Whether you use your basement for entertaining or for storage, you want the space to be as comfortable and watertight as possible. Unfortunately, forces like hydrostatic pressure can rapidly upend your plans. A home that isn’t protected from the weather in Missouri, can suffer from severe water damage, including the kind that can transform a stable floor into a leaking, uneven mess.
Luckily, professionals serving Kansas City, Moberly, St. Louis, and Springfield, MO, can help you both repair this kind of damage and prevent it from appearing in the first place.
Leaks in Your Basement Floor: The Causes
There are a few different forces that can cause your basement floor to leak. These include:
- Hydrostatic Pressure – The most common force to work against your home, hydrostatic pressure forces your home’s structural materials to change size on a molecular level. Rapid changes in size can cause the structures in question to come under a significant degree of stress. That stress, in turn, can result in cracks and damage that lead to a leaking basement floor.
- Tree Roots – Tree roots do not attack your home. Instead, they can grow beneath and around your foundation, creating hollows in the soil as they go. Your basement can then unevenly sink into those hollows. As a result, your basement floor may begin to sink or otherwise become uneven.
- Oversaturated Soil – Certain types of soils are more prone to water absorption than others. If you live on mineral-rich clay, your soil may expand in the summer and contract in the winter. Expanding soil tends to press up against your home, forcing your walls and floor out of position. Come winter, when those molecules contract, your home can slip out of position, causing your basement floor to leak.
- Damaged Structural Supports – Certain pests, including termites and carpenter ants, can eat away at the structural supports beneath and within your basement. This damage can cause your floor to begin sinking, making it more vulnerable to ever-present hydrostatic pressure and localized leaks.
Signs of Basement Floor Damage to Watch For
It can be difficult to notice when your basement takes on damage. Sometimes the damage comes on so slowly that it can seem as though your basement is fine one day and severely damaged the next. The silver lining in these situations is that you can determine when it’s water damage specifically that your basement floor is contending with. Basement floors that have started to sink or that release water when you step on them are in immediate need of professional attention. If your kids can bounce on your basement floor or have transformed yours into a skate park for all of its unevenness, you’ll also want to get in touch with area contractors.
There are ways to notice water damage making its way into your home before your basement floor reaches this point. You can schedule annual home inspections with the professional contractors serving Kansas City, Moberly, St. Louis, and Springfield, MO. During these inspections, you can walk through your home with a professional and identify the early signs of high humidity or moisture in your home.
Some of the most common signs to keep an eye out for before your basement floor takes on damage include:
Increased Levels of Humidity Throughout Your Home
If you have a hygrometer in your home, it can rapidly become your best friend. Hygrometers help you determine whether the humidity in your home remains at a consistent level. Homes with higher levels of humidity are more prone to moisture damage, especially during the colder months of the year. That humidity can transform into more tangible forms of water or even get absorbed into your concrete, wood, carpeting, and other materials while still in its gaseous form.
Once your humidity’s sunk in, it can increase the amount of hydrostatic pressure that your home’s contending with inside of your home. That pressure can cause as many cracks as hydrostatic pressure outside of your home. Worse, it can cause any pipes running through your basement to crack open and leak. Not only will you notice a drop in your water pressure, but those leaks can weaken a basement floor even faster than your standard high levels of humidity.
Cracks Throughout Your Basement
Hydrostatic pressure and other forces tend to cause cracks to appear throughout your basement. These cracks will most often appear near your doorways or windowsills. However, you can also notice them toward the joints of your basement. There are a few different kinds of cracks that can appear in and around your home. These include:
- Horizontal cracks
- Diagonal cracks
- Vertical cracks
- Brick and mortar cracks
Horizontal and diagonal cracks tend to indicate that hydrostatic pressure and local flooding is having an immediate impact on your home’s overall structural integrity. Diagonal cracks, however, also indicate where that water may be working most effectively. Vertical cracks, comparatively, tend to indicate a failure on the part of obscured structural supports. Brick-and-mortar cracks can be attributed to different forces outside and inside of your home but often reflect the stress that your walls or slab are under. You’re not likely to see brick-and-mortar cracks in a basement that’s suffering from a leaking floor unless that damage has migrated from the floor to the walls.
