The Causes Of Basement Flooding
Unexpected basement flooding can cause significant household water damage unless you take the proper precautions to protect your home’s lowest level. Whether it’s an acute or chronic issue, basement moisture can weaken your home’s foundation, damage flooring and walls, destroy carpet, and trigger rapid mold development.
Because your basement sits either partially or fully underground, it can be particularly vulnerable to flooding during certain times of the year. Periods of rapid snowmelt, rainy season, and even severe summer storms can all put your basement at risk. Aside from seasonal threats, your basement can be susceptible to rapid flooding at any time simply because it forms the lowest level of your home.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to significantly reduce your risk of dealing with a flooded basement. In this blog, the water damage restoration experts at Kiser Construction share the most common causes of basement flooding and how you can address these issues.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Basement Flooding?
What’s the first step toward avoiding a flooded basement nightmare? Educating yourself on the most common causes of basement flooding. Once you know what to watch for, you can take measures to prevent water from entering the lowest level of your home.
While there’s always a chance that circumstances beyond your control will trigger unexpected water intrusion, here are the most common causes of basement flooding you can try to control:
- Household plumbing failure
- Sump pump failure
- Poorly maintained gutters and downspouts
- Deteriorated or poorly applied basement sealant
- Inadequate property drainage system
- Poor landscaping design and irrigation
Given the fact that these issues stem almost entirely from improper household maintenance or poor landscaping design, they’re usually fixable. Let’s take a look at what you can do to reduce your likelihood of dealing with a flooded basement and water damage cleanup.
Household Plumbing Failure
Plumbing failures are a major culprit behind basement flooding because any time a pipe fails, the water within the plumbing system will always flow downward. Since your basement is the lowest level of your home, that’s where the water will eventually end up.
Some of the most common pipe issues that result in flooding include:
- Burst pipes
- Leaky water heater tank or tank failure
- Pipe drainage issues
- Water supply line problems
- Main sewer line blockage
While some of these issues seem to occur out of nowhere, diligently maintaining your plumbing system is the best way to reduce your risk of pipe problems and household water damage. Some helpful tips:
- In winter, when pipes are most likely to burst, make sure your pipes are adequately insulated and exposed to warm air to avoid the need for emergency water removal.
- Schedule routine drain cleaning to ensure your drainage system operates efficiently.
- Replace your hot water tank when it nears the end of its manufacturer-recommended lifespan. Inspect the tank for potential issues annually.
- If you notice any performance issues with your main sewer line or water supply line, have a plumber inspect the system immediately.
Sump Pump Failure
If your home has a basement, it should also have a sump pump. This pump sits within a sump pit, which collects water that naturally migrates through the soil around your home. The pump is designed to keep the lowest level of your home dry by pumping excess water out of the sump pit and away from the building.
Obviously, if the sump pump fails, it can’t pump water out of the pit. If you’re not aware of the issue, that water will eventually overflow into your basement. Though these machines are generally very reliable, proper sump pump maintenance and functionality testing are critical. Here’s what you need to do:
- Periodically check the pump to make sure it’s standing upright. Operational vibrations can cause it to tilt slightly over time.
- Routinely check the GFCI outlet the pump is plugged into. If the GFCI trips, it cuts off power to the pump, rendering it nonoperational. Reset the outlet if necessary.
- Periodically remove the pump from the pit and clean the grate at the bottom. Over time, small stones and other debris can get caught in the grate, which can block the inlet, reduce pump efficiency, or damage the machine.
- Periodically check that all discharge pipe vent holes are clear.
- Check the pump’s outlet pipes regularly. Make sure they’re securely attached and drain at least 20 feet away from your home’s foundation.
- Occasionally dump a bucket of water in the sump pit to double-check that the pump starts automatically when enough water enters the pit. If the water doesn’t trigger operation, have the pump serviced at your earliest convenience.
If you don’t have a sump pump, have one installed as soon as you can to reduce your risk of lower-level water damage. Even if you only have a crawlspace, a pump will help prevent water accumulation that can deteriorate the foundation of your home.
Poorly Maintained Gutters & Downspouts
Gutters and downspouts are designed to collect roof runoff and direct that water away from the foundation of your home. But if your gutters or downspouts become clogged with debris, water cannot flow through them efficiently.
Instead, water will overflow out of the gutters and land directly around your home’s foundation. If enough water gathers there — which isn’t uncommon during particularly heavy rains — it can seep through tiny cracks in the foundation and enter your basement. Fortunately, this issue is easy to solve: Keep your gutters and downspouts clean.
Deteriorating and improperly placed gutters and downspouts also heighten your risk of basement flooding. Here’s what you can do to reduce your risk:
- If you notice gutter cracks or leaks, call a professional to schedule repairs.
- If you can see that your downspouts are draining too close to your home, reposition them or have a professional do it for you. Ideally, downspouts should extend 10 feet away from your house.
- Replace your gutters according to the manufacturer-recommended timeline. Steel and aluminum gutters typically last about 20 years, perhaps longer with proper maintenance. Copper gutters can last 50 years or longer with routine care.
Though your gutters may not command your attention often, do your best to be mindful of them. A little routine maintenance can go a long way toward preventing basement flooding and emergency water removal.
Inadequate Basement Sealant
When a basement is under construction, the contractors must seal the foundation and tiles properly to prevent groundwater from traveling through the walls and floor. If the sealant is improperly applied, of poor quality, or left undone, water can easily travel through basement seams.
If you have a sump pump but your basement routinely accumulates water during heavy rains, the flooding may be due to inadequate sealant. You’ll need to contact a professional who can examine the room and recommend the appropriate course of action.
If you need new sealant, dealing with the issue promptly is the best way to avoid chronic flooding, emergency water removal, and water damage restoration.
Inadequate Property Drainage System
If your home is in a low-lying area or a place that’s particularly prone to water accumulation, your yard should have a drainage system. That system should collect water from the various low points throughout your property and direct that water toward a larger municipal drain, usually located near the street.
If your yard is prone to water accumulation and you don’t have any type of drainage solution, you may be at risk for basement flooding. Heavy rainstorms and rapid snowmelt can cause substantial pooling around your yard, and if that water has nowhere else to go, it can easily end up in your basement.
Implementing drainage solutions is one of the easiest ways to prevent water damage to basements in low-lying areas. Consult with a landscaping drainage specialist who can recommend and install the most suitable drainage system for your property.
Poor Grading or Irrigation Design
The land around your home should slope downward to direct water away from the foundation. If it doesn’t, you may be at serious risk for basement flooding and water damage when the soil around your house becomes oversaturated with water.
If you think you have a grading issue, you’ll need to consult with a professional who can assess the property and determine the appropriate solution.
Similarly, if sections of your irrigation system are designed to distribute water in the area immediately around your home, your house may also be at risk for basement flooding. If you have an in-ground system, you’ll need to have the offending sections of the system rerouted so they don’t spray water too close to your house.
Contact Kiser Construction for Emergency Water Removal in the Twin Cities
If you’re dealing with basement flooding in your Twin Cities home, contact our team at Kiser Construction right away. We specialize in emergency water removal, pipe burst cleanup, structural drying, water damage restoration, and reconstruction services for households in Elk River and the surrounding metro area.
For water removal services, give us a call today at 763-633-2010 or send us a message to get started. If you need immediate assistance, please call our 24/7 emergency response line at 612-518-8852.