The Causes (and Risks) of Seeing Water in Your Basement Cove
Most homeowners don’t go into their basements very often, and they rarely complete a full evaluation of the space. However, the truth is that you can learn a lot about the state of your house with a quick look around your basement. Water in the basement cove (the area where the walls meet the floor), for example, is a sure sign that there are problems in your plumbing or foundation. This is why it’s important to learn what you should do when you find water in your basement cove.
Signs That There Is Water in Your Basement Cove
Learning to recognize signs of dampness, seepage, and leaks in your basement, especially in the cove, is important. To an extent, identifying dampness or leaks in your basement is the same as recognizing it in any other part of your house. Signs of dampness include:
- A musty smell
- Standing water
- Discoloration and stains (on the floor and lower walls, especially)
- Visible mold
- Build-up of small crystal-like formations along the bottom of the wall
A Groundworks waterproofing expert should be called as soon as possible to have the space assessed and repaired.
The Potential Causes of Water in a Basement Cove
There are a variety of things that could cause water to seep into the cove area of your basement. Some are relatively easy to fix, while others are signs of a much larger (and more deeply rooted) problem that will require serious repairs.
These are the most likely causes of water you see in your basement cove.
- External Flooding
If you have ground-level windows in your basement or outdoor access that is not fully sealed, it’s very likely water will get into your basement when there is heavy rain or flooding outside. Likewise, uncovered vents can let in water, too.
If the problem is this simple and the water gets in as an oversight, all you need to do is fix that issue. If, however, there is an ongoing issue, you should check the sealant around your windows and basement access as well as all vents.
- Hydrostatic Pressure
Despite being one of the biggest problems basements can face, hydrostatic pressure is not as widely discussed as it should be. Hydrostatic pressure is, to put it simply, the weight and pressure of resting water, usually subterranean. While there is always some water in the earth, homes on or under the water table face more hydrostatic pressure.
Of course, homes are designed to withstand the average amount of hydrostatic pressure in any given area. If, however, there is a prolonged or extreme change in climate, like a drought or flood, the pressure level changes drastically. This can cause cracks, settlement, and ultimately dampness in your basement.
- Internal Leaks and Plumbing Issues
Small leaks, such as leaks caused by cracks in piping or weak joints, often go undetected unless they cause water pressure to drop significantly or are signs of dampness. In many cases, water from these small leaks will pool in the basement, even if they originate higher in the house.
Alternatively, there may be a problem with your sump pump that can cause issues like this. If the pump is backed up or a blockage is causing it to drain slowly, it can cause dampness (rather than full-scale flooding).
- Clogged Footing Drains
Footing drains are, by their nature, unseen. However, problems with dampness in your basement are likely to stem from clogs and blockages in this system. These drains can be found around the perimeter of your property but will have to be excavated to be checked and cleared. When functioning well, they funnel excess water away from your home. They act as a small but vital part of the larger systems used to prevent flooding and dampness in a property.
If you regularly have issues with your footing drains, most professionals will suggest waterproofing your basement with an interior drainage system to mitigate the issue altogether.
Removing Water from a Basement Cove
Once a problem like this has been identified, it is vital that you find the cause and repair the damage as quickly as possible. Sadly, fixing the root cause of water seeping into a basement cove is not always as easy as sounds. Broadly speaking, however, there are four steps.
- Remove Any Standing Water
In extreme cases, there can be feet of standing water in a basement with flooding problems. In the event that this happens, the water will need to be pumped out of the basement so the source can be identified.
Standing water in a basement is a real health and hygiene concern for both you and your home. The ramifications of letting it stand for any length of time include mold and mildew growth, rising dampness, and even foundational issues.
- Find the Source of the Water
Once all standing water has been removed from your basement, it will be easier to find out what the source is. There are many reasons why water could be flooding or seeping into your basement. The amount of standing water you see and the rate at which the basement refills (if it does) is a good indicator. For example, a burst pipe is dramatic and hard to miss, but crystalline deposits along the bottom of the wall indicate a more subtle problem causing efflorescence.
Identifying the source is generally the most complex and time-consuming task. For a start, there may be more than one cause, especially if water is gathering in more than one area of your basement coves. As such, this work should always be undertaken by a Groundworks waterproofing professional.
- Repair or Remove the Source
The extent of repairs required depends on the cause and how long the dampness has been gathering. For example, water leaking into the basement from a cracked pipe may require a simple replacement. However, if the leak has been going on for months, you could also see damage in your walls and floorboards in the rooms between the leak and the basement.
Once the source has been identified and fixed, most professionals will suggest waterproofing your basement to prevent a recurrence. This may seem unnecessary and expensive, but it is one of the most effective ways in which you can prevent mold, mildew, and dampness from gathering in your basement once more.
- Dry Out and Maintain the Basement
Once the water has been removed and the cause identified and repaired, any mold and mildew will need to be removed. The goal, of course, is to make sure your basement is clean, dry, and safe again. Once this has been achieved, a professional will suggest how you can maintain this. Waterproofing your basement is the most logical and likely solution as it will effectively remove the danger of recurrence in the long term.
Call the Experts When it Comes to Basement Care
Sadly, water seeping, leaking, or flooding into your basement is simply one of those issues that requires a significant amount of time and money to fix. It can be tempting to attempt to fix the issue yourself, but in doing so you may simply roll the problem forward and allow it to grow. Bringing in professional help from a Groundworks basement waterproofing expert could save you a lot of trouble and money in the grand scheme of things.
After all, there’s no point in simply covering up an ongoing problem with a DIY quick fix. From basement waterproofing to sump pump repair and interior drain installation, we offer a range of solutions and can cater to properties of any size. There really is no problem too big or small.