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Basement Water Problem – 5 Main Causes

Basement water problems are notorious for in the water damage industry, especially in older buildings and they are an area of the property we look at when carrying out leak detection in the York & Yorkshire Coast area, similarly with damp and mould problems, including mould on walls, which are common in basements. There are a lot of older properties in York and the surrounding area and we have helped a lot of people in the local area.

Basement Water Problems, including damp. in York
Basement Water Problems

What Causes Basement Water?

There are a lot of possible causes for basement water or damp problems and in this article we will focus on 5 of the main / common reasons we come across. Spoiler – water leaks are one of the 5 possible causes on this list.

As is often the case with lists like this, sometimes problems with basement water can be from a combination of factors. The cause of the problem can be made worse by another issue with a property. As we said earlier, it is not unusual for basements to have problems (especially older ones) and, often, people live with it or manage it themselves, making sure that the issues does not get too bad. We will look at solutions later too.

We wrote an article recently on problems with damp on walls in properties, which has some similarities to this. So if you have that problem but not basement water damage, check out that article for useful information too.

Basement Water - Problems and Cause. York, Yorkshire.
Basement Water – Problems and Causes

It is important to say that every property and every problem is unique and we treat it as so, we customise our service to your unique property based on its location, position, age, construction and design. We are a local business who knows the area well, including the type of housing stock in the Yorkshire area.

Basement Water – 7 Signs of a Problem

Given that basement water problems covers a lot of things, there are clearly many potential things to be on the lookout for but, in particular lookout for these things:

  1. Standing Water – on the floor, clearly sometimes this will be obvious
  2. Damp Patches on Walls and Floors – often these will be visible
  3. Unusual Smells – smells of damp, stagnant water or even sewage
  4. Cracking or ‘Bubbling’ Paint – caused by moisture changes
  5. The Sound of Water – in particular those out of the ordinary
  6. High Levels of Condensation – on walls and basement ceilings
  7. Other Structural Changes – softening or movement of materials

Again, if you see more than one of these then, generally, the higher the chance of you having a problem. You will likely know your property well and understand what is ‘normal’ for your basement. So if you spot anything out of the ordinary that could indicate a basement water ingress issue, get in touch with us for help.

ATP testing can be used to help with basement water issues, especially if sewage clean up is involved.

So let’s now take a look at some of the things that could be causing basement water problems.

Basement Water Leak. York, Yorkshire Water.
Basement Water Leak

Basement Water Leak (1)

We hinted at this earlier but as you might expect as trace and access experts, we come across a lot of basement water leaks locally. Such leaks include things we have written about elsewhere:

There are also things such as – Sewer Pipe Leaks, Bathroom Water Leaks (including showers, sinks and toilets), Water Tank Leaks (hot or cold tanks) and even Swimming Pool Leaks (less common). Water leak detectors help in this process greatly. On this, we have a useful article about unblocking toilets.

The thing to remember about water leaks is that (a) they are not always obvious / easy to find (this can especially be the case in basements) but also (b) the leak may not actually be in the basement – it can be a water leak from above that has made its way down the property.

In some situations, Fluorescein Leak Detection Dye can be useful.

Basement Water Leak - Cause, Yorkshire.
Basement Water Leak – Cause

Gravity usually causes water to go to the lowest point, following the lowest path of resistance usually and sometimes through other materials causing damage along the way. Establishing this is important, using specialist leak detection equipment and our knowledge and experience.

If you think you have a water leak that is affecting your basement, contact us today. We also provide commercial leak detection to local businesses in the area. Basements are often found in commercial properties and can cause problems with things stored down there, including stock or even food materials (in a restaurant for example). A lot of our specialist cleaning work is for businesses affected by water leaks (or other things on this list).

Basement Water Flooding
Basement Water Flooding

Basement Flooding (2)

Again, as we have said with water leaks, ‘flooding’ is a generic term that can actually be various things, for example you could have basement water flooding caused by heavy rain, drains backing up, a mains water leak, river flooding, ground water ingress or something else.

That said, generally, they all involve standing water in your basement for some time, which as you might expect can cause a lot of damage to buildings and contents. In fact, one of the priorities with flooded properties is pumping out our extracting basement water before carrying out drying and water leak repair work.

On that, an enhancement to this service which can be very beneficial is remote environmental monitoring.

Basement Water Extraction - Pumping Out. York
Basement Water Extraction – Pumping Out

Thankfully, as you would expect for a water leak detection company based in York (and who works around Yorkshire), we are very familiar with flooding from the River Ouse, River Foss and other Yorkshire Rivers. Unfortunately, although rivers add a lot of beauty to the Yorkshire area, they do bring flooding to the area fairly regularly. Most recently this includes the Fishlake Floods of 2019, Snaith area flooding in 2020 and the York floods of Boxing Day 2015 (and other years)

We are one branch within Rainbow Restoration who are the UK’s largest flood damage companies and we work with many of the UK’s biggest insurance companies to help their customers recover after flooding at their property. They trust us to deliver a first class service, and so can you. Flooding can be a very difficult thing for people to deal with but we can help you through that, using our skills and experience.

Basement Water – Top Tip
Pay special attention to basements in homes or business, especially in old properties. Be vigilant for basement water, damp, condensation. If you spot anything unusual, do not ignore it, get it checked out before further damage occurs to your property”

Leak Detection Team

Basement Damp & Condensation (3)

Again the word ‘damp’ is often used to cover a lot of related things, damp is even often confused with other things. What looks like a damp problem could be caused by condensation issues (with damp being a secondary effect) in a property. Even when damp occurs in a basement, it could be rising damp or penetrating damp problems, possibly caused by structural issues. Needless to say, understanding this is important.

