The Best Solution for Water Coming Through Your Basement Floor
Updated: May 11
When you have a leak in your basement, you fix it, right? You fill it with something, or maybe cover it up with a fancy product. Maybe you even hire someone to fix the whole wall and do it right. But how do you fix water coming up through a basement floor?
Fixing water coming up from a floor in a basement requires the installation of a sump pump and sump pump basin. A basin that has perforated holes sits below the level of the concrete slab down to 30”. Groundwater pools in the basin and the pump removes it from the house.
If you don’t already have a sump system, or if you do but your basin is not perforated, don’t fear because we’ll explore everything about water coming up through a basement floor is just another problem you can fix.
Why is Rain Water Coming Up Through the Floor?
Water that literally seeps up from your concrete slab is disconcerting, at the least.
How can it do that? The problem is more common than you’d think, and it has everything to do with the amount of moisture in the earth around your house.
Remember, older concrete can be a real sieve and it is not uncommon for old concrete slabs to sweat or puddle.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t stop it - only that you shouldn’t be surprised to see some moisture on your floor.
There are several reasons water might come up through your floor - let’s look at some of the causes.
1. Shrinking and Swelling Earth
Do you live in an area that experiences extreme moisture variances? Then you might experience shifting foundation issues due to the dry/wet cycle.
As soil dries out, it shrinks. When it rains, the soil swells. This movement over the years will shift your foundation, cause cracks, and do all sorts of other naughty stuff to your house you won’t like.
2. Type of Earth
Different geographies feature different soils. Certain soils drain better than others. When talking about the type of “dirt” you have around your house, you are typically looking at one of four types: clay, silt, sand, or loam.
Clay is your biggest enemy biggest it has the finest particles, meaning it has poor drainage. It also has the greatest water-bearing capacity. That means it can hold water, and swell up against your foundation walls.
When clay swells, it holds water up against your foundation walls. Over time it will not only move your foundation walls but also perpetuate leaks because the water will be forced through your block or poured concrete walls - it literally has no place else to go.
If you have sand or silt, then the particles are larger and your soil will drain better. That doesn’t mean you won’t have water problems, but these two types do not carry water like clay.
Loam is a mixture of all three types of soil and is often found in agricultural areas because it is extremely fertile soil.
Loam does retain moisture and has clay as part of the mixture, so loamy soil may cause your foundation issues during periods of saturation.
How to Prevent Water Coming Up from the Floor in a Basement
When you have a very dense soil type, such as clay or very fine silt, the earth around your house can swell so much that it literally pushes the water up through your floors.
To start, you’ve got to have a system of weeping tile - also called a French drain or simply an exterior drainage system - in place. If you do, great. If not, you need one. Either an interior waterproofing system or exterior waterproofing system, but you need a drainpipe going around your house to catch all the water trying to invade your home.
If you already have one of these systems, then you will also have a sump pump, and that’s where we want to focus on in this article.
Get a New Sump Pump Basin
Your sump pump is in a utility room in your basement. It sits in a deep pit that probably often has water in it. The pump takes this water, which is collected from the perimeter of your house and sends it out through a pipe away from your house.
The sump pump basin is the pit where the sump pump sits. If you have a house that has any sort of age on it - say, 5 or more years, then your sump pit probably doesn’t have perforations.
A basin with perforations might seem kind of like a paradox - the basin serves to remove water, so why have holes where it could escape into the ground around the basin?
The perforations allow the groundwater from under the concrete slab to escape into the basin.
Even in clay soils, once water under the slab has an egress - even if your slab is in the corner of your basement - water will find its way to it.
A sump pit without perforations leads to puddling or damp spots on your basement concrete floor.
You are basically just holding the water below your floor captive and not giving it a path to escape.
Can I Replace an Existing Sump Pump Basin?
Yes. This is an uncomplicated job that requires some grunt work. If your current basin is sunk into the concrete slab of your basement, then you’ll need a jackhammer to break up the concrete around the pit and dig it out.
Having dug many sump pits, we can tell you that it really depends on what type of soil you have beneath your home as to how easy or hard the digging will be.
Sometimes the basin will pop right out - other times you’ll have to dig and pry over and over. It just depends.
Once the old basin is removed, you can simply install a new, perforated basin and put your old sump pump back inside.
Connecting the old drainpipes to the new pit may also be tricky. To make an easy connection, get the appropriate connecting adapters from a hardware store, which will run you less than $5.
Is Water Still Seeping Up from the Floor?
If you’ve installed a new, perforated sump basin and you’ve noticed your problem hasn’t gone away, then you need to check your interior or exterior drainage systems.
Most older homes will not have a way to clean out their drainage tiles. Some modern homes have another pipe that comes up out of the ground on the exterior of their homes to act as a “cleanout” for their French drains. You put your hose or an industrial snake down into it to clean out any clogs.
If you have an older home, your only other option for checking your drainage system is to access your sump pit. This will allow you to either put a hose or snake into your drain pipes and check for clogs.
In no way are we advocating that this will work, but it’s a method we’ve tried with varying success.
Thanks for taking the time to check out this article. We understand that water coming up through your basement floor can be extremely anxiety-inducing to homeowners. The suggested fix is cheap and can be done in a weekend.
Remember to wear steel toed boots when using the ol' jackhammer.
If you have any questions or suggestions about issues that may arise during this type of problem and installation, then shoot us an message and we'll get er' figured out.