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Help! Water is Leaking into My Basement After Heavy Rain

If you’ve noticed water leaking into your basement after heavy rain, you need to act quickly. Whether it’s a small puddle or inches of standing water, water in your basement can be a significant problem for your home and everyone in it. 

Over time, standing water in the basement creates a “stack effect,” increasing the moisture and humidity in the rest of your home, destroying drywall and flooring, leading to mold and mildew growth, and compromising your home’s foundation.

Fortunately, our team is here to help.

This blog will discuss why water leaks into your basement after heavy rain and how to address it. 

Let’s dive in. 

Why is Water Leaking into My Basement After Heavy Rain?

clogged gutters leak

Why does your basement become a swimming pool after every big rainstorm? 

Here are a few of the most common causes of basement water intrusion:

  • Clogged gutters and downspouts. A home’s gutters and downspouts should collect rainwater and direct it away from the house. They can’t do their job if they’re clogged with leaves or debris, though. The same goes for downspouts that are too short. Without proper channels to flow away from the home, water will build up near the home’s foundation during heavy rain. When it does, it creates hydrostatic pressure (covered next), which can lead to water intrusion. 
  • Hydrostatic pressure. Basements get wet because they’re underground and, as such, are vulnerable to hydrostatic pressure. Hydrostatic pressure is the term for the pressure water exerts when it builds up around and underneath your home. As water collects around your home’s foundation, it starts to press inward on the walls, forcing moisture through foundation cracks, pipe joints, basement windows or faulty window wells, and other access points. 
  • Expansive soil. Clay-heavy soils expand when they get wet. As they do, they push on the walls, the sides of your foundation, and the ground beneath your home. Over time, this can create cracks that allow water to enter your basement. 
  • Frost heaving and foundation cracks. Frost heave happens when the formation of frost moves the soil, causing uneven sidewalks and patio slabs or even causing your foundation to lift and sink, creating stress fractures that allow water into your basement. While most new homes are built with below-grade foundation walls designed to prevent frost heave, older homes (or homes built against code) may not have these protections. Shrinkage cracks are also common in poured concrete foundation walls. While they don’t impact your home’s structural integrity, they create microscopic gaps through which rainwater can seep into your basement – especially after heavy rain.

3 Steps to Fix Water Damage in Your Basement

remove water from basement

If you’ve noticed water in your basement, you must act quickly to correct the problem. 

Here’s how to fix moisture intrusion problems:

1. Identify the source of the leak

You can’t fix the leak until you know where it’s coming from, so you need to identify the source quickly. 

Pay special attention to cracks in the walls or floor, joints between poured concrete floors and walls, and any gaps in mortar joints or the block that makes up masonry foundation walls. 

In some cases, the water may be entering through the porous material of your concrete foundation. 

If you can’t find the leak in any of those areas, go outside and check the area around your home’s foundation. Poor grading, inadequate gutters or downspouts, and clogged window wells can all lead to water pooling. 

2. Remove existing water

Once you’ve identified the source of the water intrusion, you’ll need to fix the issue that led to the water intrusion and remove the standing water in your basement. 

If the problem was simple, like a clogged gutter, you can likely repair it on your own. 

If more serious issues, like foundation cracks, are to blame, you’ll need the help of a team of professionals to prevent future flooding. More on that later.

In the meantime, remove the standing water from your basement. If the flooding is minimal, you can use a wet-dry vacuum to suck the water up. You can also use a handheld push broom to sweep the water out of the basement. 

If the flooding is more severe, you’ll need to rent a commercial pump to remove the water. To prevent water from running back toward your basement, place the suction hose directly into the deepest point of the water, and run the drainage house outdoors, pointed downhill and away from your home.

3. Call a water damage restoration company

In most cases, water damage restoration is not a job you can DIY. Once you’ve cleaned up the water, you’ll need to dry the space and fix the initial problem, so your basement doesn’t flood again the next time it rains. These tasks usually require professional assistance.

Contact ServiceMaster of Lake Shore for flooded basement cleanup services if you’re in the Chicago area. 

Our restoration experts will work with you to identify the cause of the flooding and provide repairs that will solve the problem and keep your basement dry in the future. 

We’ll also provide industry-leading drying and sanitization services to keep your basement safe from mold and mildew growth. 

The result is a clean, dry, like-new basement that won’t get soggy next time there’s a big storm. 

