It could be from too much run rain, a burst pipe, or a high water-table, but whatever the source, water sometimes finds its way up to your floor. Seeping water is dangerous in your home because of possible exposure to electrical components and high chances of causing mold, mildew, and severe water damage. How do you stop it in the first place?
To prevent water coming through the floor, start with diagnosing the problem – find the source of seepage before turning off the water supply to the house. If, for example, you establish that the water is coming from a rising water table, this is an excellent time to install a sump pump. Otherwise, fix any leaking pipes or slab cracks.
The problem of water coming through your floor is not always as easy to diagnose and fix. That is why you need a deeper dive into this subject. This way, you’ll learn crucial things like whether the floor type influences water seepage? Or the best practices to prevent water from coming through your floor.
Why Is Water Coming Through The Floor?
Various reasons explain water seepage into your house through the floor. Some are obvious, while others could appear technical to some homeowners. Let’s go through the most prominent ones:
Blocked Drainage System
The pipes in your drainage system slavishly take out dirty water for many years, yet it reaches a point where too much scum builds up and begins to constrict the passageway. Usually, the constriction arises from small bits of dirt collecting around a bend in the pipe and it grows in size over time.
The resulting blockage might go unnoticed for some time until the water finds the most straightforward way out through a crack in the pipe and the floor. Although this scenario is uncommon, it is very plausible.
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A plumbing leak is often the first culprit when you notice water seeping up the floor. Our homes have many pipes running water to and from critical fixtures in the house on which we rely for comfortable living.
However, temperature fluctuations and wear and tear do long-term damage to the pipes. With time, structural stress causes cracks that let out water.
But you may ask, how do you know the plumbing is leaking? Some leakages are easy to spot, especially when the pipes are visible. However, this could be challenging if the pipes are buried under the floor. Still, you can quickly tell if there is a leakage using the following simple steps:
Check The Water Meter
If you notice water seeping up through the floor and have a hunch it could be a burst pipe, you better confirm by checking the water meter. For better results, turn off all the plumbing fixtures in the house. In other words, ensure water is not running anywhere, even in the toilet.
Then check the water meter and observe any movements, however tiny. Also, you could note the numbers you see displayed. Come back after about three hours and reread the meter. If there is even a slight change, then you’d have caught the source of seepage.
Monitor The Water Bill
You often fall into a routine after living in a house for years, especially when talking bills. In time you can easily predict monthly water bills. If the bill becomes unusually high without a substantial increase in water consumption on your part, something must be amiss.
You’re fortunate if the discrepancy reveals itself as only a small amount of water on one of your basements’ floors. Estimates issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indicate the typical water usage for a family of four is about 12,000 gallons per month.
Of course, this average often notches up in summer or watering lawns, but the skew is not astronomical. The EPA further suggests that a simple drip-drip leak at the faucet could waste more than 10,000 gallons of water annually. For context, a plumbing leak (even the smallest) causes wastage almost ten times as much.
Excess Ground Water
Unless you live in a desert-like environment, you shouldn’t be surprised if one day you walk into your basement and suddenly find the water coming through the floor. The water could be part of the region’s water table that might have risen to unusual levels.
A United States Geological Survey (USGS) definition of a water table is the underground boundary between the surface of the soil and the area where groundwater saturates spaces between sediments and cracks in the rock.
This boundary experiences equilibrium between atmospheric pressure and water pressure. Furthermore, the USGS notes that the land surface and precipitation influence the height and shape of the water table.
More water seeps into the saturated zone during seasons with high precipitation, leading to a rising water table. Then, if the rising equilibrium surpasses your floor, the excess water will find its way up through every nook and cranny.
Slab leaks happen when your floor is made of slabs. When moisture and water pressure act on the slabs, some give way, and space opens for the liquid to flow up.Sometimes It Could Be Water from Elsewhere
A puddle on the floor can come from many other places. For example, a leaking ceiling can let in lots of water when it rains.
To avoid the scenario where you misdiagnose the puddle’s source, check the ceiling for wet spots or stains. You might start with the area directly above the puddle and then keep extending the search.
If you fail to find a leaking spot on the ceiling, vacuum up the puddle and wait to see if it will recollect. You should start looking for another source if the water reappears.
Also, the water could be excess run-off from outside, especially after a heavy downpour. Some spaces in the windows and doors could let in water in case of an inadequate sealing job.
If you have a form of underfloor heating installed, there is a chance that a leak in the pipes is wetting the floor. Because the system keeps the floor warm, the constant temperature fluctuation puts a lot of stress on the pipes. This makes them highly susceptible to leaking.
How To Stop the Water from Seeping Up the Floor
Once you ascertain that the puddle on the floor is indeed from nowhere else, you must hurry to find and stop the leak.
NOTE: Leaving the leaks unresolved for too long can cause more damage especially if you have vinyl floors. Here’s an article I wrote about potential what can happen if water gets under vinyl floors and what to do about it.
How you approach the issue should be on a case-by-case basis. For example, the following steps are helpful if you discover a leaking pipe under the floor.
