Skip to Main Content
Crew cutting boards at the job site

What causes basement flooding and how to prevent it

If your basement starts to flood, you’ll want to know why and what you can do to contend with and prevent that kind of damage.

Get A Free Estimate
wet basement
A basement flood can lead to extensive damage to finishing materials and stored items.
Today’s small leak can lead to serious flooding in the future — don’t wait to fix your wet basement!

You may think your home is prepared for any type of weather. Then, after a long day of work, you may step into your basement only to find an unusual amount of water puddled where your floor meets the wall. 

A flooded basement isn’t a personal failing, but it is a serious problem. The longer you let this kind of damage sit in your home, the more likely it is that your structural supports throughout your basement and foundation will suffer as a result. 

The good news is that professionals at Innovative Basement Authority serving the North Dakota, Minnesota, and Eastern Montana areas can help you both prevent and contend with unwanted basement flooding. There are several basement flooding solutions that you can employ to bring your home back up to snuff. You can reach out to these professionals to schedule a home inspection and to look over a free services quote detailing what repairs you might need and what waterproofing measures might best suit your home.

Common Problems in a Flooded Basement

In your tenure as a homeowner, you’re likely to find yourself faced with a litany of problems. When it comes to the care and keeping of your basement, the most common that you may encounter can include: 

The “Clay Bowl” Effect 

If your home was built recently, or you built it yourself, then you’re more likely than other homeowners to find yourself contending with the “clay bowl” effect. Despite its name, you will not find yourself living above a bowl-shaped hole in your hand or anything quite like that. Instead, the “clay bowl” effect refers to the state of the earth beneath your home after you’ve excavated and backfilled a foundation. 

Excavating your foundation in the first place is a necessary burden, as is backfilling that space. When you replace the soil you initially removed, however, there are going to be more gaps in your land than there were before you began building. As such, your foundation and basement are going to be more vulnerable to water damage, simply because the soil beneath your home will be more porous. If you don’t have working gutters and downspouts on hand, then rainwater or snowmelt can rush straight for your foundation and basement, where it can wreak havoc on your home’s structural supports. 

Busted and Broken Pipes 

There is always a chance for the leak you’re contending with to originate inside of your home. The pipes in your basement, for example, are far more sensitive to damage than they initially appear. If these pipes end up exposed to high levels of humidity, they can develop cracks or even burst, especially in the dead of winter. 

A damaged pipe, however, does tend to give itself away. If you’ve noticed the water pressure dropping throughout your home, it’s more likely than not that you have a leak somewhere in your piping. The professionals in your area can help you identify that leak and replace the bits of pipe that appear to be causing problems for you. Furthermore, a professional can distinguish between a bursting washer hose and a water heater failure, helping you eliminate the stress of not knowing what’s gone amiss somewhere in your home. 

Leaking Stairwells 

If you have to step outdoors to reach your basement, your hatchway and stairs can cause a few unwarranted problems for the overall structural integrity of the space. A mismatched hatchway, for example, or one that’s suffered from damage in the past can allow rain and snow into your basement on a regular basis. 

Not only will that unwanted moisture cause problems for your hatch, but it can also damage the stairwell you have leading down below your home. Not only is a water-damaged stairwell a safety hazard for you and your family to contend with, but it is detrimental to the overall value of your property if left unattended. The good news is that, after working with professionals to remove the unwanted water from your basement, you can take advantage of Innovative Basement Authority’s grated drainage system to prevent water from making its way back into your basement later down the line. 

Leaking Walls 

Your walls can also fall victim to unexpected damage as the seasons start to turn over. Hydrostatic pressure, for example, can cause cracks to form in your walls. In turn, the drywall can begin to pull away from the walls, and the walls can begin to bow inward all while water makes itself at home in your basement. 

While that unexpected dampness is strange enough to contend with during the warmer months of the year, it can be more difficult to take on as temperatures drop. At this point, it’s entirely possible that you may discover a thin sheen of ice on your walls—a force that can do serious damage before and after it melts. 

Floor Cracks 

Much like your walls, your floors can suffer from cracks and allow unwanted moisture into your home. Hydrostatic pressure is once again the most common force behind these types of cracks. However, pests and tree roots can also cause your basement floor to start to sink into the ground at an uneven rate. 

An uneven basement floor may be fun for any aspiring skateboarders in your home, but it isn’t good for your family’s safety or the value of your home. More often than not, contending with this kind of damage requires you both to seal the leak in your basement and to elevate your foundation, should there be a sign of slippage outdoors. 

Leaking Basement Windows 

If you have windows in your basement, you’ll want to make sure they’re well-sealed during the damper parts of the year. Basement windows often rest on lower grades than the rest of the accessories surrounding your home, if only for their affiliation with window wells. As such, when it rains or snows, that precipitation will make its way straight for your wells and, subsequently, your windows. 

If you don’t have a strong seal established in your windows or a liner in place in your wells, that water has near-direct access to your basement. Once inside, it can raise your electric bills, sprout mold clusters, and generally make life in your home a little more complicated. The good news, at least, is that a leaking basement window is much easier to fix than a cracked wall or floor. You can reach out to area professionals to determine whether or not you need to replace the entire window in play. Alternatively, drying out your home and lining your window well may fix the problem for you.

Getting Ahead of Basement Flooding

While there are dozens of ways your home may succumb to water damage, there are just as many ways to respond to and prevent that damage. When you reach out to the professional contractors in your area, you can walk through your home and make a point of identifying those damage signs that can help you pinpoint what kind of leak you may be contending with. 

