FOUNDATION 101: It is
always recommended to repair your foundation from
the exterior. Ask us for more details on this topic!
Why Do Basements Leak?
Why is a Wet Basement a
Signs of a Problem
Why Should I Fix it?
WHY DO BASEMENTS
- The building is built in an area with high water content
- As the season changes, spring run-off brings large amounts of
water at once
- The extreme temperature variations cause the concrete to
contract and expand while creating cracks
- Concrete inevitably cracks at some point and your basement
walls and floor will eventually do so as well
- Holes may have been drilled into your basement walls and
foundation for plumbing and electrical connections or support
- Water also enters through the joints between your basement
walls and floor due to a failed or clogged weeping tile and
- Walls may not be visibly leaking but will still allow water
vapour and cold outside air to pass through
- The home is located in an area with poor soil drainage
- Water can enter through the window or door wells
- The eaves troughs and down spouts may be clogged and are
draining water too close to the foundation wall
- Sump Pump failure
- Sewer system back-up
- The drainage setup might be functional but wrongly set up
- Weak Bearing Soil
- Poor Soil Compaction
- Maturing Vegetation - Trees should be planted no closer than
their ultimate height. Their root systems will encroach on the
foundation and could accelerate the deterioration
- Hydrostatic pressure
There are two types of pressures that are exerted by water on
your foundation: hydrostatic pressure and lateral pressure.
Hydrostatic Pressure is caused by groundwater rising upward and
exerting force onto the bottom of your foundation and often
creating cracks in the
basement floor. Lateral Pressure causes water to penetrate the
Homes in Ottawa are particularly susceptible to basement leakage
because many are older foundations and we are in a climate where
temperatures drop below freezing. Our rainy seasons cause a large
amount of water build-up around your foundation walls and this
water eventually expands when it freezes and can do substantive
damage to your foundation. Conversely, the summer's warm air will
penetrate the basement and create condensation on the cold walls
and floor. The earth around the foundation may dry out so much that
it does not put consistent and year-round pressure on the walls
causing them to shift. Ottawa is a beautiful city with many areas
sitting on soil is like "kryptonite" to foundations and most homes
that are affected are cluttered in those areas. There are also
every-day tasks that your family does like laundry that will
increase the amount of humidity in your basement.
In many cases there is just a minor leak with very little water
and many homeowners will not bother repairing it. The truth is
that a minor leak can become a large problem
and will eventually lead to decreased property value, bad odours,
mould and mildew, and many other health hazards. Leaky
basements will not fix themselves and nor will the problem
just remain minor to a point where you can deal with it daily. The
problem will continue to get worse at an increasing rate
and, the sooner the problem is fixed, the less it will
cost to repair.
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WHY IS A WET BASEMENT A PROBLEM?
You are not the only homeowner experiencing these problems as
they are very common in the Ottawa area:
Loss in Property Value - potential home buyers
do not want to pay for a foundation problem. It is very hard to
sell a home that has a leaky basement or structural deficiencies.
The home inspector is trained to spot foundation issues before
anything and it will not go unnoticed.
Health Hazard to you and your family - Times
have changed and there is no more sharing peanut butter sandwiches
and glasses of water with your friends and everyone around you is
chronically sick and developing allergies at an alarming rate.
Don't let your family join this scary pattern. The first step is
protecting your basement.
Mould and Mildew - Mould grows in places where
there is moisture and organic material for it to live on. The
organism grows exponentially over time so it will quickly become a
bigger problem. A wet basement is the perfect place for mould to
grow. Any organic material, like wood, dead skin flakes or hair, is
something that mould can feed off of and these can all be found in
your basement. To better understand how mould can affect your
health, read what Health Canada has to say:
For tips on preventing mould build-up, read our blog post:
Ottawa Foundation Contractors has the capacity to test for mould
and remove it from the environment before we do work on your
Bad Odours - A basement should smell just as
fresh as the rest of your home. The musty smell in many basements
is caused by bacteria that thrive in damp conditions and is an
indicator that your basement has a moisture problem.