If you notice standing water inside of your home or even around the exterior perimeter of your home, then you have an immediate problem on your hands. Standing water tends to indicate an oversaturation of the soil around your property or of the concrete inside of your home. When water is no longer being absorbed by these materials, there’s already too much at work inside of them for those materials to remain structurally sound. You’ll want to reach out to an area professional as soon as possible to have your home inspected and to remove what standing water has remained in or around your home from the area in question. Once that water is out of the way, you can more accurately assess the damage you’re contending with.
Leaking Basement Floors
Your basement floor can start to leak for a myriad of reasons. Some of the most common include:
Contending with Hydrostatic Pressure
Hydrostatic pressure is a force that consistently works against the structural integrity of your home. Moisture, as it comes into contact with the concrete or other materials making up your concrete floor, will affect that material’s stability on a molecular level. In many cases, cool water will force concrete molecules to shrink, whereas warming temperatures will cause those molecules to grow in size.
Too many changes of this kind can put your basement floor under a significant amount of stress. That stress can see your basement floor start to crack. Similarly, any supports you have in place may begin to show signs of wear. All this damage can go one step further, allowing even more moisture into your home. Before you know it, you may have to deal with not only floor damage but standing water inside of your basement.
Other Sources of Damage
Hydrostatic pressure is often the primary force behind the damage that’s done to your basement floor. That doesn’t mean that it works alone. You can also trace some of the damage in your basement to the presence of tree roots or pests near your home. These forces can cause hollows to open up beneath your home. Your foundation—and subsequently your basement floor—can start to sink into these hollows, making both structures more vulnerable to hydrostatic pressure as well as to cracks.
Getting ahead of this damage doesn’t have to be a challenge. Instead, you can work with area contractors to invest in home waterproofing solutions as soon as you move onto a new property. Waterproofing measures will reduce the amount of hydrostatic pressure that your basement floor has to contend with. In turn, your supports will remain sturdy for longer, meaning your floor should never grow bouncy, sagging, or uneven.
Any homeowner concerned about the cost of repairing their home can explore DIY basement floor repairs. Unfortunately, these repairs are often worse for a home than they may initially seem.
The Cost of DIY
DIY basement floor repair often costs far more than most homeowners anticipate. After all, homeowners who want to do this kind of work need to have both the tools and materials they need on hand before they can even start repairing a basement floor.
If you’ve never worked on a leaking basement floor before, you may not know precisely what to do with the materials you’ve brought home. Even if you have an instructional video or guide on hand, you can make mistakes along the way. Those mistakes can cost you in materials, sending you back to the hardware store for replacements. At the end of the day, you easily lose more in time and money conducting DIY basement floor repair than you might reaching out to area professionals.
The Potential for Error
Mistakes made during DIY basement repair are more than just costly. They can also have long-term impacts on the overall stability of your home.
Once you’ve finished repairing your basement floor to the best of your ability, you may think your work is done. However, when you don’t have experience repairing basement floors, then you may only cover up the damage that you’re contending with. In these cases, that damage can fester out of sight until it puts even more of your home at risk. When you do eventually call professionals in for guidance, your future repairs will be more costly than they would have had you reached out to area professionals in the first place. Not only that, but professionals will have to remove your DIY repairs before installing their own, meaning that your initial purchases will have been for naught.
While repairing your damaged basement floor on your own is a bad idea, it can be worse to let the damage sit. Don’t let your concerns about a repair budget keep you from investing in home repairs. The sooner you’re able to restore your floor’s stability, the sooner you’ll be able to enjoy the comforts of your basement again.
Repairing Damage Before It Worsens
Damage that you let sit for an extended period of time tends to get worse instead of getting better. As hydrostatic pressure gathers in force, it can begin to make its way into different parts of your home. For example, if this pressure causes cracks to appear in the joints of your basement, it can migrate into the wooden supports holding your home’s floor in place. There, it can oversaturate those materials until they become havens for mold. The structures can weaken to the point where your floor may be bouncy and unsafe to walk on.
