It’s spring and the rain is here! Don’t allow the final home inspection to turn up problems in the basement.  Be aware of tell tale signs of basement leaks and be able to offer the home owner a few quick, inexpensive fixes

Leaks come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

  • Hidden leaks under the soil line can create the stains or wetness during heavy rain or thaw.
  • Cracks, these are often written off as “just the house settling”; but they be a serious leak issue.
  • Dampness, mildew throughout the home.  Moisture is coming in from somewhere.  If not the basement than possibly the roof (part 2)

Basement leakagePotential home owners worry at even the slightest sign of water damage.  If the problems wait until the last inspection repairs may be expensive and hurried. Don’t let leaks steal your profits. Instead offer the home owner a few simple fixes.

Gutters – the number one cause of basement leakage.  Overflow cascades water over the sides and down right near the foundation.

In the same way water streaming through the gutter must come out – just not near the house! Either of these issues can cause leakage.

The fix: Check that the gutters have at least one downspout for every 600 – 800 square feet of roof surface.  Keep gutters clean of leaves and other debris.  Every downspouts needs to extended least 4 – 6 feet out from the foundation.  (Add ons can extend the gutter as far as the home owner wishes.  Just don’t bury the plastic kind they will easily squash.)

Soil Grade – Especially older home have a lowered soil line by the foundation. This allows water to run down against the basement walls and eventually find its way through, either in seepage or by creating cracks.  Water drainage from walks, driveways and patios sloping to the foundation can also find it’s way in.

The fix: Soil should slope downward away from the foundation. Build it up at least 6 inches high. This should extend about 4 feet from the foundation wall. From here the homeowner can choose to slant the soil grade downward as desired.  Use Brown or Mixed Soil, consisting of 20-30%, non organic clay and top-soil, does not blow away, and has plastic qualities to deflect the surface water away from the foundation but allows any plants to grow.

Landscaping – Check any structure that is up against the house. Planters, small sheds or other structural additions might allow water to seep in between, then into the basement.  Also look for bushes and trees   may be allowing water to get near the foundation or be breaking through with roots.

The fix: cut down the old and replace with new growth or sod.

In older homes from 1920’s to mid-1950’s, If the Palmer Valve is not working then the drain tile has nowhere to drain, like a burned out sump-pump. The water sits in the drain tile and under the floor. Having water leaking in the basement is not the first sign of a drain tile issues, any more than when there is a roof leak, as it may have taken years of no maintenance to come to this condition. All the basement wants to do is fill with water, try not to assist this process is prudent.

For wet basements, consider a drain tile test following the WAFRP Standards of Practice with 3-4 test locations.Contractors will perform the test for between $250 to $1100.00,

There is Mr. Chuck Weber Basement Independent Consultant who performs the test in the middle of that fee range, Chuck Weber 414-536-1300. Also for independent basement evaluations try, Mike Shadid  414-379-1265 30 years in basements, does not test the drain tile, but can determine if  a test is warranted.

Any good appraiser will question a wet or stained basement, and may hold up the loan process. A good recommendation is to Never freshly paint the basement walls or floor, as it “Covers” a history of events the inspector is looking to glean information from.