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Poor Foundation Drainage

Worried about poor foundation drainage? Knowing the cause can help with finding the right solution and our experts can help.

water pooled next to house

Poor Foundation Drainage: Causes to Look out For

Basement waterproofing relies on the proper drainage of water away from your home and the expansive soil bordering your foundation and basement. Structural damage can result from poor drainage, both internally and externally. The sooner you get on top of the problem, the better.

Proper drainage is important for protecting your home. Stopping water from getting into your basement prevents several issues from occurring, including mold and mildew growth, structural damage, and humidity problems. Not taking measures to install foundation drainage can have costly ramifications.

The amount of rain our service area sees throughout the year means that foundation drainage needs to be high quality and capable of handling a generous flow of water. This drainage must direct water away from the house and surrounding soil. The right experts will provide drainage solutions that ensure water in the basement is collected and drained a healthy distance from your property.

What Happens with Poor Foundation Drainage?

The foundation is the root support structure of your home. The health of this structure is critical to maintaining a safe and secure home. A foundation with cracks in the floors and walls becomes a liability. In particular, foundation cracks that run horizontally are warning signs that repair work needs to be done as soon as possible. These faults threaten the structural integrity of your home and should not be left unattended.

Foundation drainage is vital for preventing such cracks from developing internally. Drainage that directs water well away from the home also minimizes the hydrostatic pressure the surrounding earth can apply. Hydrostatic pressure is what happens when water-soaked soil pushes against the foundation walls. This pressure can be immense, and will eventually cause cracks to form in the walls. Water is then pushed into these cracks, forcing them wider, and allowing water to pour into the basement itself.

Equally important is removing water from the basement. Allowing water to collect in your basement will result in odors, pests, mold, mildew, wood rot, wet carpet and drywall, concrete spalling, and high indoor humidity. Any items kept in the basement are at risk of being water damaged too.

Installing proper foundation drainage does more than keep your basement dry. It keeps your home safe, comfortable, and structurally secure, highlighting its importance and value for peace of mind.

Causes of Foundation Drainage Problems

Experts will be able to identify problem areas and the root cause of any issues with your drainage. You can also monitor these common sources of drainage problems for worrying signs. Some of these issues are due to inefficient drainage systems, and others are sources of water leaks. 

  • Window Well Leaks

Window wells can become damaged over time from wear and tear. As the frame warps or the seal loosens, water and debris can leak into your basement. Over time, the damage grows until the leak is pronounced. Depending on the amount of rainfall you see, this can be a significant problem. Further, if your drainage outflow is near the window it can create a circular effect as the water leaks back inside.

Window well leaks can be identified even when it’s dry. Wooden frames will often be misshapen and swollen with dampness, along with any paint showing visible cracks and splintering from the shifting wood. The well itself may have visible damage, showing exactly where the water is entering. Finally, there will be water stains and marks streaking around and below the window well.

  • Malfunctioning Sump Pump

A sump pump’s purpose is to forcefully expel water from your basement. A malfunctioning sump pump will either cease working completely, work sporadically, or pump with reduced efficiency. This causes drains to back up and overflow, leading to a flooded basement. Given the humidity and rainfall many regions see, keeping a basement dry is important. A sump pump that is unable to do this will need to be replaced.

A too-small sump pump can also be a problem. If the pump is unable to handle the volume of water in your home, it will wear itself out or leave the basement to flood. Some sump pumps can also be clogged by debris, highlighting the importance of anti-clog intake valves, which our preferred sump systems are equipped with. 

  • Blocked or Damaged Drains and Gutters

A blockage at any point in a drain or gutter network can cause a backflow of water. This will force water to find an alternate route, which usually means back to where it came from. Alternatively, the water will force its way through any leaks or weak areas in the pipe network. In systems using a pump, this can even cause a burst pipe, although this is a rare occurrence.

Blockages in gutters also prevent water from being drained effectively. Outdoor and roof gutters often see blockages form as leaves and other debris become lodged in the network. 

  • Drain Outflow

Even if a drainage network is working at peak efficiency, the outflow can still cause problems. Ideally, water outflows should direct water away from the basement walls. Not doing this allows water to settle directly beside the basement walls and soak the soil. This will eventually cause hydrostatic pressure to develop. In time, cracks will form in the walls and allow the water back inside, creating a never-ending cycle.

  • Foundation Cracks 

Regardless of how well your drainage system works, if you don’t stop the source of the water leaks, the problems will never be resolved. Foundation cracks in the floor and walls can allow water to seep into the basement. These faults are one of the major causes for water in the basement and drainage issues, especially in locations that see heavy rainfall.

FAQs About Poor Foundation Drainage

Checking on your foundation often enough is a crucial element of ensuring that you catch foundation problems early on. It’s also important if you have problems, as you can keep an eye on the problems you’re experiencing so that they don’t get worse. Here’s a bit of information about how often you might want to check on your foundation.

  • With No Problems

In general, you’re not going to have foundation problems, which means you’re just going to check your foundation often enough to ensure that you’re not developing problems. It’s recommended that you make a routine of checking your foundation every year. This should help you identify any developing issues and still have time to apply solutions.

This can feel superfluous when you’re not expecting to have problems, but foundation issues are insidious as well as uncommon. Skipping your inspection one year could lead to double trouble the next; foundation problems have a habit of growing with exponential and frightening speed. The sooner you catch foundation damage, the easier it will be to deal with. 

