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What Causes Water in the Basement?

A common challenge that homeowners face is water in their basements.


A common challenge that homeowners face is water in their basements. Not only is a wet basement a pain to clean up, but it can also ruin other parts of the room. It can damage the walls in your basement, leave stains on your floors, or even cause mold to grow if left untreated.

Flooded basement interior

At Foundation Recovery Systems, we’ve been helping homeowners keep their basements dry and odor-free, protecting the air quality in their home and making their basements a livable space. Not only do we fix the issue, but we also educate you throughout the entire process so you know exactly what’s happening. 

If you’d like a free inspection for repairing basement water issues, including wall moisture or floor cracks, contact us by phone or e-mail today! We serve throughout central Missouri and Eastern Kansas, including Kansas City, Columbia, Moberly, and Springfield.

What Causes Water in The Basement?


Under ideal conditions, you would never have to contend with a basement leak. Unfortunately, there may come a day where you step into your basement only to find standing water or seepage making a mess of your cultivated space. You have to attend to the source of leaking or flooding quickly if you want to retain your basement’s structural integrity, not to mention the overall value of your home.  

There are a few different ways to explain a basement leak. More often than not, however, you can look to one source: hydrostatic pressure. 

Hydrostatic Pressure 

Hydrostatic pressure as a term describes the pressure put on your home by the moisture in the ground. This force can put your basement’s structural supports under significant stress. That moisture changes the size of your structural supports’ molecules to the point where said supports crack to compensate for the rapid transformations. 

As your supports crack, they’ll allow more moisture in your home. You’ll not only see more significant flooding or seepage, but your pipes will be at a greater risk for damage due to the higher humidity levels in your home. In short, hydrostatic pressure not only begets leaking but puts multiple structures inside and outside of your home at risk for long-term, expensive damage. 

Other Sources of Basement Damage 

There are, of course, other forces that can cause your home to begin leaking. These can include: 

  • Tree roots 
  • Pest infestations 
  • Sinking soil, or the “clay bowl effect” 
  • Freezes inside of your home 

Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to determine which of these forces is working against your home’s structural integrity. If you come home to find water in your basement, but you’re not sure which of the above forces may have caused the structural supports within your home to allow in a leak, you can reach out to the professional contractors in your area. Together you can inspect your basement and determine not only which of the aforementioned forces has damaged your property but how best you might work against it. 

There is always a chance that the water damage you’re experiencing may be coming from inside of your home. Your water heater, in particular, can cause a lot of trouble for your property’s structural supports. 

Understanding a Water Heater Leak 

Water heaters can rupture or even explode if too much pressure builds up internally. An automatic shut-off valve can help you control the overall degree of pressure your water heater experiences. 

However, valves do not solve all your problems for you. It is possible for the damage to your water heater to be so extensive that the valve will only delay the inevitable. With that in mind, you’ll want to reach out to the professionals in your area to either attend to the damage or to remove the water heater from your home entirely. 

Fixing a Leaking Water Heater 

The good news is that should a leaking water heater be the primary source of a leak in your home, then its repair or removal should eliminate that water damage that you’re seeing. However, it is possible for a leaking water heater to increase the amount of hydrostatic pressure your home has to endure. Much like a leaking pipe, it can generate pressure inside of your home, allowing exposed wooden supports, drywall, and other features to start taking on water. 

If this is the case, you’re still going to want to work with area professionals to fix up any supports that have begun to suffer from water damage. This process can be as simple as replacing a damaged joist, or it may involve patching up one of your walls. In either scenario, or those outstanding, you can still consider installing home waterproofing measures, as they can prevent any damage that went unnoticed from worsening due to the influence of outside forces. 