Some signs of a leaking basement include: 

  • Unpleasant smells 
  • Mold clusters 
  • Visible water damage 
  • Sagging floors 
  • Bowing walls 
  • High levels of humidity throughout your home 
  • Higher electric bills 
  • Lower water pressure

Basement Flooding


Even if you’ve waterproofed your basement in the past, it is possible for nature to force its way into your home. Several common causes can contribute to the leakage in your basement, including: 

  • Hydrostatic Pressure 

Hydrostatic pressure, of the pressure put on your home by the moisture in the ground, puts your basement’s structural supports under significant stress. That moisture changes the size of your structural supports’ molecules to the point where said supports crack to compensate for the rapid transformations. 

As your supports crack, they’ll allow more moisture in your home. You’ll not only see more significant flooding or seepage, but your pipes will be at a greater risk for damage due to the higher humidity levels in your home. In short, hydrostatic pressure not only begets leaking but puts multiple structures inside and outside of your home at risk for long-term, expensive damage. 

  • Tree Roots 

While the trees around your home aren’t going to deliberately damage your basement, they can. Tree roots, after all, provide nutrients for the trees’ future growth. As such, tree roots will grow toward sources of moisture and nutrients. If there’s a significant amount of groundwater near your basement or foundation, then these roots will make themselves at home there. 

In doing so, these tree roots can cause the soil around your home to shift, leaving gaps in their wake. Gravity can then force your foundation or basement’s structural supports to cave in to those gaps. Even If the movement around your home is minimal, that kind of shifting can severely disrupt the structural integrity of key supports around your home, further resulting in leaks. 

  • Pests 

Like tree roots, animals and insects can burrow their way both into and around your home. Certain types of animals, for example—rabbits, groundhogs, and other digging creatures—love to create their burrows in places that they know to be warm. Unfortunately, these creatures can leave behind burrows that are 45 feet long or longer beneath the foundation of your home. 

Gravity, in turn, can force your foundation and basement’s structural supports into the gaps these burrows leave behind. In turn, your basement floors can buckle, your walls can destabilize, and your home can lose some of its value as leaks break out throughout your space.

If you’re concerned about how much repairing a leaking basement might cost, you may be tempted to explore some of the DIY solutions that have made their way onto the commercial market. You always have the option to work on your own home. However, if you’re looking to restore the original value of your property, it may be in your best interest to call the professionals. 

  • Losing Money on DIY 

There’s always a chance that you’ll actually spend more money on a DIY basement repair solution that you would on professional aid. After all, the professionals serving North Dakota, Eastern Montana, and Minnesota already have the tools and materials they need on hand or nearby. You, on the other hand, may have to go about purchasing specialty equipment to kick off your DIY work—an expense that can cost you a pretty penny, especially if the tools you need are single-use. 

Similarly, the materials you’ll be in the market for may cost you more as an individual party than they would cost an established contractor. Contractors, after all, can establish business-to-business partnerships with their suppliers, securing materials discounts along the way. Without that kind of help on hand, you may find yourself staring down a mountain of work with your repairs budget already blown wide open. 

  • Damaging Your Home 

The cost of a DIY repair job is one thing. The potential to damage your home further during such a job is another. Unfortunately, unless you have experience working with leaking basements before, you may well make matters worse for yourself if you try to take them into your own hands. Many DIY basement repair projects address the symptoms of your leak instead of the cause itself. As such, in the midst of your work, you may end up covering up the real damage already done to your home. If you work for a superficial solution like this, it’s more than likely that the damage within your basement will continue to fester. In turn, you may find yourself contending with significant seepage, flooding, and even foundation sinkage in the years to come. When you work with a professional, alternatively, you can get to the core of your home’s troubles while referencing a free quote provided to you after an initial home inspection.

Types of Waterproofing Solutions and Repairs

Illustration of a flooding basement and groundwater outside.

When it comes time to repair your basement, you can discuss what available systems might be able to help you better support your basement. Foundation repair solutions like carbon fiber supports, for example, can hold up your basement walls if they’ve just started to pull away from their internal supports. You can even work with a professional to reinforce a damaged floor’s floor joists within one or two days. 

In the aftermath of your repairs, you’ll have just as many preventative options made available to you. Some of the most common waterproofing measures installed in modern homes include: 

  • Interior drainage systems 
  • Sump pumps 
  • Dehumidifiers 
  • Vapor barriers 
  • Waterproof insulation 
  • Anti-freeze exterior discharge line attachments 

While it is true that you may not be able to install all manner of waterproofing measures in older homes, you’ll still have the opportunity to browse a vast catalog and to prevent the kind of damage that’s plagued you in the past from reappearing throughout your basement.

Reach Out to the Basement Waterproofing Professionals at Innovative Basement Authority

A closeup of a faucet

Protecting your basement from seepage and flooding doesn’t have to be a challenge. The experts working in your area have contended with this kind of damage before. They can help you identify the source of unwanted water in your home and seal it safely. Later down the line, they can also help you install those waterproofing measures that can help you avoid seeing repeat damage in the future. Ready to dry out your basement? Reach out to the expert team at Innovative Basement Authority to schedule a free home inspection and repair quote.

Publish Date:

Last Modified Date:

Innovative Basement Authority Service Map

We service Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Eastern Montana for basement waterproofing and crawl space repair.

Fargo, ND

1330 41st St. N
Fargo, ND 58102

Minneapolis, MN

6265 Carmen Ave.
Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076

Rush City, MN

1325 S Frandsen Ave
Rush City, MN 55069

Sioux Falls, SD

101 S. Reid Street, Suite 307
Sioux Falls, SD 57103