  • If There Are Existing Problems

If there are any existing issues with drainage or cracks in the floor and walls, you should increase the frequency to once a month. This allows you to apply fixes and correct your approach along the way. Of course, the best way forward is to schedule a routine checkup with a professional. Their insight will let them see more subtle warning signs so the problem doesn’t get out of hand before it is identified.

Unless you have experience and training in structural repair, you should have a professional inspection booked for once a year. Having a professional eye on your property every year will ensure that you catch all problems early, thereby making sure that you can deal with them before they have a chance to snowball. 

What’s wrong with not having enough foundation drainage? Many problems can arise if you don’t have adequate foundation drainage. Typically, these problems arise either because of problems with the foundation itself or because of problems with whatever is coming into the foundation.

  • Home Tilting and Moving

Damaged foundations can cause a house to move. Weakened foundations can lead to a house tilting or shifting, which can cause cracks to worsen. In these severe cases, the overall structural integrity of the whole house is compromised. It may not seem like water can do this, but it can. Ensuring that your foundation has proper drainage will maintain its structural integrity.

A property can move either sideways or down; settlement and subsidence occur when the property and its foundations begin to sink as a result of incompetent soil. Moving sideways, however, has a huge amount to do with the integrity of your property’s foundation as a whole. If your foundation is incompetent, it may start to slip in adverse conditions. 

  • Foundation Water

Keeping a basement dry and free of persistent moisture will also stop mold from growing. Mold found in homes is usually harmless, if unpleasantly smelly, but some varieties are toxic when inhaled. Wood rot can also spawn in damp, humid environments, which can cause damage to any wooden supports and structures in the basement.

As such, it’s pretty clear that poor foundation drainage is bad for your property and your health. The results can be cracks in your walls and foundation, rot in exposed wooden structures, and damage to your respiratory health. You could even end up with irritation to your skin, eyes, throat, and nose as a result of the spores in the air.

When it comes to your foundation, it’s important to make sure every job is done appropriately. There are certain things you can do yourself, while other tasks should be left to the professionals. Here’s what you need to know about fixing problems on your own.

  • Blockages and Clogs

For the most part, cleaning blockages and clogs is something you can do on your own without creating any problems for the future. You can clean your gutters and pipe intakes of any blockages and ensure that this is done regularly if clogs are frequent. Sometimes this can be done by hand, but there are easy to use tools at your disposal, too. 

Drain snakes, for example, will help you to detach stubborn debris that is deep inside drains or otherwise out of your reach. These are easy to operate and pose little risk of damaging your property, drains, gutters, or pipes. As such, it pays to have one in the home at all times, even if it’s just on hand for emergencies. 

  • Temporary DIY Solutions

If your drain outtake isn’t expelling water far enough away from the foundation, you can install a quick but temporary solution. Drainage trays can be placed under the outflow to funnel the water farther away from the home. This is a temporary fix, but it will give you some breathing room to arrange for a professional solution.

While there are temporary DIY fixes that you can undertake, we do not recommend that you attempt a DIY fix for any actual damage to your property. This is because repairs often require specialist tools, skills, and knowledge. A faulty DIY repair could end up causing far more damage than was there originally, and this will cost more money. 

  • A Permanent Fix

There are always DIY solutions for repair jobs around the home. In some cases, these fixes are appropriate and will work. When it comes to installing foundation drainage systems, it’s highly recommended to leave the task to the experts. Since this is a complicated process, you may spend more money doing it yourself, and if it’s poorly installed, it could cause your home more damage.

Experts, like those at GroundWorks, will be able to assess not just the damage, but a range of different solutions to find the best possible answer for you. By finding a tailor-made solution, a professional will give you a complete, permanent fix the first time that you raise an issue. This will save you time and money while also lowering stress.

Every home has unique needs when it comes to drainage. Solutions could involve anything from replacing drainage matting to a new sump pump to outtake extensions. The solutions you use for fixing poor drainage will rely on a variety of elements, including but not limited to repairing what you already have and replacing it with new options.

  • Repairing Existing Systems

Ideally, you want to be able to repair your existing systems – this is not only cost-effective but far more convenient. This is typically less invasive, less expensive, and more effective. However, you have to catch the problems early to be able to do this, which means you need to regularly think about your foundation drainage.

As such, a robust inspection and maintenance schedule should be at the top of your to-do list. This will prevent avoidable breakdowns and damage while ensuring that warning signs of foundation damage are brought to your attention quickly. This will let you act before issues have a chance to snowball.

  • Replacing Your Current Systems

In some situations, you might have no choice but to replace the systems you have. This is most common if you haven’t had an inspection in a long time and conditions around your foundation have seriously deteriorated. After an inspection, Groundworks experts will be able to give you a clear-cut answer on the way forward.

If you do want or need to replace any (or all) of your current systems, it pays to make sure that you are choosing energy-efficient appliances and durable products that are compatible with each other. This will ensure that you get the best possible result from your new basement waterproofing system. If you get the right system for your home, you will feel the benefits immediately. 

Waterproof Your Basement with Foundation Drainage Solutions

Poor foundation drainage can lead to many worrisome problems. It is vital to get on top of any drainage issues before they spiral out of control, leading to property damage and compromising the structural integrity of the home. Getting a professional on the job will allow you to benefit from insight and expertise on how to best protect your home. 

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