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It’s a frustrating mystery that doesn’t seem to give you any clues. You keep finding wet spots and water in the basement. No rain has fallen recently, so the damp downstairs just doesn’t make sense.
Where is that water in the basement coming from? You can’t see through concrete, so how do you figure out the source and solve the problem?
You need to do a little handyman detective work. We deal with wet basements every day through our water cleanup services, and we’re happy to share our professional knowledge.
7 Reasons for Water in the Basement That You Can’t Blame on Rain
The downstairs isn’t supposed to surprise you with unexpected damp spots and unexplained puddles. When it does, you can probably blame one of these seven soggy scenarios.
1. Plumbing Problems Upstairs
Slow leaks in pipes above the basement don’t always show up in its ceiling. When you see water in the basement after no rain for weeks, look for plumbing problems upstairs. Start with an inspection under first floor sinks, tubs and toilets.
Power Tip: Check basement appliances too. You might be dealing with a leaky washing machine or water heater.
2. Breaches in the Building Envelope
Your home’s building envelope includes its windows and doors, and the seals around these areas degrade over time. As aging caulking shrinks and cracks, it allows moisture to seep in. Eventually, gravity pulls accumulated damp downstairs creating wet spots in the basement when no rain is actually falling outside.
Power Tip: Inspect seals around windows and doors for signs of trouble at least twice a year.
3. Small Roof Leaks
You know how quickly our infamous Chicago rain storms can flood the basement. A small roof leak doesn’t cause the same damage, but it can let in water that slowly travels down roof trusses through your home’s wood framing and into the basement. The results are wet floors downstairs several days after the rain moves out.
Power Tip: Pinpoint small roof leaks by checking the attic during a heavy rainfall.
4. Cracks in the Walls
Cracked mortar on exterior walls can work like a series of canals. The fissures accumulate water that slowly moves down into the basement where it shows up as damp areas on walls and puddles on the floor. This kind of seepage results in a humid atmosphere that breeds unhealthy mold and mildew.
Power Tip: If the basement seems to stay wet regardless of the weather, check the walls for excess moisture.
5. Water Table Fluctuations
As the ground water level naturally rises and falls in the yard around your home, it generates hydrostatic pressure against the foundation. Both rainfall and winter melt-off affect the water table here in Chicago. This can lead to water in the basement even though no rain has fallen recently.
Power Tip: Consider installing French drains around your home’s foundation.
6. Our Compact Soil
The compact clay soil that makes it hard to garden in this part of the state also creates problems downstairs. It expands with heavy rains, contracts during dry spells and constantly exerts lateral pressure on foundation walls. The result can be water in the basement with no rain in the forecast.
Power Tip: Push back against this type of pressure by fixing basement wall leaks as soon as they appear.
7. Slow Draining Mains
Sometimes, you can blame the city for water in your basement after no rain for weeks at a time. Our aging infrastructure can’t always keep up with growing neighborhoods, and that can back up water and sewer mains. Keep your sump pump in top operating condition just in case.
Power Tip: Think about installing a backwater valve to prevent sewer pipes from backing up through floor drains.
Here for You Rain or Shine
We’ve covered the most common causes for wet basements that we deal with as the city’s largest home water damage restoration company. If you’d like to add to our list, we welcome your input. Join our conversation through our Comments Section, and share your experiences with water in the basement.
Our teams are always here for you rain or shine with basement water cleanup services across Chicago and the suburbs. We can help you figure out the problem and solve it too. Give us a call here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba, and let us put our industry knowledge to work in your wet basement.