With that in mind, it is never safe to let damage in your home sit. That damage will not go away. If the symptoms you originally saw in your home appear to disappear, reach out to a contractor as soon as possible. The damage you’re dealing with may have migrated down to your foundation, where it can wreak even more havoc on your home.
Retaining Your Home’s Value
The longer you let water damage sit in your basement, the more value it’s going to sap from your home. You can sell a home that’s actively suffering from basement damage. However, you must note that damage on your home’s listing as well as that damage’s source.
If you fail to fix a damaged basement floor before selling a home, expect to lose up to 30 percent of your home’s market value in your final sale. Buyers, after all, will want to be compensated for the repair work that they’ll have to do once you’ve left the property. If you’re looking to save money when selling your home, it’s often best to get your initial repairs out of the way before buyers tour your property.
Repairing a Damaged Basement Floor
You should never try to repair a leaking basement floor without professional help. The professionals serving Kansas City, Moberly, St. Louis, and Springfield, MO, have enough experience to look at your floor and determine where things went wrong with the moisture in your area.
When it comes to fixing a leaking basement floor, these professionals have a few different options available to them. Some of the most common solutions used to bring your basement floor back up to snuff include:
- Crack sealants – If your basement floor is made out of concrete, professionals may first recommend sealing up any cracks that have emerged over the years. The degree of work this takes will vary based on the depth of the cracks in question. However, sealing the cracks in question is not a permanent solution for your home. If you’ve reached the point where your basement floor is actively leaking, the cracks you’re dealing with are just a symptom of a larger problem deeper in your home. Even so, you’ll want to make sure the cracks are sealed up before you have any home waterproofing measures installed, or else they may beget additional damage in the future.
- Piers – If your basement floor has started to leak or sag, it’s possible your foundation’s taken on some damage. One of the best ways to lift both your basement floor and your foundation back into place is to install piers. Helical, push, and slab piers can all stabilize and potentially elevate your foundation and basement floor back into their original positions.
- Soil stabilization – If area professionals can trace the damage that your basement floor is contending with to your soil, you can invest in means to stabilize your lawn. Polyurethane injections can stiffen up your soil, fill any hollows that have emerged beneath your home, and lift your uneven concrete basement floor.
Home Waterproofing Measures
Whether you’ve just wrapped up your repairs or want to get ahead of potential damage, you can explore a catalog of local home waterproofing measures. The measures installed in your basement can help create a physical or chemical barrier between your belongings and moisture, lessening the amount of hydrostatic pressure your structural supports have to contend with.
Some of the most effective basement waterproofing measures include:
- Interior drainage systems – Catching any leaking water before it has a chance to damage your basement is important. An interior drainage system does just that. A series of specially perforated pipes sit just below your floor to intercept water leaking from your basement walls and floor. This water is then directed to drain into a sump pump system so it can be properly removed.
- Sump pumps – Sump pumps drive water out of localized parts of your basement. While these waterproofing devices do require both electricity and an internal drainage system to work effectively, you can equip them with additional accessories like a backup battery to better protect your home from both moisture and mold.
- Vapor barriers – More commonly seen in crawl spaces, professionals can install vapor barriers on your basement walls. These barriers are made of a thick plastic-like material that is dense enough to keep moisture and most gasses out of your home.
- Waterproof insulation – You’ve likely already insulated your basement. Thermal insulation serves as a physical barrier between your basement and the outdoors, but waterproof insulation takes that protection one step further. Waterproof insulation provides you with a chemical barrier that actively drives moisture away from your home.
Get in Touch with Area Professionals
When the time comes to repair your leaking basement floor, you’ll want to work with professionals. Luckily, Kansas City, Moberly, St. Louis, and Springfield, MO, are home to contractors who can help you overcome all manner of basement damage. You can reach out to these experts at Foundation Recovery Systems to schedule a free home inspection at your leisure. Once you’ve determined what’s going wrong in your basement, you’ll have the opportunity to explore potential repair options courtesy of the free services quote provided by the team you worked with.
Don’t let a leaking basement floor get the best of you. Whether you need to repair damage or get ahead of your area’s bad weather, you have people who can help in your area.