When Water is Coming into Your Basement, Who Should You Call?

By:    |   Published January 25, 2017
: Image of a person reflected in the puddle he’s standing in. Text reads: Diagnosing a Mystery Puddle – Plumber or Foundation Repair Expert?

Some surprises are great – like finding $20 in your coat pocket. Others – like finding water in your basement – not so much. If you’ve discovered water in your basement and you’re not sure where it came from, who should you call for help – a plumber or a foundation repair expert? The answer to that mystery can probably be deduced from a few simple questions.

Where is the Water Located?

Sometimes it’s an easy diagnosis. Say the water is in the middle of the floor and there’s a broken pipe overhead. Plumber it is!

On the other hand, if there’s a puddle near edge of the floor (where it meets the wall) – and there are no obvious pipes, drains, appliances like a washing machine or water heater, or sump pumps nearby – it’s most likely a foundation issue.

Sometimes determining the origin of the water is a bit trickier. A few more questions should bring you closer to the answer.

How Much Water is There and How Long Did It Take to Get There?

Many plumbing problems are often – how shall we say – dramatic. They happen quickly and result in a lot of water pooling in a short time. Burst pipes, clogged fixtures, and backed-up drains are perfect examples. If there’s a lot of water, and it appeared within a few hours or overnight, it’s most likely a plumbing issue. One notable exception: a small leak (usually at a joint) traveling down the outside of a pipe can leave a puddle almost anywhere. Always look up to see if there are any water pipes above the puddles. If there are and they’re moist, mystery solved.

Water from a foundation leak usually seeps in along the edges of the floor. It can also seep in through cracks in the floor or the wall. But the key word here is “seep:” A little water comes in, and it usually does so over a longer period of time (think days or weeks).

What Is the Quality of the Water?

By this we mean what does it look and smell like? Is it clear and odorless, or murky and smelly? Water that enters a basement due to a foundation leak is almost always clean and clear because it’s ground water that has filtered through soil before it seeped into the basement. (Note that water stemming from a plumbing problem may also be clean, if it came from a broken interior pipe or leaking joint.) But if the water is dirty or has a foul odor, it probably came from a sewer back-up or clogged drain or fixture.

What Was Happening When the Leak Occurred?

Often, you can find clues to the problem in the circumstances surrounding when it happened. For instance:

  • Did the leak show up right after a heavy rain, maybe while the ground was still frozen?
  • Has your basement been humid for a while or does it have a musty, moldy smell? Is there water condensation on any windows or window frames?
  • Do your basement walls feel “clammy?”
  • Are there puddles near your foundation after it rains? You could have improper drainage caused from improper grading or eavestrough/downspout issues.
  • Is water seeping in around the corners of your windows? That might indicate you have clogged window well drains.

Many of these clues indicate that you may have a foundation problem, or one that can be fixed by a foundation repair expert.

4 Basement Waterproofing Options Info Graphic

If you’re still unsure about whether your basement mystery puddle was the product of a plumbing problem or a foundation issue, contact EverDry Toledo for a FREE 20-point basement inspection! We’ll help you pinpoint the source of the moisture problem. If it’s foundation-related, our waterproofing solutions can make your basement dry, healthy, and comfortable.

Contact us online to schedule an appointment or give us a call at (419) 469-5833 and schedule your inspection today!

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