Preventing Water Leakage In Your Basement
Having a wet basement is certainly no fun and potentially the start of bigger, compounding issues, so being proactive and keeping water out is well worth your time and attention.
There are some common and consistent factors that contribute to water getting into your basement, as well as some fairly simple preventative measures that can greatly reduce this from happening in the first place.
Landscaping around your home is a big factor in preventing water from seeping into your basement. A well-compacted layer of clay, sloped away from your dwelling, will allow drainage off your property and into an area that won’t affect your basement.
Remember, you are not allowed to drain water from your property on to that of a neighbour and must take the necessary steps to prevent this from happening.
Eavestrough and Downspouts
These two items are meant to collect rainwater and snow melt from your roof and channel it away from your dwelling. In order to do this properly, they need to be cleaned regularly, ensuring they are free of leaves, branches and other debris that may cause them to back up and overflow.
Downspouts should be directed away from the dwelling and ideally should extend at least 1 m (3 ft) from the structure.
Condensation and Humidity
Moisture that builds up because of humidity can be mitigated by sealing dryer vents with foil tape and insulating cold water pipes to prevent condensation.
As long as you do not have leaks in the water pipes or drainage pipes that need to be resolved, you can insulate your basement walls to prevent further condensation from occurring on the surface.
If you have exterior window wells for your basement windows, consider installing clear acrylic covers to keep out water, snow, yard debris and rodents. All of these are things which could compromise the integrity of your weather seal.
Window well covers may also add an additional measure of security in the prevention of break-ins, as well as accidental falls into the opening.
Check your basement walls and floors for cracks that may allow seepage to enter the dwelling. In some cases, mitigating measures may be required, such as filling cracks with epoxy or hydraulic cement. If the problem is too large, more drastic measures may be required, such as excavating around the foundation to allow for additional repairs or installation of weeping tiles.
If there are no cracks, you can also waterproof the inside of your basement walls with a special sealer, which prevents seepage through the porous concrete blocks used in the foundation.
Sewer Lines and Septic Systems
Consider having your sewer line or septic system inspected and professionally cleaned. This may be all the more important if you have large trees whose roots may have grown into the sewer line and potentially cause a blockage.
If your home is new, it should have a mandatory sewer backflow valve ( a.k.a. backwater valve ) on the sewer line. If this is not the case, consider installing one to prevent sewage and water from backing up into your basement.
Exterior Water Taps
In colder climates, exterior taps could freeze and split, causing issues when things thaw. Check to see if you have a properly installed frost proof exterior tap(s) on the outside of your home that will not freeze in sub-zero temperatures.
You can also have a draining interior shut off valve, which, when properly installed, allows you to bleed off any water in the line when you close the valve down for the Winter.
Some areas have high groundwater levels or collect more water during the rainy season or Spring Thaw. Consider installing a below grade sump pump in the basement, to remove any groundwater that may seep into the basement.
Remember that sump pumps require electricity to operate, so a backup power supply may be necessary during storm-related power outages.
Be it a broken water pipe or seepage into your basement, having a water alarm can alert you to an incident and enable you to take preventative measures before the issue gets serious. Alarms can be installed along baseboards in your basement, near appliances that have a supply line, or in trouble spots that you may have noticed in your regular inspection. Any water that starts to pool in your basement will trigger the alarm and alert you to the problem
For protection against water pipe or appliance service line leaks, you can install an automatic water service line shut off device that recognizes excessive water flow and closes the main supply line valve.
Perhaps one of the biggest culprits for household water leaks are washing machines, whether they are located in a basement or on upper floors, since water will make its way to the lowest point in your home. It is imperative to conduct regular inspections of the water service lines to all of your appliances, particularly washing machines. Most washing machine hoses are only good for about 5 years, but you should replace these hoses and other components as recommended by the manufacturer. Also, consider switching our regular rubber hoses for braided lines which will help prevent total failure.
A standard 5/8” rubber hose for your washing machine can leak 48 litres of water per minute when fully compromised, so damage can be substantial!
Taps and Supply Lines
It is recommended to shut off your main water supply line when leaving your house on vacation, even though you will have arranged for regular home visits by a house sitter.
It is also recommended to close water supply valves to washing machines when this appliance is not in use, as a way to cut down on the chances of having a hose burst and cause damage.
Washing machines are notorious for suddenly opening and closing water valves during their cycles, causing a water hammer. Essentially, this is a shock wave in your machines’ hoses or household water pipes which could compromise the strength and integrity of your plumbing. Consider installing a water hammer arrestor to help prevent the occurrence of this phenomena.
A basic in-line water hammer arrestor for your typical residential 1/2′ pipe is approximately Can $20.oo plus installation costs and can save you a ton of grief in the future.
Remember the old adage ” an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and apply some of these tips to your own regular home maintenance schedule and inspection routine.