As mentioned, there are other forces that can work against the overall structural integrity of your home. These can include: 

  • The “Clay Bowl” Effect. If your home was built recently, or you built it yourself, then you’re more likely than other homeowners to find yourself contending with the clay bowl effect. The clay bowl effect refers to the state of the earth beneath your home after you’ve excavated and backfilled a foundation. Excavating your foundation in the first place is a necessary burden, as is backfilling that space. When you replace the soil you initially removed, however, there are going to be more gaps in your land than there were before you began building. As such, your foundation and basement are going to be more vulnerable to water damage, simply because the soil beneath your home will be more porous. 
  • Broken Pipes. There is always a chance for the leak you’re contending with to originate inside of your home. The pipes in your basement, for example, are far more sensitive to damage than they initially appear. If these pipes end up exposed to high levels of humidity, they can develop cracks or even burst, especially in the dead of winter. 
  • Leaking Stairwells. If you have to step outdoors to reach your basement, then your hatchway can cause a few unwarranted problems for the overall structural integrity of the space. A mismatched hatchway, for example, or one that’s suffered from damage in the past can allow rain and snow into your basement on a regular basis. Not only will that unwanted moisture cause problems for your hatch, but it can also damage the stairwell you have leading down below your home. 
  • Leaking Walls. Your walls can also fall victim to unexpected damage as the seasons start to turn over. Hydrostatic pressure, for example, can cause cracks to form in your wall’s structural supports. In turn, the drywall can begin to pull away from these supports all while water makes itself at home in your basement. 
  • Floor Cracks. Much like your walls, your floors can suffer from cracks and allow unwanted moisture into your home. Hydrostatic pressure is once again the most common force behind these types of cracks. However, pests and tree roots can also cause your basement floor to start to sink into the ground at an uneven rate. 
  • Leaking Basement Windows. If you have windows in your basement, you’ll want to make sure they’re well sealed during the damper parts of the year. Basement windows often rest on lower grades than the rest of the accessories surrounding your home, if only for their affiliation with window wells. As such, when it rains or snows, that precipitation will make its way straight for your wells and, subsequently, your windows. If you don’t have a strong seal established in your windows or a liner in place in your wells, that water has near-direct access to your basement. Once inside, it can raise your electric bills, sprout mold clusters, and generally make life in your home a little more complicated. 
  • Tree Roots. While the trees around your home aren’t going to deliberately damage your basement, they can. Tree roots, after all, provide nutrients for their trees’ future growth. As such, tree roots will grow toward sources of moisture and nutrients. If there’s a significant amount of groundwater near your basement or foundation, then these roots will make themselves at home there. In doing so, these tree roots can cause the soil around your home to shift, leaving gaps in their wake. Gravity can then force your foundation or basement’s structural supports to cave into those gaps. Even If the movement around your home is minimal, that kind of shifting can severely disrupt the structural integrity of key supports around your home, further resulting in leaks. 
  • Pests. Like tree roots, animals and insects can start to burrow their way both into and around your home. Certain types of animals, for example—rabbits, groundhogs, and other digging creatures—love to create their burrows in places that they know to be warm. Unfortunately, these creatures can leave behind burrows that are 45 feet long or longer beneath the foundation of your home. Gravity, in turn, can force your foundation and basement’s structural supports into the gaps these burrows leave behind. In turn, your basement floors can buckle, your walls can destabilize, and your home can lose some of its value as leaks break out throughout your space. 

It is always in your best interest to try and repair a leaking basement instead of allowing a leak to fester. However, many homeowners find themselves concerned about the cost of basement repair. The good news is that homeowners have the option to set their budget ahead of time when working with contractors. After a thorough home inspection, you can look over a free services quote and determine which of the available services may suit you best. Unfortunately, trying to DIY a basement solution can have several setbacks, including: 

A Loss of Money 

There’s always a chance that you’ll actually spend more money on a DIY basement repair solution than you would on professional aid. After all, professionals already have the tools and materials they need on hand or nearby. You, on the other hand, may have to go about purchasing special equipment to kick off your DIY work—an expense that can cost you a significant sum of money for little payback, if you don’t have a reason to use those tools again in the future. 

