12 Tips for Fixing a Leaky Basement

When it comes to maintaining a home, one of the most common problems homeowners face is a leaky basement. A basement with leaks poses a risk to the structural integrity of the house and can contribute to mold growth and other health risks. This article will examine the indications of a leaky basement and the underlying causes of these leaks. Most importantly, we will provide valuable tips for fixing a leaky basement. Whether you opt for DIY repairs or enlist the help of a professional, these tips will assist you in effectively resolving the issue and protecting your home.

Signs of a Leaky Basement

Before you can fix a leaky basement, it’s important to identify the signs that indicate you have a problem. Some common signs of a leaky basement include:

  • Dampness or water stains: The presence of damp spots or water stains on basement walls or floors indicates a leak. These stains might manifest as yellow or brown marks and may come with a musty smell.
  • Mold and mildew: Excessive moisture in the basement can promote mold and mildew growth. Watch for indicators like black or green patches on walls or a musty odor in the air.
  • Peeling paint or wallpaper: Water seepage can cause paint or wallpaper to bubble, crack, or peel. If you notice these signs, there is likely a leak behind the wall.
  • Cracks in the foundation: Small cracks or gaps may permit water infiltration into the basement. Inspect the foundation walls for any visible signs of damage.

Causes of Basement Leaks

Understanding the causes of basement leaks is crucial in effectively fixing the problem. Some common causes of basement leaks include:

  • Poor drainage: Improper sloping of the soil around your foundation can cause water to pool near the foundation walls, leading to seepage into the basement.
  • Clogged gutters and downspouts: Clogged gutters and downspouts, filled with leaves and debris, may overflow and redirect water toward the foundation, resulting in leaks.
  • Cracks in the foundation: Over time, the foundation of a home can develop cracks due to settlement, freezing and thawing, or hydrostatic pressure. These cracks can allow water to infiltrate the basement.
  • Faulty or inadequate waterproofing: If your basement was not properly waterproofed during construction or has deteriorated over time, it can lead to leaks.

The Importance of Fixing a Leaky Basement

Fixing a leaky basement is about more than just preventing water damage and mold growth. It is also about safeguarding your home’s structural integrity and ensuring your family’s health and safety. Excess moisture in the basement can weaken the foundation, leading to costly repairs. Additionally, mold growth can trigger allergies, respiratory problems, and other health issues. You are investing in your home’s long-term stability and well-being by promptly addressing a leaky basement.

Tips for Fixing a Leaky Basement

Before you can fix a leaky basement, you need to find the source of the leak. Here are some tips to help you locate the source:

Determine Where the Water Is Coming From

Before embarking on any repairs, it’s essential to determine the source of the water infiltration. Basements can be susceptible to water entry from both indoor humidity and external sources. Indoor humidity can condense on cold surfaces, just like a cold glass of lemonade on a hot day. On the other hand, water or water vapor from the outside, such as rainwater, melting snow, or groundwater, can seep through cracks in the foundation or walls.

To pinpoint the origin of the water, perform a simple test. Attach a sheet of aluminum foil to your basement wall and let it remain there for a few days. If moisture accumulates outside the foil, it indicates high indoor humidity. On the other hand, if moisture is present behind the foil, it suggests that water is leaking through the walls. This initial assessment will guide you in implementing the appropriate solutions for your situation.

Get Rid of Excess Humidity

Excess humidity can exacerbate basement water issues, making it crucial to minimize its presence. You can take several steps to prevent humid air from entering your basement. Start by sealing leaky dryer vents with foil tape, as these can be a common entry point for humid air. Additionally, consider installing an exhaust fan in your basement bathroom and ensure it is used during showers to vent the moisture.

Keeping basement windows closed during humid weather is another effective measure. However, investing in a dehumidifier can significantly reduce indoor humidity levels if condensation persists. It’s important to note that duct tape should not be used for sealing vents, as it may not hold up over time. Opt for more durable solutions like foil tape to ensure long-lasting effectiveness.

Insulate Pipes

Condensation on cold water pipes can contribute to basement water issues, leading to dripping and potential flooding. Insulating cold water pipes with foam pipe insulation is a cost-effective solution to combat this problem. The foam insulation is a barrier, preventing condensation from forming on the pipes. It also offers protection against pipe freezing during winter, which can further avert potential flooding disasters.

