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How to Stop House Basement Water Seepage

Updated on November 2, 2011

Correct Site Drainage

Stopping water seepage into a basement may be possible. There are some things that can be done to try to eliminate the water from entering the basement. Dealing with a wet basement can be difficult since a dark cool basement can often lead to mold issues. A basement is a good place for storage since the temperature in a basement stays somewhat constant throughout the year. This is not the case, if water and mold are present. The water can result in a great deal of expense from property damage, repair, and possible health issues. Try following the steps of this article to identify and eliminate water seepage into a basement.

Step 1. Inspect the gutters and downspouts around the roof of the entire house. Drainage should flow freely into the gutters, down the downspouts and away from the perimeter of the house. If gutters are clogged, it will cause water to overflow resulting in large amounts of water to possibly be absorbed in the ground near the house. Downspouts should also be kept clear of debris. Use a hose or high pressure water to wash out the gutters and downspouts.

It is recommended to extend the downspout water exit points at least 4’ to 8’ away from the perimeter of the house. This can be done by getting downspout extensions or by adding a flexible non-perforated plastic pipe to the end of the existing downspout. The majority of homes with water seepage in the basement do not have long enough downspouts.

Step 2. Check the grading around the perimeter of the house. The grading should allow water to flow away from the house in every direction a minimum of 25 feet. The overall grading of the home site should promote drainage to flow towards the street, ditches, or open water storage areas such as a pond, lake, river, or stream. A good rule of thumb to use for grade is at least 1/4” fall per foot (2%). Provide a steeper grade if the site allows. Use a smart level or a string line with an inexpensive line bubble level (about $2) to verify the slope.

Step 3. Provide a low permeability clay on the top 6” of the ground around the perimeter of the house. This type of clay resembles modeling clay and is known technically as fat clay or A-7-6 soil. The clay will help to allow the water to run off away from the building instead of being able to seep into the ground and into the basement.


Step 4.  Look for open sources of surface water near the basement.  Water that is allowed to pond near the home has the potential to become ground water and travel the path of least resistance to a lower point.  The path of least resistance would likely be the basement.  Determine if any of the areas that allow water to pond can be filled in or diverted with ditches or underground drainage away from the building.

Step 5.  Investigate underground water.  Well logs and drilling records can be looked at to see where the normal ground water elevation is located.  Check with your State department of natural resources or the department that approved septic systems and ask for well records near your home.  Also contact the city or county engineer’s office to find out what they know about groundwater in your area.  Also look at storm sewer pipes, septic lines, sewer lines, and water lines.  Try to see if the seepage that is entering the basement is water or waste water.  Sometimes underground lines develop leaks and can cause leakage into a nearby basement.  Dye can be put into the lines to see if it is the water that is entering the basement.

Step 6. Install a perimeter drain around the basement walls with a sump pump.  Try the other steps first.  If they do not resolve the issue you will have to install a drainage system around the outside of the basement.  This step can be expensive, but will solve the issue unless the house was built in an area with a constant ground water elevation above the floor elevation of the basement.  The drainage will then lead to a sump pump that can be used to mechanically pump the water away from the basement walls.


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    • profile image

      Shelly for real? 3 years ago

      Don't watch FOX news!

    • Allen Douglas profile image

      Allen Douglas 5 years ago from Midwest USA

      Actually, I am a professional engineer who is quite the opposite. I would never recommend patching a basement with coal patch or any other material without addressing the drainage issues. I would not recommend ignoring the fact that it may be possible to divert the water and not just try to hold it back like a dam. Unless your basement is directly next to a river or lake and there is no way to divert it to a lower elevation, then never treat your basement like a dam.

    • profile image

      Shelly B. 5 years ago

      Funny how you don't mention applying Coal Tar Pitch? You must be a environazi. There is nothing dangerous about Coal Tar. It is all natural and is cheap. That is why the lies are made up by liberals. They are being paid off by corporations who want to ban traditional products. Right EPA! Time to end this draconian takeover of wealth and freedom and vote Conservative now and forever...

    • Dave Framer profile image

      Dave Framer 6 years ago

      I think this is pretty close to being true, around all basemnt homes you should have at least 4" perforated drain wrapped with a soil impedimnet cloth and a #67 washed gravel bed, the basement wall should also have a waterproofing coat of some type, there are a few options here,you then have a permeable membrane( with dimples against the wall)to let the water run down to the the drain pipe, this drain pipe should extend 100 feet to daylight away from the house,the grade should be 6" in ten feet away from the house, last always check behind your gutter crew to make sure they do not tie into your drain lines, always use a quality water proofing company, will save you time and money in the long run

    • profile image

      Allen Douglas 7 years ago

      It sounds like your basement is providing the path of least resistance for the groundwater. Here are a couple of options to investigate. First, find out more data about the groundwater. From what you described, the groundwater appears to fluctuate greatly after rain. This makes the problem sound more localized rather than a regional groundwater issue. Talk to your county engineer, local EPA office, DOT office, and the agency responsible for issuing permits for septic systems in your area. Ask for groundwater monitoring data. This will give you more information about the groundwater levels and how thick and extensive the sand layer is around your area. Look for localized drainage problems that may be contributing to water entering the sand layer such as ditches that do not flow properly.

      Look for another oulet for the sand layer. Is there a location on your acreage that could be excavated below the elevation you your basement that would intersect the sand layer? You could excavate a temporary basin to allow groundwater to fill up this basin away from your house. To stop groundwater from entering the house, do everything in the article above to minimize water infiltration as much as possible. To take extreme measures, consider a slurry cutoff wall. This is an excavation around the perimeter of the house, backfilled with a bentonite ground. Water will not go through this wall. The wall should be offset away from your basement walls at least 3 feet. Find out more about the sand layer before taking this step because if the sand layer extends all the way under the basement floor, it will not help. Provide some more feedback when you get more data.

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      ger 7 years ago

      i have a big problem..i live on an acreage that is well treed and also have a big supply of underground water..a spring we are told under our house and it comes up through the sandpoint hole..we have had as much as 3and 1/2 feet of water in our basement..each time it rains we seem to get do i keep this from happening year after year.. i already have a sump pump down the sand point hole in the basement and clay water mix coming up the hole that was put in for the can i keep a basement dry so it doesn't become a breathing problem in the future..i do not have a floor drain that goes to the septic tank..any ideas would be greatly appreciated..this water has damaged a lot of cement and have caused cracks in the me watered out