Stopping Water from A Leaking Pipe
Doing so requires a few steps:
Step 1: Switch Off the Water Supply to The Home
Water can push through cracks in the pipe and spaces in the floor because of pressure from the source. It could be the force of a pump or atmospheric pressure in a pipe from the main tank outside into the home.
Shutting off the water source relieves the pressure and gives you time to repair the damage. Please do so if it is possible to cut water supply to a specific part of the house or pipe.
Step 2: Let Excess Water Drain Off
You’ll need to wait some time, an hour or more, for excess water to drain off. Then, with the puddle cleared, you can diagnose the problem better and assess the extent of the damage.
Step 3: Fix the Problem
If you can plug the problem without professional help, do it right away; otherwise, make sure a technician is on hand.
More often than not, you’ll need a professional for this part of the job, particularly if you have an underfloor heating system. Usually, the experts have the requisite training to handle challenging tasks like such.
Moreover, the work might require several technicians, especially if it involves digging up a concrete floor. Finally, the floor will need a relevant expert to repair it after the leak is fixed.
Stop Seepage from Excess Groundwater
We saw earlier that groundwater is a problem many homeowners face unless you live in a desert-like environment.
After diagnosing the water problem, you’ll know the precise reason for the seepage. Sometimes it could be cracks on the floor or even a broken seal. Foundation leaks are often severe and could put the entire house at risk of collapse.
Usually, homes built in waterlogged regions are predisposed to seepage, a factor that engineers consider from the onset. It means, then, that proper preventive measures are taken from the first brick.
DID YOU KNOW? One of the most effective solutions employed includes a drainage system near the foundation. Different places have specific names for this drainage system, although the most common phrase is a French drain.
A French drain, also called sub-surface drain or weeping tile, is necessary for a house built in areas that frequently fill up with water. The trench directs subsurface water away from your home and is often installed near the building’s edge.
But the French drain might not always work as intended, leading to surface water finding its way on your floor. How, then, do you stop this?
It is definitely worth noting that controlling subsurface problems should be left for professionals; the available solutions require advanced soil knowledge and other construction-related techniques.
Waterproofing The Floor
This is the easiest of all solutions because it involves sealing cracks in the concrete.
If the cracks are minor, you can seal them up quickly with an epoxy injection. Epoxy has superior sealing capabilities and works excellently even in large cracks. In addition, its high resistance capacity makes it impervious to water for very long.
During repair, ensure the crack is clean and wide enough to let in a substantial amount of epoxy. Loose particles in the gap might jeopardize the effectiveness of the handiwork once complete.
Next, you need to reinforce the floor to prevent the crack from widening further in the future. Waterproofing is ideal when you have only a few cracks on the floor and do not want to demolish the entire surface.
Create A Sump
A sump is a hollow or pit that collects underground water and directs it away from a building. A sump pump kicks in and drains it to external primary drainage systems when the water reaches a specific level.
As you might’ve guessed already, a sump collects unwanted water for disposal later. So, if dug in a waterlogged area, the sump pit helps to lower the water table.
How to Create Your Sump Pit at Home
To create your sump pit at home, you need digging equipment and a bucket.
1. First, dig a hole (the depth and width depend on need and personal preference) at the edge of the house. When estimating the measurements, ensure you leave enough space for a bucket or sump pump if you need to use it.
2. Once the pit reaches the desired measurements, spread gravel at the bottom. This helps to prevent mud from forming and messing up the hole when pumping water out.
3. Next, insert a bucket that leaves about 3-4 inches of open space between it and the pit’s wall. Also, make sure to punch some tiny holes all around the bucket (not more than a quarter an inch), including the bucket’s bottom.
4. To finish up, fill the space between the bucket and pit’s wall with gravel. Make sure that the gravel fills up to the existing ground surface. The sump is now ready for use.
Should you use a sump pump? It depends. As with any other tool, the pump makes work easier and more efficient. The submersible device is small and can fit in any sump.
The best thing about the pump is that it kicks in automatically once the sump begins to fill up. It uses the exact activation mechanism as an automatic cistern. A sump pump float switch turns on the pump when water in the sump reaches a specific level.
Moreover, the pump is powerful enough to drain water into storm drains far away from home.
‘Type A’ Waterproofing
This is the most sophisticated and effective means to stop water from coming through your floor. It is common in buildings that include basements. Little wonder that its other name is basement tanking.
Basement tanking entails applying a membrane to the outside or inside the structure to create a watertight seal. The method is more expensive and often done when building the house. However, it provides maximum protection, especially for homes in soaked locations.
Although the technique is popular with underground structures, it is also appropriate for floors in homes built in high-water table locations.
In most cases today, one can apply cementitious tanking systems (a layer of cement on walls) on prebuilt houses. First, however, one must ensure the walls are undamaged. One must also note that tanking is prone to cracking.
REMINDER: Applying this technique to a building close to a railway line could be counterproductive. The underground vibrations will degrade the tanking slowly and finally end up falling off.
Water coming through your floor is not a reason to panic. As with any problem, you begin by diagnosing and tracking the source. Then, with the source in mind, find a way to solve the problem permanently or at least for a reasonable period.
It is crucial to take care when finding out the source. Any wrong step could see you incur unnecessary expenses. If in doubt, call in professional assistance.