub-freezing temperatures are rare in the South,
taking steps to prevent damaged or busting pipes in
winter months are also wise.
Storm sewer backup: During heavy rains, a municipal
sewer system can become overwhelmed with water.
When the water level gets too high, water can back up in
the system and into your basement. Make sure that your
exterior drainage systems are clear and in proper
working order if the threat of heavy rains is in the
If Disaster Strikes, Call the Experts
Any accumulation of water in the basement can cause
expensive damage. Our experienced, knowledgeable staff can
restore damaged areas, and our thermal imaging devices can
detect hidden water damage to save you from future costly
repairs. We’ve been proudly serving Columbia residents since
1959, and we’re ready to serve you!