what causes basement flooding - foundation damage

What Causes Basement Flooding? We Give You All the Answers!

If you’re interested in finding out what causes a basement flood, then this article is for you.

If your home is built partially underground (hey basements, we’re looking at you!), chances are you’ve experienced, or will experience, a flooded basement. Let’s discuss the common causes and what to do in case you experience this emergency.

4 Common Causes of Basement Floods

1. Sump Pump Failure

A sump pump is installed in a basement or crawlspace in a sump pit. The role of a sump pump is to keep the area under the building dry and prevent floods. The sump pump removes water from under the home. 

A torrential downpour or a power outage can lead to a sump pump failure and cause groundwater to flood the basement through the sump pit. It is crucial to regularly ensure the maintenance of your sump pump.

what causes flooded basement - sump pump failure
Unfortunately, sump pump failure is the cause of too many flooded basements. Purchasing the correct sump pump (see Resources below for our Guide) and maintaining it are the keys to preventing this from happening to you.

2. Sewer Backup

A torrential downpour can also result in clogged sewers, leading to sewage backup and overflow. When filled beyond capacity, sewage will flood basements by entering through a floor drain or toilet.

A backflow device, typically located in the front yard, makes sure that the city’s sewer can not back up into your home. 

Another explanation is tree roots breaking into your mainline (sewer line) and causing a backup. in this case, you might need to have your sewer line jetted. This is a highly effective method that thoroughly cleans your sewer line and keeps roots growing back for up to 7 years. Here’s everything you need to know about hydro jetting.

camera line inspection - cracked pipe
Tree roots are a common cause of broken and backed-up sewer lines. Hydro-jetting the sewer line every two years is the best prevention. It might also be your only answer if the problem has already occurred.

3. Foundation Damage

Most structures are built with a drainage system in the foundation to remove water from the basement and foundation. This ensures that any water entering the basement will drain before causing a flood, or mildew and mold.

Water can enter through cracks during heavy rain, among other ways. It is important to certify your property has a functional drainage system. Additionally, proper grading or downspout extensions reduce the risk of flooding through cracks.

foundation damage - what causes basement flooding
Homeowners don’t often investigate the foundation of their homes. They typically notice the problem when spotting water damage problems inside the home or basement.

4. Water Pooling

Water pooling around the foundation can cause major damage. Gravity will pull water down and it will find a way into your basement.

A lack of adequate grading, or clogged gutters and downspouts, can lead to water running down the walls of your home and property to gather at your foundation. A landscaper or plumber can help you determine the grading you require to prevent this.

what causes basement flooding - water pooling around foundation
Water pooling around the foundation of your home is the most obvious clue that you might have (or will have) damage to your foundation.

How to Prevent Basement Flooding: 4 Solutions

To avoid a damaging flood, confirm that your drainage systems and preventative measures are functional. 

1. Measure & Grade Yard Slope

To prevent basement flooding caused by improper grading around your home, find a landscaper skilled in grading or try a DIY approach.

To do it yourself, walk around the yard to determine which way your yard slopes. Run a string (keep it taut) with a level on it from the high point to the low point. Measure the ground at your lowest point all the way up the string and you will know how much slope you have.

Then shovel compacted soil along the length of below-grade walls to form a two-inch-per-foot slope around your foundation. If you like, add some topsoil, mulch, and plants to make the slopes attractive.

measure slope to grade yard - what causes basement flooding
It’s vitally important to measure the slope of your yard to make sure you grade it correctly. The foundation of your house needs to be on higher ground so gravity pulls water away from your home. A landscaper can help with this. Plumbers are also used to grading because sewer and water lines also need to slope away from the house with the correct measurements.

2. Clear Gutters & Downspouts 

First and foremost, clear your gutters and downspouts of any leaves or other debris that could potentially clog them. The purpose of gutters is water diversion, so keeping them clean is paramount to flood protection.

A garden hose and ladder are all you need to clear the downspout from the top. Just place the hose into the opening for the downspout and wash away the debris. Always manually clean out the bottom opening of the downspout before cleaning from the top.

To ensure your downspouts drain far enough away from the foundation, buy some corrugated plastic tubes to extend them further. These can be found at any hardware or home improvement store.

what causes basement flooding - downspout extensions
A simple solution to move water away from your foundation is to add plastic or aluminum extensions to your gutter downspouts.

3. Seal Foundation Cracks 

Cracks in the basement walls are dangerous and are the perfect entry point for groundwater. The water leaks into the house, causing a basement flood.

Unfortunately, a foundation crack doesn’t repair itself over time. You’ll need to get it taken care of. How? We recommend that you contact a basement waterproofing professional who will assess the problem, seal the cracks, and even waterproof the basement if you take it further.

Just make sure you do your homework. There are tons of ways to keep water out of your basement, from sump pumps to french drains to water sealants. Everyone seems to have their own system. And too many systems simply don’t work. Find someone reputable and get three different opinions and estimates.

Crack in basement wall repaired - what causes basement flooding
If you have a crack in your foundation wall, it needs to be repaired before it causes your basement to flood. Cracks can be hair-thin to inches wide.

4. Install & Maintain Sump Pumps 

Monitoring a sump pump carefully is a must, especially during dry weather.

You want to know whether or not it is working before it rains, or you’re looking at probable flooding. A trusted plumber can help repair a broken sump pump.

An additional precaution is to install a backup power source. In case of a power outage, a backup power source can keep your sump pump running and save your home from an expensive basement flood.

TIP: Before you have a sump pump repaired, don’t forget to check your warranty. It might save you some money.

A sump pump system is a great way to keep water from flooding your basement. But it’s wise to spend extra on a backup battery to make sure it doesn’t stop working.


Final Thoughts

There are many answers to, “What causes basement flooding?” It’s vital that you are vigilant about keeping an eye out for the common causes. Just as important, you need to address any problems as quickly as possible.

Sure, it can be frustrating. But trust us, we’ve seen flooding — many, many times — in the homes and basements of our customers. The extensive damage caused is not a pretty sight. Steady vigilance and ongoing maintenance is your least expensive way forward.

Call 1-Tom-Plumber

Don’t hesitate to contact us here or call us at 1-Tom-Plumber (1-866-758-6237) with any of your basement flooding issues. We will immediately handle any emergency plumbingdrain cleaning and drain clearing, and water damage problem, including excavation of underground water lines and sewer main lines.

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