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Common problems homeowners deal with in basements.

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 another. 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 growth. 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 for:  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 problems.  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 outage.  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 forecast.

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!

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