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The Causes of Basement Flooding

Flood Damage
Author: ServiceMaster Restore

Basements are vulnerable to flooding, because they're built partially if not fully below ground. For this reason, basement floods can occur outside of rainy seasons and rapid snowmelts at any time of year, even when the weather conditions are dry. There are several causes of basement flooding, ranging from weather to burst pipes and drainage issues.

Identifying the causes of a flooded basement can help you prepare your home and ensure that your basement is safe from water damage. Here are some of the most common causes of water in basements and what you can do if you are in need of flooded basement restoration.

Most Common Causes of Basement Flooding

A flooded basement can be a nightmare. Knowing and preempting the most common causes for basement flooding is the best preventative measure you can take to keep that nightmare from becoming a reality. Common basement flooding causes include:

  • Improper sealing on the flooring and walls
  • Drainage tile failure
  • Improperly installed downspouts
  • Debris in the gutters (eavestroughs)
  • Water supply line failure (broken, cracked or clogged pipes)
  • Hot water tank failure
  • Sump pump failure

Poor Basement Sealing

When a home is constructed, the basement tiles and foundation need to be sealed properly. This is especially important in areas that are prone to heavy rain, hurricanes, or other severe weather events. Hurricanes bring with them violent wind storms and plenty of rain that may lead to a flooded basement. Additionally, areas that are prone to snow are in danger of melting snow seeping into a poorly sealed basement and causing flooding. If sealing is not done or done incorrectly, water will begin to seep into the basement from the ground over time. If your basement floods during all or most rainstorms, this may be the cause.

Drainage Tile Failure

Every home should have a drainage system built around the building to help ensure that water moves away from and doesn't seep into the home. If the drainage tile system has been installed incorrectly or fails, the basement may experience flooding, especially during heavy rains. To determine if this is the root cause of your flooding basement, it's necessary to have a specialist come out and perform an inspection.

Improperly Installed Downspouts

The purpose of the downspout is to direct water away from the home and its foundation. Downspouts should be at least five to six feet away from the basement wall and drain away from the home, usually towards the street or backyard. If your downspouts are broken or missing, water will pool next to the house and can seep slowly into the basement or pour in through cracks in the foundation.

Clogged Gutters Due To Debris

Like the downspouts, gutters or eavestroughs are essential to divert water away from the home to keep the basement dry. If your home is near trees, your gutters may become clogged with fallen leaves, twigs, seed pods and other debris. Debris impedes water from moving off the roof, through the downspout and away from the home. Make sure to regularly clean the gutters as part of your regular routine maintenance program to avoid any problems with water collecting on your roof. This can be as simple as removing any fallen leaves or twigs in spring, but you may need the help of an expert to ensure that all debris is removed safely.

Overflowing gutters will also cascade water down the sides of the home where it can pool and seep into the basement. About 15 minutes after a storm, go out and check to see if your gutters are directing water away from your home and not overflowing. Any overflowing water may seep into your foundation and cause damage. During a particularly heavy storm, you may also have to deal with a flooded basement floor as a result. Call a professional if you suspect your gutters are overflowing and are in need of repair.

Water Supply Line, Hot Water Tank and Sump Pump Failure

Your basement has three potential sources for flooding contained within it: the water supply line (your pipes), hot water tank and the sump pump, if your home has one. Any time one of these is damaged or breaks, a basement can flood. A water supply line may break because of aging pipes, shoddy workmanship or frozen pipes that ultimately crack and burst. Both hot water tanks and sump pumps should be inspected annually to check for failing equipment. Other potential causes for basement flooding include sewage backup and whether the home sits in a low spot of the property. All homes need to be built on the property's highest point to reduce the risk for basement flooding.

Location of Your Home

If your yard or the land around your home does not slope away from your home, you may be more likely to have a flooded basement. Your home benefits from being located in an area where no excess water from storms, melting snow, or other natural weather patterns will cause water damage. If you notice any depressions around your property where water may pool, fill them in with a clay-type soil. This will help level the lower areas around your home and may help in directing water away from your home.

The problem may not only be in your backyard. If there are any large hills or areas around your property, you may be in danger of a flooded basement. Contact a professional to help you determine what can be done to help you avoid water in your basement during a storm.

Avoid Costly Home Damage From Basement Flooding

By identifying the causes of water damage in basements, you can avoid the need for flood restoration services. However, weather is unpredictable, and it can be difficult to avoid water in your basement in an emergency such as a broken water heater or a leaking or burst pipe.

The professionals at ServiceMaster Restore have seen the full range of basement flooding causes. We'll answer your call 24/7/365 if your basement floods and take care of everything from the water extraction and drying process to mold remediation as needed.