Why is There Water in My Crawl Space?

The first rainstorm of the season is when some of us discover standing water in the crawlspace or basement of our homes. While standing water doesn’t seem like it could cause a lot of damage, it can affect both our health and the soundness of the house. Standing water can lead to mold in the crawlspace and the floorboards. The excess moisture can also penetrate through to the floors above causing buckling, warped doors, and soggy sheet rock.

The first step in dealing with standing water is figuring how it got there in the first place. In most cases, the standing water in your crawl space came from outside surface water that drained towards your foundation instead of away from it. Here are a few places to start your search.

Downspouts. Downspouts collect rain water from the roof and direct it away from the foundation. If the down spout is clogged with leaves or has detached from the gutter, the rainfall coming off the roof will concentrate in that area and will eventually seep into the wall. Cleaning out the downspout or reattaching it to the gutter should prevent water from seeping into your basement the next time it rains.

Splash blocks. These are the plastic green or grey trays that collect the water from the downspout and carry the rainwater away from the foundation and into your yard. Occasionally a splash block will get kicked out of place; to fix this problem, line up the block with the downspout so water will drain away from the house.

No gutters or clogged gutters. When the gutters get clogged they tend to overflow at the corners, dropping water straight down the walls of your home and towards the foundation walls. To fix this problem, the rain gutters should be checked for clogs and cleaned. If you don’t have gutters in corners where rain water collects, then it’s time to get some installed.

Raised flower beds. My house has foundation flower beds which is why I use a soaker hose system instead of relying on the sprinkler. So that the water doesn’t run towards the foundation, these beds are all angled away from the foundation. If your water leak comes from the area of a flower bed, use a rake to bank up the soil near the foundation so the rain water runs out into the yard. Edging such as railroad ties or large pieces of wood should also be removed.

Runoff. When it rains, all that water should run away from your house and not towards it. Trees with raised roots, sloped lawns, tilted sidewalks or a driveway that empties towards your house instead of away can all cause water to seep into the soil and eventually into the basement or crawlspace. If this is the reason behind the standing water in your crawl space, it’s time to call in an expert who can diagnose the cause and offer up solution for preventing the water from entering your home.

More by this contributor:

DIY Fall tasks to follow the first rainfall of the season
A checklist of Fall home maintenance tasks and repairs.
Rooftop maintenance tasks for the homeowner.

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