How to Prevent Wet Basements When It Rains

sump pump in basement

Keep your basement dry with these tips:

1. Double-check your grading and landscaping

Good grading means that the soil around your home is pitched on a slope away from the house’s foundation. This allows water to run down the grade and away from your home instead of pooling near your foundation. 

If you have recurring water buildup issues, you may need to have your property re-graded by a professional landscape team. 

We also recommend double-checking the landscaping around your home to ensure sprinklers and exterior plants don’t allow water to pool around your home’s foundation. 

If you’re considering landscaping your home, avoid planting vegetation right next to the home since watering it will only introduce additional moisture to the soil around the foundation. 

2. Clean, repair, and replace gutters and downspouts

Clean and maintain your gutters at least twice a year – once in the spring and once in the fall. 

Ensure all gutters are in good repair and replace any with holes or worn-out joints. 

Invest in downspout extenders to funnel rainwater away from your home and its foundation. 

3. Add exterior drainage

During construction, builders usually place drainage pipes next to a home’s foundation footing to catch and redirect leaking water. Most teams will also use a tar coating or damp-proofing layer on the foundation’s walls to help prevent moisture intrusion.

Over time, though, these protections can fail: drain pipes become clogged with dirt or sediment, and tar coatings disintegrate. 

As such, we recommend inspecting and replacing (if needed) your home’s drainage pipe and wall coating. While this process isn’t cheap or easy, it can help protect your basement from moisture intrusion during heavy rains. 

4. Clean basement window wells

basement flooding

Faulty basement window wells are a leading cause of basement water intrusion. 

Inspect and clean all window wells annually to prevent moisture and debris buildup.

Identify and seal cracks and crevices with silicone caulk, or consider installing a simple well cover to keep your window wells dry and debris-free. 

5. Install interior drainage system

Some basement water intrusion may be inevitable if you live in an older home. Fortunately, you can keep things dry by installing interior drainage methods like footing drains, sump pumps, and subfloor channels. 

Footing drains catch leaking water before it spreads to the rest of your basement. While adding footing drains to an existing basement can be challenging and expensive, it can also help prevent catastrophic water damage.

If you’re looking for a less invasive option, consider adding a sump pump, which will contain and remove water to prevent buildup and discourage mold and mildew growth. While newer homes may have subfloor channels built into the basement, which catch water and direct it to the sump pump, you don’t need these for a sump pump to operate properly. 

6. Seal all foundation cracks

Foundation cracks are the leading cause of basement water intrusion. Fortunately, they’re also relatively easy to fix. 

Use an epoxy sealer to fill foundation cracks and prevent future water intrusion. 

You can also provide a secondary layer of defense by adding reinforced wall liners to protect your insulation and drywall from water damage in the future.

7. Add an interior waterproofing system

If there’s always water in your basement after it rains, you may need to install a comprehensive basement waterproofing system, including drainage pipes and a sump pump. 

A well-designed interior drainage system will reduce hydrostatic pressure, capture any water that does enter your basement, and push it back outside with the help of a sump pump. 

Talk to your local water damage restoration experts to learn more about these protective systems. 

Is Water Leaking into Your Chicago Basement? We Can Help!

If water leaks into your basement after every big storm, you know how frustrating this issue can be. 

Between the constant cleanup and the stress about damage to your home, it’s easy for basement water intrusion to start taking over your life!

Fortunately, you don’t have to live with that leaky basement forever. Our team is here to help. 

Serving all of Chicagoland and the surrounding areas, we work with residential and commercial property owners to provide basement water removal and restoration services.

Contact us today to learn more about our water damage cleanup services or how we can help you.


Who covers the cost of basement flooding due to heavy rain?

In most cases, homeowners’ insurance will cover basements that flood due to burst pipes or other issues. However, if the damage occurs due to a lack of proper maintenance, it may not be covered. In most states, you need separate insurance to cover water damage that results from natural disasters, underground seepage, and sewer backup.

Why should I fix my leaking basement? 

Many people think that a damp basement is just something they must live with. That’s not true, though! In fact, ignoring even small leaks in your basement can have catastrophic effects – leading to structural damage to your home and health risks for your family. When moisture builds up in a closed environment like a basement, it leads to mold and mildew growth, rusty, ruined appliances, and more. It’s critical to address even tiny basement leaks immediately – before they can do more damage.