Similarly, the materials you’ll be in the market for may cost you more as an individual party than they would cost an established contractor. Contractors, after all, can establish business-to-business partnerships with their suppliers, securing materials discounts along the way. Without that kind of help on hand, you may find yourself staring down a mountain of work with your repairs budget already blown wide open. 

Damaging Your Home 

Without years of experience backing your work up, there is always a chance that you may do more harm to your home than good in attempting a DIY repair solution. Not only will this effort lend to your loss of money, but it may further destabilize your home. 

Many DIY basement repair projects address the symptoms of your leak instead of the cause itself. In the midst of your work, you may end up covering up the real damage already done to your home. Given time, the damage you’ve overlooked may grow significantly worse, to the point where you find yourself having to face even more substantial repairs in the future. This can include intense seepage, flooding, and even foundation damage requiring a total re-pour. When you work with a professional, alternatively, you can get to the core of your home’s troubles while referencing a quote provided to you after an initial home inspection. 

Collaborating with Professionals in Your Area 

Protecting your basement from seepage and flooding doesn’t have to be a challenge. The experts working in your area have contended with this kind of damage before. They can help you identify the source of unwanted water in your home and seal it safely. Later down the line, they can also help you install those waterproofing measures that can help you avoid seeing repeat damage in the future. 

Ready to dry out your basement? Reach out to the contractors with Foundation Recovery Systems to schedule a free home inspection and repair quote


Floor Cracks

FloorCracksA common cause for wet basements is water rising up through the basement floor through cracks. These can be easily and effectively repaired with a proper perimeter drainage system and by restoring the floor.

Plumbing Flood

Plumbing failure is a common reason for house floods. This kind of damage can be extensive in walls, floors, and with everything stored within the flooded area. To prevent plumbing floods, there are a few different factors to look at that may need repair, like failing washing machine hoses, alarm system for sump pumps, or leaky water heater units.

Wall Cracks

WallCracksCracks are a common issue with poured concrete walls. As the concrete cures its volume shrinks, which can cause cracking over time. A common solution offered for wall cracks is Polyurethane foam. It is injected into the crack expands to fill the entire crack all the way through the wall to prevent future flooding. However, Polyurethane crack injections are not the best solution in some cases. More severe wall cracks often require stronger wall repair solutions, like Carbon Fiber Wall Repair strips, IntelliBrace™ I-Beam Wall Repair Systems, or Basement Wall Anchors.

Water Heater Flood

flooded basementWater heater issues are one of the most common reasons for household flooding. When they rupture or burst, several gallons of water can pour out into your home very quickly. Our BasementGutter™ Perimeter Drainage waterproofing systems is an easy installation and great way to prevent these types of floods.

Sump Pump Failure

A sump pumping system’s sole purpose is to capture and safely discharge intruding water before it permeates past the perimeter of and damages your basement. If sump pump failure occurs, your basement is in danger of flooding.

SumpPumpFailureCommon reasons for sump pump failure include power outage, mechanical issues, or improper installation. We offer the SafeDri™, battery backup sump pumping system and SafeDri™ alarm to ensure your sump pump never shuts off or floods in the event of a power outage.

All of these waterproofing issues could lead to severe damage to your home. No matter how the water is entering your basement, our dedicated experts at Foundation Recovery Systems have seen it all. Our experienced staff is able to come and diagnose the issue that’s causing water to enter your basement and provide a recommendation for a waterproofing solution.

To learn more about the services we provide to waterproof your basement, call us at 800-974-9543 or e-mail us today for a no-obligation, free basement waterproofing evaluation!

FRS Service Area Map with Des Moines

Our Service Areas

Des Moines Location

2401 SE Creekview Dr.
Ankeny, IA 50021

Kansas City Location

211 SE State Route 150
Lee's Summit, MO 64082
(816) 774-1539

Moberly Location

1401 US-24
Moberly, MO 65270
(660) 202-8662

Springfield Location
1820 N Barnes Ave
Springfield, MO 65803
(417) 612-8286
St. Louis Location

1625 Larkin Williams rd.
Fenton, MO 63026
(314) 207-9995