How to find a foundation leak

How to find a foundation leak - Image 1

When water is entering your foundation it is important to correctly identify the source of the foundation leak to ensure the best waterproofing solution will be used to repair the leak. Here are some pro tips to help identify the source of your foundation leak, even in finished spaces.
Perform A Water Test
Finding the source of a foundation leak allowing water into your home can be difficult without moisture being present at the time of inspection. When there are no visible cracks or if the area is finished and you cannot see the raw foundation then a water test can be performed to help identify the point of entry in your foundation. This test can be performed in just a few minutes using only your garden hose. Simply spray water on the outside of your foundation in the general area that water is entering and wait for the moisture to appear on the inside. It can take several minutes to saturate the soil and for the water to find its way through the foundation, so this can take a bit of patience. Can you hear dripping? Is the carpet wet? Once you see water and have isolated the area of the water source then a foundation specialist can pin-point the cause of the leak and  identify how to correct the issue with the least amount of demolition to your finished space.
Check The Tack Strip
Checking your carpet tack strips is an easy test that can be done without damaging your finished space as your carpet can be put back into its original position. Pull back the carpet next to the wall and inspect the tack strip for rusting or discoloration. Any sign of moisture will leave the tack strip rusted or, with enough moisture, the tack strip can rot and darken in color altogether. The tack strip can show the point of water entry being directly above the rusted or discolored area and can also be a good indication of how much water is entering the foundation based on how widespread the tack strip damage is throughout your basement.
When the space is unfinished or the foundation wall is exposed a text-book sign of water is efflorescence. Efflorescence is a powdery white substance that is created when water evaporates and leaves behind minerals and salt. This can be seen around cracks in the foundation and when water is pooling on the floor.
Perimeter Leak
It is also possible for water to come up through the floor. This usually occurs where the floor meets the wall and tends to be a widespread issue throughout the perimeter of a particular wall or even throughout the entire foundation floor. This particular point of entry is difficult to duplicate with a water test as the amount of moisture needed to cause entry through the floor is significant. This point of entry is common for structures built on a high water table but can also be caused by poor drainage which can be easily remedied.
One thing to keep in mind is that water entering through a window may not be a foundation issue. Can you see water lines on your window from standing water in the window well? Are there streaks of water on top of the paint on the windowsill? Are the window tracks stained or covered in efflorescence? Water coming in through a window can indicate poor drainage or that your sprinklers may need to be adjusted. Directly spraying a window during a water test will not test the condition of your foundation but can indicate that your windows need attention.


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