Your basement can flood at any time. Even if your basement has never flooded in the past your not immune to basement flooding. While it is true that most basement flooding occurs during the spring thaw or after storms, your basement can flood even during dry weather. Basement flooding can occur due to foundation leaks, ground seepage from a high water table, sewage back up, storm sewer back up, pipe problems and from surface water sources.
Your basement, and indeed everyone’s basement is very prone to flooding. Water lies beneath the ground in the form of groundwater. Ground water can rise above the level of your basement floor. Your sewer access is likely in the basement as well, including both storm and sanitary sewers. Roots from trees often break into and clog up sewer lines causing back ups, and that backed up water will go right into your basement, pumping in raw sewage into your home. The force of gravity often is to blame for the flooding of basements, gravity naturally moves water from high to low.
There are pathways for water to enter your basement, some intentional and some not. To better understand the causes of basement flooding you need to understand the pathways that water will use to enter into your basement or around it.
Wall cracks will allow water into your basement, so these should be sealed professionally. If you have window wells in your basement these should have a cover or water may enter your basement. Floor cracks can allow ground water to rise up into your basement. Your sanitary sewer line will gave a clean out pipe in your basement, if it is not capped you could experience the unpleasantness of raw sewage being forcefully pumped into your basement in the event of a sewer backup. The weeping tiles around your house or in our basement if you have them can become blocked with debris or become collapsed preventing them from doing their job and hence cause flooding issues. The surface of the ground surrounding your home can also cause flooding if the lot grading is poor. Poor lot grading would be where the ground slopes towards your home rather than away from it. You can also find your basement flooded if your pipes end up with loose joints or cracks in them.
How can your basement flood during dry weather? Well your sanitary sewer lateral can degrade with the passage of time, much like your roof which needs to be redone every 15 to 20 years. As this process of degradation occurs your sewer line can be penetrated by tree roots, become blocked or even collapse. Your lines can also become blocked by flushing down the wrong things into your toilet, toilets were meant to only flush down toilet paper and human bio waste, nothing more. In this scenario your own homes waste water will be the water which floods your basement, raw nasty sewage.
Another cause is foundation drainage failure. This happens more in lower lying areas and communities that are generally wetter than others. Homeowners foundation drainage systems in these areas must work continuously or near continuously just to keep the ground water level lower than the basements floor. These drainage systems are either gravity powered or pump powered. These drainage systems can become easily blocked with sediment and debris preventing the drainage system from functioning and causing your basement to eventually flood.
Most of these basement flooding problems can be addressed before your basement ever floods. A licensed professional plumber should be consulted if you are experiencing basement flooding frequently to address the root cause. Most causes of basement flooding are due to poor maintenance on the home, such as forgetting to have your sewer lateral inspected every 5 to 10 years or performing routine inspections of your homes drainage systems. To prevent basement flooding you should have your homes plumbing systems inspected every 5 years at least. It is far better to prevent a basement flood than to clean up after one and deal with it’s aftermath.
Chuck Rivers is a Master Certified Plumber with Powerhouse Plumbers a 24 hour emergency plumbing contractor and has been helping property owners with plumbing challenges for 26 years.