Foam pipe insulation is easy to work with, as it can be cut with scissors to fit the length of your pipes. By ensuring that your pipes are adequately insulated, you address a common source of basement water problems. Additionally, consider adding flood vents for enhanced home protection, as these can further mitigate the risk of flooding by allowing water to flow through in the event of a flood.

Insulate Basement Walls

In addition to insulating pipes, it is crucial to insulate basement walls to prevent condensation and further water issues. Cold pipes can contribute to moisture accumulation, which can exacerbate basement water problems. Wrapping cold water pipes with affordable foam pipe insulation will mitigate condensation and guard against pipe freezing during winter.

Similar to insulating pipes, foam pipe insulation can be cut with scissors to fit the length of your pipes. This insulation aids in maintaining a consistent temperature and preventing moisture accumulation. Additionally, consider installing flood vents for increased home protection. These vents enable water to pass through foundation walls during floods, lessening the likelihood of structural harm and basement inundation.

Plug Holes and Cracks in the Foundation

Identifying and addressing foundation cracks that may lead to leaks is crucial for fixing a leaky basement. It is important to note that not all cracks are equal in severity. While simply plugging them may not entirely solve basement leaks, it is a helpful step in preventing further water infiltration. One effective method for patching foundation holes is hydraulic cement.

Hydraulic cement is highly effective because it can cure even underwater and expands during setting to seal the gap securely. To properly apply hydraulic cement, start by widening the hole or crack into an inverted “V” shape using a cold chisel or an angle grinder with a masonry-cutting disc. This shape helps the cement adhere more securely. Consult the instructions on the packaging for proper mixing and application of the hydraulic cement to achieve optimal results.

Waterproof Basement Walls

To ensure your basement remains waterproof, applying specialized coatings that fill the pores of concrete or masonry walls is essential. This prevents water ingress. Before applying any waterproofing products, remove loose material from the walls using a wire brush. Furthermore, a masonry cleaner can remove efflorescence, the white, powdery substance that occasionally develops on masonry surfaces.

When applying waterproofing products, strictly adhere to safety and application guidelines. One common mistake is applying the products too thinly. The goal is to fill every pinhole, forming a seamless waterproof membrane thoroughly. Brush the coating in various directions to ensure complete coverage, and apply a second coat once the first coat has dried. Following these steps will help create a robust barrier against water infiltration.

Install a Drainage System

Installing a drainage system can be highly effective for long-term solutions to persistent basement leaks. This involves laying drainage tubing beneath the basement floor and connecting it to a pump and sump basket. While it is possible to set up such a system independently, it is a labor-intensive process that includes breaking up the concrete floor, burying the tubing, and repairing the floor afterward.

Installing a drainage system redirects water away from your basement, preventing seepage through the walls and mitigating additional damage. It provides a reliable solution for managing water infiltration and reduces the risk of basement flooding. Considering the complexity of this task, it may be advisable to consult with professionals who specialize in basement waterproofing to ensure a proper installation.

Install Drainage Mats for a Warmer, Drier Floor

To create a warmer and drier environment in your basement, consider installing plastic drainage mats known as dimple mats. These mats allow air to flow beneath your flooring while acting as a barrier against moisture. Furthermore, they serve as an insulating layer, keeping your floor separated from the cold concrete.

Installing drainage mats reduces the risk of moisture damage from condensation or water vapor passing through the concrete. This simple addition can significantly improve your basement’s overall comfort and condition. When installing the mats, ensure they are properly aligned and securely fastened to provide adequate coverage.

Install a Sump Pump

A flooded basement can lead to costly damage and health risks. In order to prevent this, a sump pump is installed at the lowest point of the floor. Though it doesn’t require a pit, digging one is often preferred. The pit is lined with a plastic basin and cover, where either a submersible or pedestal pump is installed based on the water table height.

A submersible pump sits inside the pit and is quieter than a pedestal pump. It is also more aesthetically pleasing as it is hidden from view. On the other hand, a pedestal pump is positioned above the pit and is easier to access for maintenance. Whichever type of pump you choose, ensure a reliable float switch activates the pump when the water level rises.

Inspect Your Foundation and Take Notes

You’ll need a four-foot level, tape measure, and notepad to check your foundation. Sketch your house and yard, then use the level to check the slope. Note any sunken soil, garden bed edging that creates a dam, or ground sloping toward the house. Use arrows to show slopes. This will help plan how to redirect water away from the foundation.

