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Being an Ottawa homeowner can be exciting. However, on the other hand, anxiously awaiting in nail-biting anticipation of the spring thaw, which can determine whether or not your basement is destined to experience leaks, can be an exhausting, full-time job.

Thanks to regulations set out in the Building Code Act of Ontario, homes that are constructed, renovated or undergo change-of-use in Ontario are tethered to a minimum standard of construction.

However, while being assured your home meets the Building Code is your first line of defense in ensuring your home is protected against basement leaks, these regulations can only do so much until environmental conditions come into play.

This is why knowing your home’s foundation type and its common source of issues is essential for any homeowner.

Basic Anatomy of a Basement

A basement can be constructed using three main types of foundations — poured concrete walls, concrete masonry block walls, and stone walls.

Poured concrete is created by constructing molds which concrete is then poured into, resulting in a continuous surface with a smooth finish. This foundation is the easiest to waterproof and the least susceptible to leaks.

Next is concrete masonry block walls. This type of foundation is built using concrete blocks that are hollow in nature and stacked one on top of another, utilizing mortar joints to fill the voids between the blocks.

Lastly, stone walls, found within older homes, involves placing stones together with mortar in between. As stones do not fit perfectly together it results in a foundation that can be inconsistent in strength.

Common Sources of Basement Leaks

Basement leaks can be incredibly detrimental and costly, especially if the leak affects an area of your basement that is “finished”.  Wet drywall, flooring, and insulation can all lead to an expensive clean-up. Before addressing any damage expense on the inside of your house, you will want to make you address the source of the problem.

The most prominent type of basement leak is experienced at the joints between the basement wall and basement floor. However, understanding why your basement might be leaking means, as mentioned earlier, understanding the construction of your foundation and the materials used.

With poured concrete walls, the source of the leak usually occurs between the floor and the wall, forcing its way into the basement because of a high hydrostatic pressure outside of the wall. Any cracks that form in the wall act as an entryway that allows water to enter the basement.

When it comes to concrete block walls, while water can also seep in between the floor and wall joints if your home has this type of foundation you will most likely see cracks from weakened mortar from deterioration and pressure against the wall.  In addition, the hollow core of the blocks can also collect water, causing leaks.

Moving along to stone walls, this particular foundation type will experience leaks simply due to the nature of their construction. The stones do not fit perfectly together, creating inconsistent strength. In the past when these homes were constructed, masons may not have had the tools to properly ensure stone walls were completely watertight. This allows water to seep in through the cracks or gaps between stones.

Repairing Basement Leaks

While there are numerous strategies available to help a DIYer fix a basement leak, it is important to choose a solution that permanently fixes the problem – rather than a temporary, quick fix.

When it comes to properly waterproofing a foundation, the solution typically starts from the outside and digging (literally) to the root cause. This can include the following: excavating, cleaning, repairing cracks, installing a waterproof membrane and drainage membrane, addressing the weeping tile system, then backfilling the excavation site with a sufficient slope for water flow.

Read our full waterproofing service description on our website for more detailed information.

What NOT To Do: DIY Repairs

When a basement leak occurs or even reoccurs, at the most inopportune time, your first instinct might be to just turn to a DIY repair in hopes of saving money. However, when it comes to the well-being of your home and possessions, a high-quality repair should be of your utmost concern.

If improperly treated, leaks can result in expensive, ineffective, headache-inducing consequences. Everything from incorrectly identifying the problem, improper installation of waterproofing solutions, and deficient use of tools and equipment can result in a DIY job turned sour.

Knowing your home’s foundation type and its common source of issues is essential for any homeowner. It will allow you to understand why issues like basement leaks arise. Let professionals like Affordable Concrete Services be your solution to achieve the watertight basement you deserve.

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