I have a problem whereby there is a leak in my basement wall where the wall and concrete floor meet. Apparently, the weeping tile has broken and thus the seepage. Unfortunately, the problem is under my front planter and cannot be repaired from the outside. I had someone come and put some sealant on and make a drainage hole in the concrete floor. I was flooded in July and water came in the problem area. I am a widow and at this point really do not know where to get expert advice on how to have the problem solved.
We have a finished basement. During the summer months when we have a
heavy rain we get some water seeping in and wetting the carpet. We now
have a musty smell. Can you advise how to correct this problem by stopping the water from coming in and also getting rid of the musty smell.
Basement seepage and moisture intrusion into basements is one of the most common problems reported by homeowners. According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (C.M.H.C.) publication “Building Solutions”, foundation problems can be divided into two major categories: “Those which result in structural deterioration and damage, and those which result in water leakage and moisture damage”. We will be dealing with the latter, but both problems may have similar causes.
Most basement moisture problems occur from a failure of the home’s waterproofing and drainage systems. These include the weeping tile drainage system, eavestrough and downspout drainage, grading, and foundation waterproofing.
Moisture can enter the foundation walls through cracks, holes, or worn out waterproofing from rain or snow runoff and hydrostatic pressure. Hydrostatic pressure sounds complicated, but is simply the water pressure that builds up in the soil due to high moisture content from heavy rains, high water table, or snow runoff. This pressure may force moisture into a foundation or basement floor ignoring the natural flow of water by gravity. This is also one of the major causes of structural damage mentioned earlier.
Several simple things can be inspected by any homeowner to help determine which of the above are causing the leaks. Many seepage problems are the result of deteriorated or plugged eavestroughs and downspouts that empty too close to a foundation wall. Go outside when it is raining and see where the water from the home’s roof is going. Are the gutters overflowing and the water running down the walls? Are the downspouts dumping on the soil right by the foundation wall and is there a depression in the soil? Or is the rainwater flowing freely and being directed to a well sodded swale 1-3 metres from the house?
Check the grading around the house. The soil adjacent to the foundation should be built up to provide a slope away form the wall and windows should be above the grade or have window wells installed. If the soil is depressed due to soil erosion or window wells plugged with debris, general landscaping and cleaning may solve a minor seepage problem. For a good reference book on this subject contact C.M.H.C. at 1-800-668-2642 or www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca to order “Investigating, Diagnosing & Treating Your Damp Basement”.
The above remedial actions proposed may provide some relief for the second reader’s seepage, but adding more ventilation to the basement is critical to removing the musty smell. Opening basement windows when the weather allows, operating basement exhaust fans, and running the furnace fan on continuous low speed will help. Adding a fresh air intake to the furnace cold air return or into the furnace room is a good idea, if one is not already present. A dehumidifier is also a fairly effective method for reducing moisture, but should not be a substitute for improved air flow in the basement.
The problems described by the first reader sound like a more serious situation caused by plugged or non-functioning weeping tile. The band-aid measures already attempted will do little to help the situation. The first things that should be attempted are the simple ones suggested above. If these fail to adequately remedy the situation, the only solution may be removal of the front planter and excavation. Digging down to the footing, waterproofing the foundation wall and replacing the weeping tile may be the only option. The weeping tile under the basement floor may also have to be replaced after removing several sections of concrete. Both of these are very costly, but may be the only way to eliminate the moisture completely.
My recommendation for expert advice can be sought from one (or both) of two sources. Firstly, a structural engineer will give an impartial assessment of the situation and possible remedial action. If he or she recommend repairs mentioned above, then the second expert should be called. I recommend obtaining estimates from 3 or more reputable foundation contractors for the repairs. Ask friends or neighbours who have had similar work done and confirm with the engineer that the work you decide upon is what is needed.