In addition to checking the slope, inspect the foundation for any signs of damage or visible cracks. Look for efflorescence, a white powdery substance on the walls caused by water seepage. Note any areas where water accumulates or where you see signs of moisture. These observations will help you determine the best action to fix the leaky basement.

Divert Water Away from Your Foundation

If your basement gets wet during heavy rains or snow melts, regrading the soil near your foundation could fix the issue. Over time, soil settling next to your house can create a depression that collects water and directs it toward the foundation, causing leaks. Avoid using lawn edging and gravel along the foundation, as they exacerbate the problem.

To solve it, create a six-foot-wide slope dropping about six inches away from the foundation. Cover the sloping soil with a 6-mil poly layer, then conceal it with mulch, gravel, or a soil layer topped with grass. This will prevent water from seeping near the foundation. Additionally, consider installing French drains or dry wells to divert water further away from your basement.

Add Gutters and Downspout Extenders

If your basement leaks after rain and you lack gutters, installing them is crucial. Gutters catch rain and direct it to downspouts, channeling it away from the house. Ensure downspouts have four- to six-foot horizontal extensions to effectively move water away from the house, whether you’re installing new gutters or already have them.

Clean your gutters regularly to avoid blockages, which can cause overflow and water damage. Consider installing gutter guards to reduce debris accumulation. Additionally, inspect your downspouts for any blockages and ensure they are positioned to direct water away from the foundation. Install downspout extenders to ensure water is effectively moved away from your basement if necessary.

DIY vs. Professional Basement Repair

Once you have identified a leaky basement, you may be faced with whether to tackle the repairs yourself or hire a professional. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Scope of the problem: If the leak is minor and you have some DIY experience, you may be able to fix the problem yourself. However, if the leak is extensive or if you are unsure of the underlying cause, it is best to consult a professional.
  • Time and expertise: Repairing a leaky basement can be time-consuming and requires some expertise. If you have limited time or lack the necessary skills, hiring a professional who can efficiently address the issue is advisable.
  • Warranty and guarantees: Professional basement repair companies often offer warranties or guarantees. Knowing that a reputable company backs the repairs provides peace of mind.


How much does it cost to fix a leaky basement?

The cost of fixing a leaky basement can depend on the severity of the issue, the cause of the leak, and the chosen repair method. Small repairs can amount to a few hundred dollars, while extensive repairs or waterproofing can cost several thousand dollars. It is best to consult with professionals for accurate cost estimates.

Can I fix a leaky basement myself?

DIY repairs can be suitable for minor leaks caused by simple issues like clogged gutters or cracks. However, if the leak is significant or the cause is complex, it is advisable to seek professional help to ensure the repairs are done correctly and effectively.

How long does it take to fix a leaky basement?

The duration of basement repairs can vary depending on the complexity of the issue and the chosen repair method. Minor repairs may take a few hours to a day, while more extensive repairs or waterproofing projects can take several days or weeks to complete.

Can basement waterproofing prevent future leaks?

Basement waterproofing is an effective measure to prevent future leaks. You can significantly reduce the risk of future basement leaks by installing proper drainage systems, applying waterproof coatings, and addressing any underlying issues.

What are the risks of ignoring a leaky basement?

Ignoring a leaky basement can cause serious consequences. It can weaken the foundation, cause mold growth, damage personal belongings stored in the basement, and pose health risks to the home’s occupants. It is crucial to address basement leaks promptly to avoid these risks.


A leaky basement is a problem that should be addressed. It can cause significant water damage and mold growth and compromise the structural integrity of your home. By understanding the signs and causes of basement leaks, you can take the necessary steps to fix the problem. Whether you select to tackle the repairs yourself or hire a professional, the tips provided in this article will help you resolve your leaky basement issues and prevent future leaks. Remember, prompt action is key to maintaining a dry and secure home. So don’t let a leaky basement dampen your spirits – take action today!

Fixing a leaky basement protects your home from water damage and mold growth. Whether you choose to tackle the repairs yourself or hire a professional, take action today to protect your home’s structural integrity and your family’s health. For all your storage and moving needs, consider hiring SecureSpace. Visit our website to learn more and schedule your services. Don’t let a leaky basement dampen your spirits – take action now!

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