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Finding the Cause of a Wet Basement

Answered by Jeffrey ~ February 8, 2010 ~ Comments

For some mysterious reason, our new house in Myrtle Beach always seems to have a wet basement after it rains. Do you have any advice about possible causes and what to look for? Could this be a significant structural problem? I'm trying not to worry.

Beth ~ Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Jeffrey Anderson

A wet basement could be a minor problem, or it could be a major problem-often it takes some time to identify where the water is getting in. You mention that you just purchased the home. If the house was built recently, there should be a structural warranty involved. A wet basement is definitely a structural issue, and the builder should identify and correct the problem. If the house is older, I would get the realtor and the previous owners involved. Chances are it didn't just start leaking when you purchased it.

I imagine that the Myrtle Beach area has a high water table, and the land is rather flat. That would mean most basements are fully in-ground, and need a sump system to remove the water from around the foundation. Hopefully, your house has a sump pump, and perhaps it isn't operating correctly. Most sump pumps work off of a float system. If you can locate where the pump is, take the cover off the top, and lift the float inside briefly. The pump should turn on. If the pump works, the next time it rains watch the discharge of the system to make sure water is coming out. The discharge should be on the exterior of the home, and water will not come out constantly, just when the pump comes on. If the pump is functioning, and you are not seeing any water being discharged, or very little, then chances are you have a clogged drain tile.

If you see water exiting the discharge, but still have a wet basement, it may indicate a foundation crack. Or, it could be something as simple as loose or missing caulking that needs to be replaced at a door threshold or around a window. Wet basements do not necessarily imply a significant structural problem, but it can be frustrating locating where the water is getting in. However, as I mentioned, with a newly purchased house, you should not be the person having to deal with that problem.

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