Why Basements Leak and How We Can Fix It


Rain is great for your grass, garden, and flowers, but not so great for your home if it is leaking into your basement. Basement flooding is a problem that can be solved quickly, and because it is a significant investment, it is worth your time to learn which options will work best for you and your basement waterproofing needs. Many houses and basements have water problems, and the first step to solving that problem is to understand why it leaks into your basement in the first place.

Causes of Basement Leaks

Basements can flood from pretty much anywhere, such as from walls, windows, floor cracks, stairways, pipes, or hatchway entrances. The most common causes of basement leaks are due to the pressure created by water found in the soil surrounding your foundation. The two most important factors that contribute to this happens is the clay bowl effect and hydrostatic pressure. 

What is the clay bowl effect?

Before your home is built, contractors begin the building process by digging a hole in the ground to make room for your basement and foundation. To do this, the contractor has to dig a hole that is larger and wider than the space that your home will need. In this space, the foundation will be built, and the concrete floor will be poured. Once the foundation is built, some of the excavated soil is used to fill the gap around the outer edge of your foundation, which is known as “backfill.” Eventually, this soil becomes loose and fluffed from the excavation. 

The backfilled soil that surrounds your foundation will always be looser and more absorbent of water than the dense and hard-packed soil around it, known as “virgin soil.” In this situation, a “clay bowl” around your house is formed and it creates an unnatural water table around your home. Water collects the most around your foundation, which is exactly where you do not want it to go. View the picture below to see what we mean by the “clay bowl effect.” 

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What is hydrostatic pressure?

As we all know, water is heavy and as the soil around your home becomes soaked with moisture, the soil expands and the weight of the water will press up against the foundation, which is known as hydrostatic pressure. As hydrostatic pressure builds up against your foundation, water will guide its way in through your foundation. If you have block walls, water can pass through the block and fill the open spaces. The more pressure there is, the more water leakage there will be. 

How American Waterworks Can Repair It

At American Waterworks, we recommend installing one of our basement wall systems, like CleanSpace, which is a 100% waterproof plastic vapor barrier with a 25-year warranty. It is flexible enough to cover uneven surfaces or abnormal walls, and it is a great way to prevent moisture from making its way through your walls. 

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Another product we recommend installing is one of our interior drainage systems and our TripleSafe sump pump system. Our drainage systems are designed to collect water seepage, which drains into the sump pump. From there, our sump pump will discharge the water outside of your home, keeping your basement dry. 

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The last thing that we recommend is installing a reliable, energy-efficient dehumidifier. Typical, retail dehumidifiers are not powerful enough to keep a basement dry. The dehumidifiers that are sold at hardware stores typically fill up within 8-12 hours. We recommend our SaniDry XP Basement Dehumidifier because it creates dry, clean air, it reduces risk of mold growth, and it never needs to be emptied. 

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Annual Maintenance

Schedule an annual maintenance with our service team to check on your home’s waterproofing system to ensure that it is working correctly, and to help find any problems before they find you. 

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These waterproofing products are not the only ones that we provide for homeowners. No matter how your home is constructed or what kind of problems you may be facing, our waterproofing products can be combined to create a solution that is best for you and your home repair needs. To learn more about how our systems can work for you, contact us today or fill out or online FREE estimate form!


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Our Locations:

American Waterworks
1307 Valleyhigh Dr NW
Rochester, MN 55901

American Waterworks
4119 14th Ave N
Fargo, ND 58102
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