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Common Drainage Problems That Cause Basement Leaks

Updated: Apr 11

Poor drainage can cause a myriad of problem with your home. These can include structural damage to the foundation, insect infestations and mould. All of these are expensive to correct, but often the causes of poor drainage can be remedied easily. Here are some common drainage problems that could be the culprit of your basement leaking:

1. Poor Grading on the Property

Perhaps the most common drainage problem is poor grading on the property. Water flows downhill and if your home is at the bottom of an incline, water will move to the lower elevation. If you have slopes, it is essential that the runoff is directed to a drainage system, such as a pipe or a ditch. Slopes must be strong enough to withstand excess water or soil will erode. You may even end up having landslides if the topsoil is lifted by the excess water.

In some cases, the contractor may follow the requirements laid out in the local code regarding the slope required on the lot, but the soil has high clay content. The clay content causes the soil to resist absorbing moisture, and low areas hold standing water more readily.

More commonly, the soil that is filled in around the foundation settles and becomes the perfect spot to collect water. This water seeps into the ground and enters the basement through cracks in the foundation wall. These recesses may be obscured by plants, bushes and raised planting beds. These plants, and even the mulch around shrubs, can prevent water from draining away from your home’s foundation.

Grading problems are not always the result of a contractor. Many yards that were once properly graded develop problems. Trees and bushes may develop roots systems that redirect water by raising the adjacent earth. Sometimes landscaping projects change the slope of the property in certain areas and excess water ends up coming towards the building, instead of the direction it was originally intended to go.

2. Clogged Pipes

Another common problem is that the outlet pipes for foundation drains are clogged by debris. Water cannot pass through the pipe, so it pools near the foundation instead. Alternatively, some homes were never equipped with the proper size of pipe when they were built. If there is a heavy storm, the rainwater backs up as the pipe is too small to handle the volume of water.

3. How Rain Water is Being Directed in Your Yard

Lastly, water accumulating around your foundation can be a direct result of how you are directing rainwater in your yard. Design your landscape so that water ends up in the street drain through a pipe, and is not allowed to flow across your yard undirected. You can also install grass swales to direct water away from your home. A swale is a shallow grassed ditch that collects storm water and then directs it away from the house.

Regardless of what the reason is for water collecting around your home, it is critical that you get it attended to quickly. Water problems can escalate from minor to major and the expense goes up proportionally.

If you have water issues in your home, Nusite Waterproofing can give you professional advice on basement waterproofing in Toronto and help when you need it.

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