WET BASEMENT AND CRAWL SPACE
PROBLEMS, CAUSES, AND REMEDIES -TIPS FOR
HOMEOWNERS, AND HOME BUYERS
The primary purpose of this guideline is to provide basic information to the homeowner, home buyer, landscaper and home builder about the causes of wet basements and crawl spaces for making practical decisions in purchasing pre-owned or new homes, preventing or correcting problems, and for repairing affected homes. The contents of these guidelines are also intended to provide a common basis of communication among the homeowner or buyer, local codes official, realtor, builder/contractor, inspector/regulator, insurer, and mortgager.
TIPS FOR HOME BUYERS, HOMEOWNERS, AND HOME BUILDERS
"A teaspoon of prevention is worth a gallon of cure" certainly applies to new home builders-at least in avoiding water problems in basements or crawl spaces. Buyers of new or older homes should be cautious about drainage. The best time to sign a contract is on a rainy day!
New home buying/building tips
The following tips are suggested to avoid water problems when building or buying a newly-built home:
- Work with an engineer or architect, to help you locate the new house on the lot and at an elevation which would minimize potential surface or groundwater drainage problems and save drainage costs. Home builders should be careful during final grading and landscaping to ensure that surface water drains away from the foundation wall.
- If a flowing stream or dry ditch borders your lot, check with local planning agency officials or a hydrologic engineer for potential flooding, whether in a designated 100-year flood hazard zone, a special flood hazard area, or in an area where lesser but more frequent flooding could occur or has occurred.
- Work with a reputable home builder who can give you reference names or locations for houses that he has built. If the house you are looking at is already built, find out who constructed it and ask your realtor for references to homes built by the same builder. Visit these sites and check for patterns of any drainage problems.
- Assume that the local building inspector will not check new home construction for landscaping or site drainage. This matter is usually left up to the builder and buyer to resolve. However, if you dont feel competent to make your own inspection, hire an engineer or architect to help you check slopes, foundation wall water proofing/damp-proofing, underground drains, general surface and roof water drainage, and general quality of construction. If you suspect a potential problem, check the warranty and ask the local building inspector for advice.
- Check to make sure that the perimeter foundation drain, basement drain(s), or crawl space drain has an unobstructed outlet to a ditch or swale which leads away from the house.
- If you are considering the purchase of a newly built house, pay special attention around the outside and the basement or crawl space for
- backsloping lawns and landscaping toward foundation walls.
- backsloping driveways (toward garage), stoops, walks or patios which force surface water toward the foundation wall. If necessary, use a level to check the slope direction.
- a very flat lot with little opportunity for drainage away from the house and lot.
- standing water inside crawl space-check for seepage or ponding next to foundation walls.
- pattern of wet concrete blocks on inside basement walls below grade; check for whitish salt deposits on inside foundation walls as a result of leaching from moisture seepage and evaporation.
- potential or observed surface drainage from the street or from neighbors roof drainage toward your foundation wall or garage.
- downspouts which drain back to the foundation wall, where water has no way to escape away from the foundation wall.