What If I Don’t Fix My Leaking Basement?

Posted by in Basements, Concrete, Masonry | May 04, 2015

What can happen if I don’t properly address groundwater infiltration through my basement wall?  That is, assuming that the basement or foundation wall is not overloaded by the combination of earth and excessive groundwater pressures, what could possibly go wrong?

The obvious answer is that groundwater will continue to infiltrate resulting in moisture staining, efflorescence (puffy white powdery deposits), mineral deposits, decay of wood materials that repeatedly get wet, corrosion of iron materials that repeatedly get wet, and/or mold or other biological growth.  If the infiltration has already been progressing for an extended period of time, then whatever is observed on the walls or floors will probably continue to progress, cover a larger area, and/or become more severe.

But in some cases it is worse.  We have actually seen the materials in basement walls  deteriorate.  As it turns out some of the elements in the masonry and concrete materials used for basement wall construction is susceptible to becoming water soluble and being washed out of the concrete, mortar, or block units of the wall causing a loss of material strength.  These are usually the materials used in older materials, but we have seen it in newer materials also.  We have also seen some basement walls materials be weakened by groundwaters (or soils) that have an element that reacts chemically with the elements in the masonry or concrete materials.  In either case the wall materials dissolve, deteriorate, and/or change their make-up and their strength reduces.  Examples of deterioration may be seen in Figures BWD-1 and BWD-2.

 

Figure BWD-1 Basement wall exhibits material deterioration from repeated groundwater infiltration

 

Figure BWD-2 Basement wall exhibits material deterioration from repeated groundwater infiltration

 

So, get that groundwater infiltration problem fixed.

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