A bit like the condensation example, damp can be caused by other things on this list, or something completely different. And even when damp occurs, it may not necessarily be something extraordinary, it may be that the elevated moisture levels associated with damp can be ‘normal’ for that property, especially older ones.

Damp on Walls - Penetrating Damp. York, Yorkshire.
Damp on Walls – Penetrating Damp

That said, on many occasions damp problems can be solved in basements. Critically though, treating and remedying the cause (for example a water leak) is essential before remedying the damp itself. Otherwise the damp will return in your basement most likely. Moisture meters are important for this.

If you have a problem with water, damp or condensation in your property basement, get in touch with us and we will help and advise you.

Basement Drainage Problems (4)

Again, drainage problems associated with basements covers a lot of things. It could be a blocked drain backing up, a broken drain exterior to the property (which is leaking it), inside the property or even something like drains getting overwhelmed / overloaded by excessive sudden rain, or flooding outside. Clearly a lot of underground drainage can be at a similar level to basements.

Even the water itself from drains can be general waste water (from baths, sinks, washing machine leaking etc), rain water or, in the worse case sewer water (or a combination of these). Needless to say, sewer water or raw sewage in a basement is very unpleasant, smelly and unhealthy. As such, it is treated as a biohazard and dealt with accordingly.

Basement drainage issues, if severe, can be very disruptive and cause a lot of damage, but we have specialist tools and equipment to deal with them. Plus we have professional antimicrobial sanitisers to deal with bacteria and microbes found in and around faeces and urine. We also have specialist cleaning equipment and solutions.

Basement Water - Structural Issues, York.
Basement Water – Structural Issues

Basement Structural Issues (5)

In some ways, this can be a ‘chicken & egg’ situation as some of the other things on this list could in some cases may cause structural problems in bad cases or even make something else worse. For example, if you have a basement water issue caused by a broken drain exterior to the property, if there are issues with the basement already, the damage could be worth than if there were not such structural issues.

As we have said previously, this will vary according to the age, structure, design and condition of a property. Plus, the damp proofing measures on older buildings is likely to be very different to a more modern one.

Sometimes it can only take a small issue (a small hole or crack for example) or general degradation in a basement structure to let water enter in, especially if moisture is present in the soil / land around. Again, this leads back to the point we made in the previous section that, for example, a broken drain, leak or flooding can add to those levels of moisture in the ground.

Basement Water - Drying and extraction, Yorkshire.
Basement Water – Drying

Basement Water – Solutions

Clearly the solution to remedying basement water, damp plaster, mould or condensation etc will depend on what from the above (and it could be more than one thing, or something else) it is that is causing the issue.

That said, at different stages of the remediation work, the following could be utilised:

  • Extraction of water from the basement using a pump – we have a variety of professional pumps and water extractors to suit different situations, including large scale extraction of water.
  • Property Drying – industrial heaters, industrial air movers, pressure drying systems and other equipment designed to dry basements in properties after water damage, a leak or flood.
  • Sanitisation – various methods and solutions to help make safe a basement, especially after waste water, sewage leaks or flooding. Including antimicrobial solutions which are fogged or sprayed.
  • Waste Removal – from damaged buildings and contents, specifically items that are ‘Beyond Economic Repair’ (BER) from the amount of damage they have received.
  • Other Supporting Work – if and when required, for example air scrubbing, asbestos testing and removal. For more information see our guide – where is asbestos found

On the topic of mould in houses, see our article about Christmas mould information.

Rainbow International - York, Yorkshire
Rainbow Restoration – York, Yorkshire

We are experts in dealing with many types of water damage for people in the York and Yorkshire Coast area, so if you have damp in York or the Yorkshire Coast area, please contact our friendly team to arrange for help and guidance. We also deal with water leaks in Yorkshire homes and businesses. Here are the local areas we cover and services we offer locally.

At Rainbow Restoration – York & Yorkshire Coast we are experts in Leak Detection and Water Damage Restoration, so if you need help finding a water leak or getting your property back to normal after a leak or flood, get in touch with our friendly local team who will be happy to help you with this.

Leak Detection Logo
Leak Detection Logo

How do I stop damp in my basement?

Leak Detection Logo - Small

In order to understand how to stop damp in your basement, you need to first understand what the cause of it is, which is likely to be one of the things on this list above. Once you understand that, that will determine the best cause of action to fix it. For example, if it is a water leak, stopping the leak will possibly remedy it. However, if you have structural issues in your basement, that is clearly a more complex challenge.

Will a dehumidifier help a damp basement?

Leak Detection Logo - Small

It is possible that a dehumidifier will help a damp basement. However, unless you get to the bottom of the cause of the damp it is a bit like letting the plug out of a bath when the tap is still running when you need to fix the problem causing the damp (like the tap in our example). Also, dehumidifiers can be expensive to buy (especially larger ones) and they cost money to run. So it’s best to understand the issue before deciding if its the best option.

Is it normal to have water in the basement?

It is not considered normal to have water in basements in the majority of situations. That said, it would not be considered especially unusual eithers. Basements are usually the lowest point in the house and so, often, the most likely place for water to collect. Plus, basements can have issues with damp or condensation (which could have a variety of causes) and finally, there can be structural issues, especially in older properties.