How To Tell Where Water Is Coming Into Basement

This guide reveals how to tell where water is coming into your basement.

Basements can serve different purposes for homeowners. For some, it’s a place to store old and new property, while others use it as a workspace.

It is without a doubt an important space to have in your home, which is why it should remain in good condition at all times.

Nonetheless, it is very common to experience moisture in the basement, and this is a result of leaks. To fix the moisture problem, you have to first determine where the leak is coming from.

If you’re having trouble detecting the source, then you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll be telling you how to tell where water is coming into the basement.

Stay with us.

What Causes Leaky Basements?

To have a proper understanding of the source of moisture, you need to first know what causes the leaks in the first place.

The biggest problem with basements is definitely water, so the cause of this is either a source of water or a compromised structure that allows the water to trickle in.

The following are the major sources from where water can make way into your building and lead to leaks in your basement.

Rain and stagnant water around your home’s foundation: When there’s a heavy downpour, a foundation that hasn’t been waterproofed will be at great risk. This is a bigger problem for old homes that have weaker foundations.

But this isn’t just an issue for old homes. New homes that don’t have proper drainage will also be affected by heavy rains. With a good drainage system, water can be redirected away from your home’s foundation.

A good slope should do the trick. This will ensure that water doesn’t lodge around the foundation and cause leaks in your basement.

You should ensure your drainage system is always clean and free of clogs so the water can flow freely. The drainage system should also be able to channel the water far away from your building.

Cracks in your structure: Another common cause of a leaky basement is something as minor as a crack in your walls, windows, or stairwell doors. As simple as a crack may seem, it provides all the space water needs to get through and into your basement.

The next time it rains, use the opportunity to inspect your stairways and windows for any leaks. If you find any, then repair the faults to stop the leaks.

Faulty plumbing: Cracks, blockages, and rust are among the things that can cause your pipes to leak. This is why you should inspect them regularly to make sure they are in good condition.

You should also get them ready for the cold winter months by insulating them against getting frozen. If the pipes freeze, then there would be blockages, which will, in turn, lead to bursts, leakages, and a flooded basement.

Inadequate sump pump: A sump pump is one of the most important devices you should have in your basement if you want to keep large volumes of water out.

If the sump isn’t well-tended (cleaned and maintained), then it wouldn’t function properly. This means its ability to channel water away from your basement would be hindered, and the leaks will continue.

Be sure to get yourself a good sump pump, and follow all the manufacturer’s instructions regarding cleaning.

Condensation: Most people assume they assume the source of the leaking eater always comes from outside, but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes it’s the level of humidity in your basement that’s responsible for the moisture.

Poor ventilation, proximity to the ocean, and warm summer temperatures are among the common causes of humidity.

It is easy to spot condensation, just take a look at your pipes, walls, and ceilings. If they look “sweaty”, then you can be sure they are condensed.

A simple ventilation system can solve the condensation problem. A humidifier is perfect in this kind of situation.

Signs Of Leaks In Your Basement And Their Possible Sources

Now that you know what causes the leaks in your basement, you also need to keep an eye out for the signs.

Doing this will help you determine where the water is coming from. The source is usually close to where the signs of dampness appear.

The major advantage of spotting the leaks in good time is the simple fact that it can save your basement from serious water damage.

When searching for signs of leakages in your basement, you will need to determine if the water is coming from an external or internal source. External sources include rain and standing groundwater. As for internal sources, these include bad plumbing and condensation.

Here are the major signs of leakages in your basement.

Dampness on walls: If you notice that your walls are damp, then that’s a clear sign of leakage.

So, how can you tell if the wall is damp? Brown patches of stains around the wall are one of the surest signs. You can also place your palm on the wall to get a feel.

The brown stains or feeling of wetness only mean that the walls have been absorbing water for a while.

Mold and mildew: This is definitely a clear sign that you have leakages in your basement. If there is high humidity (or excessive moisture) in an area, then you can be sure to find them there.

Mold and mildew can spread very fast, and they aren’t particularly great for people with certain health conditions such as asthma and allergies.

Efflorescence: This is the chalk-like substance you can find around your basement walls. They form as a result of high humidity and leaks.

Rust: This one should be a no-brainer. Where there is rust in your basement, then there are definitely leaks.

If you find rust stains on your basement floors or carpets, then it’s due to corrosion of metal items packed in there. These may be metal legs of your basement furniture and nails in boxes or on baseboards.

Water insects: There are a good number of insects that are attracted to damp areas. If you see them gathering around certain areas of your basement, then that’s a clear sign of leakage in that area.

Among such insects, one of the most common you will find in a moist basement is the cockroach.

Stained or warped wood: When the wooden structure in your basement starts turning dark in color, then you’re looking at the clear evidence of water damage.

Cracked floors: Water can leave your basement floors cracked and damp, so if you notice any of these around the basement, then that’s a pointer to a leakage.

Cracks can be a result of the pressure it gets from water trying to push its way through.

How To Tell Where The Water Is Coming From Into Your Basement

So we’ve identified the causes and signs of leaks in your basement, now it’s time to discuss how to know exactly where the water is coming from.

A crack (or several cracks) in the foundation is a common sign of leakage, so you might want to begin looking for the source from there. You can also start looking from where the dampness, mold, rust, water bugs, or efflorescence piles up, then trace it to an origin.

Take a close look at these visible signs inside and outside the basement, then begin your trace from there.

In a case where the top of the foundation is buried, you will be required to dig the topsoil away to carry out a thorough inspection.

Keep in mind though, finding just one crack doesn’t mean the search is over. If there’s one crack, then chances are there are other cracks in other parts of the basement, so you have to be clinical in your search.

A homeowner may not be the most experienced person when it comes to digging up the basement foundation in search of water sources. It’s a lot of hard work which can be properly handled by a pro.

An experienced contractor will be able to predict other possible sources of water and will have the tools needed to carry out the inspection. They can carry out a simple hose test to find out the exact source of the water.

If the source of water is a crack, then there’d be no need to rip down the drywall to repair. There are effective repair solutions you can employ that are permanent.

A simple sodium bentonite clay plaster can be used to seal up the cracks. The application doesn’t take time either.


To find the exact source of water in your basement, you have to first understand what causes the leaks, and be able to identify the signs the dampness leaves behind.

Using these signs, you can have a fair idea of the water’s origins. Some digging may be required before you can find the source and conduct a repair, so hiring a professional contractor wouldn’t be a bad idea.

We hope this article has been informative.

Good luck!

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