Damage to Building Materials and Structure-
Ongoing water leaks can make cracks and holes larger and require
masonry repair. Also, moisture can cause your wood studs and joists
to rot and your problem has now been drastically increased. Ongoing
wet basement issues can result in structural damage to your home
and that small crack in your wall could be the first sign of a
serious foundation problem.
Less Usable Space in your home - With a
moisture problem, you are unable to finish your basement or even
safely store your belongings.
Furniture and Equipment Damage - Basement
moisture can damage carpets and furniture and cause metal equipment
like your furnace to rust. Damage can include rotted wood, soaked
insulation, deteriorated carpets and ruined appliances
Electrical Wiring Concerns - Moisture and water
inside your walls and insulation are perfect conductors of
electrical currents. Moist electrical outlets and plugs will cause
High Humidity - Your HVAC system will use more
energy if the space is humid, which will in turn increase your
bill. Doors will jam because the material is swelling and there
will be more condensation in your home and on your windows.
Peeling Paint - Excess humidity will cause
paint to peel on walls
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OF A PROBLEM
- Your foundation walls have cracks whether vertical, diagonal, or
- Water is entering your basement regardless from where or how
- There are damp areas in your basement whether small or big
- Your wall has literally shifted
- Stained drywall, warped paneling, peeled or bubbled paint,
- You smell and/or see mould or mildew
- You can see concrete stains or white deposit
If you are experiencing any of these problems, it is highly
recommended that you rectify the situation sooner rather than
later. Do it for your property value and, most importantly, your
family's health and safety.
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SHOULD I FIX IT?
Canadians spend 90% of their time indoors so the quality of indoor
air is very important
will do anything to live in optimal health and this is a great
start! If you are healthy and want to keep it that way or if you
are constantly sick, developing allergies, irritated, or developing
any form of health discomfort that you did not have before, there
is a very good chance that your basement or crawlspace has
something to do with it. Fixing it will go a long way towards
achieving your health goals!
- You can
finish your basement and transform it into a bright, warm, liveable
space for your family. Your living space will be increased by
- If your
basement is already finished, you can now rest assured that your
investment will be protected and will never leak again
- If you
want to keep your basement unfinished, you can now use it as a big
storage area and save yourself a lot of room upstairs
properly waterproofed basement will
tremendously increase your home's market value. If it is or will be
finished then the value just went up even more!
- If you
are planning on finishing your basement, it is important to note
that foundation problems are much easier and less costly to fix
before the basement space has been renovated. Homeowners may be
wise to waterproof their walls even if
there are no visible issues yet
- If you
are planning on selling your home, the potential buyer's home
inspector is trained to spot foundation problems before anything
else. You will then be forced into a bargaining match that you did
not plan for and will either lose the sale, have to fix it in a
rush or end up being forced to sell it for a significantly lower
price. Historical data shows that people are unwilling to buy a
home with any form of basement leak problems. Resale value will
likely fall by 25% if these issues are not properly rectified.
- On the
other hand, if you properly waterproof your home then, you will be
able to sell at a much higher premium because you will most likely
have one of the only properly waterproofed homes in your
- If you
sell your home and it leaks shortly after, the sad reality is that
you are most likely going to be facing a lawsuit! Even if you win,
the time and headache involved will take away any joy you had from
the sale and leave you with a bitter feeling. Avoid this at any
- You will
no longer have to deal with the annoyance of mopping your floors
after a rainfall.
- Even if
your basement only gets wet once a year, the problem will only get
worse and your basement wall will not fix itself! The problem(s)
will not continue to be something that you can simply deal with and
it will only worsen at a quicker rate and can end up costing you
much more than you could have imagined.
- A crack(s) and a small
amount of water now will eventually turn into a larger crack(s)
with more water and structural issues. Your home is no exception.
Are you scared yet? Good! The sooner you get scared, the sooner
you will act and the sooner you will provide your home and everyone
in it the health and safety that they deserve.
There are two types of homes in Ottawa: ones that have
leaked and ones that will leak. Which category does your
home fall under? If it has leaked, did you rectify the situation or
did you just brush it off as a minor issue? If it has not leaked,
what have you done to ensure that it never does?
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