Learn how water can get into your crawl space or basement so that you or your contractor can make the proper repairs to eliminate the problem.
The author, a Winchester resident and licensed Kentucky Professional Engineer, has compiled the following list of common sources of water entering your crawl space or basement.
The items listed can be combined into one simple goal:
Prevent water from reaching the exterior surface of your foundation or crawl space wall or floor.
Improperly diverted roof gutter downspouts
A gutter downspout that discharges water very close to the foundation wall, conveys a large volume of rain water into soil that is in direct contact with your foundation wall. If this occurs and there are any cracks or joints in the foundation, water may have an open path directly into your crawl space or basement.
Improperly sloped or clogged roof gutters
If your gutters are improperly sloped, or if the downspouts are clogged, the gutters may fill up and overflow during a heavy rain. The water overflowing the gutter will fall onto the ground surface near the foundation, soak into the soil directly in contact with the foundation wall and may enter the basement or crawl space through any crack or joint in the wall.
Improperly sloped surface grading around your house
If the ground surface around your house is flat or slopes towards the foundation, surface water, such as rain or flash-flooding, may flow toward your foundation wall, soak into the ground directly in contact with your foundation wall, and enter your basement through any cracks or joints in the wall.
An improperly diverted air conditioner condensate drain line
If a condensate drain line from an air conditioner discharges directly to the ground near your crawl space or basement wall, water may accumulate behind the wall or beneath the floor slab and enter the basement or crawl space through any cracks or joints in the floor or wall.
A missing or inoperative sump pump/footing drain tile system
If your sump pump is not operating correctly, or if the footing drain tile system is clogged, improperly sloped, broken or collapsed, water may accumulate behind the wall or beneath the floor slab and enter the basement or crawl space through any cracks or joints in the floor or wall.
There are several sources of water that originate from below the surface of the ground. Water from these sources may enter your crawl space or basement though any cracks or joints in your walls or floors. Subterranean water sources include natural springs, water-bearing coarse-grained soils such as sand or gravel, a permanently high or perched (temporarily high) water table, or a leak in your water service pipes. Contact your water company if you suspect a leak in your water service pipes.
Could cause structural damage
Water that is trapped and accumulating behind the exterior surface of your foundation or crawl space wall, or under your floor slab, may not only be a leaking nuisance. It may also cause a structural overload or failure of your wall and floor slab. For this reason, do not attempt to waterproof your walls or floor slab prior to correcting the reason that water is coming in contact with your wall or floor.
Contact a structural engineer
If you suspect that you have water accumulating behind your foundation wall or under your floor slab, it may be a serious problem. If this occurs, contact a Licensed Structural Engineer to observe and assess the problem to recommend the appropriate repairs.
This article is the first in a series of coming articles about repairing the drainage problems mentioned in this article. If you would like to receive an email notice whenever a new article is published, click on the “Subscribe” button at the top of this web page.
Click here to see a gutter downspout drain tile project (with slide show and video)