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Wet Basements in Spring

Many homeowners find that if they ever have a wet basement, it is either only after rain/runoff in winter or only after significant rains.


After significant rain, a wet basement can be understood. Roof runoff or landscaping create more water at the foundation than can be managed by the ground, causing water to deep into the basement through cracks, concrete expansion joints, and the sump pit or bulkhead. Gutters and crack sealant often will improve, if not fix this.


In colder climates, wet basements only during winter can be a whole other issue. When the ground is frozen and it rains, water has no place to go. Frozen ground can’t absorb water. The water will accumulate until it finds a slope, a low spot towards a stream, or most commonly, the thawed ground along the exterior of the home.


Thawed ground? In winter? Yup. Concrete is a terrible insulator, allowing heat to pass from the basement to the outside. In this case, even on the coldest days, an inch or two along the exterior of the concrete is completely thawed and allows water to be absorbed, or at least collected. Only so much water can accumulate in such a small space. Any extra finds it’s way into your basement through cracks.


What can be done? Gutters? Nope. They are likely frozen and won‘t help water that is already on the ground. Drains? Not in winter. They are already frozen solid and won’t collect any water. The best defense is typically a land sloped away from your home. This obviously needs to occur in summer months.


Planning ahead is key. Eliminating the problem with summer landscaping before is occurs may be the only way to keep your basement dry each winter. A rainstorm during our coldest months may only happen every five years, or it could happen every February. Just because you haven’t seen this problem doesn’t mean it won’t happen. We see it often.www.squareonemaine.com


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