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What Happens When You Don’t Remove Water From Your Basement?

Jan 19, 2024

By webfx

what happens when you don't remove water from your basement

If you see small signs of water popping up in your basement, you might think it’s a small problem — or not a problem at all. However, letting water hang out in your basement can lead to structural problems, health issues and an unsafe home. If you want your home to last for years, you need to protect your basement from water intrusions. Understanding how to catch, treat and stop basement water will help you stay comfortable and safe.

What Causes Water in the Basement?

Water is sneaky — if left unchecked, it can cause serious problems for your home. Understanding how water can get into your basement lets you build defenses against moisture and protect your home.


Years of wear, repeated stress or continuous pressure from water can create small cracks in your home’s foundation. While a few cracks might not let lots of water in, too many will allow water to flood into your basement, causing health issues and foundation problems. If you’re seeing basement water but you can’t pinpoint where it’s from, you might have some cracks in your foundation.

Gutters and Downspouts

When your gutters and downspouts are in peak condition, they help redirect water away from your home. However, clogged or improperly set gutters can lead to water collecting against your foundation. Too much water pressing against your house can lead to water soaking through the dirt and foundation, leading to basement water. It’s essential to keep your gutters and downspouts in good condition so they can keep water from getting into your home.

Home Location

Your home’s placement can have a significant impact on your risk of basement water. If your home is situated at a low elevation point, with the land sloping down toward your foundation, you’re more likely to experience water issues. Water will travel down to your foundation, pooling against the house and seeping inside. Guiding the water away from your home will help prevent this.

Additionally, if you have a basement and your home is located in a high precipitation or poor soil drainage area, you may experience more water-related issues. Lots of precipitation means lots of water contacting your home and soil. More water means more chances for that water to end up in your basement. If your area has poorly draining soil, water will pool at the surface against your house instead of draining away through the ground. Both of these factors can lead to excess basement water.

Leaky Pipes

causes of leaky pipes

Pipes help transport water through your walls, keeping your home dry. However, pipe damage and leaks can lead to water escaping and seeping into your basement. Corrosion, high pressure, temperature changes and age can all cause leaky pipes — monitoring your plumbing is essential for keeping your home dry. With damaged pipes letting water get inside, you’ll have a hard time keeping everything dry. Address plumbing issues as soon as you notice them to prevent significant water from pooling in your basement and walls.


Condensation is another internal water issue that can lead to basement troubles. Condensation can occur when the inside of your home is warmer than the outside. This temperature difference can cause moisture to form on surfaces, turning your basement into a damp, uncomfortable space. Investing in proper insulation, ventilation and drainage can help prevent condensation issues.

What Happens if You Leave Water in the Basement?

Once you notice water in your basement, you need to act quickly. Ignoring basement water can lead to lots of structural, health and financial issues. Taking steps to remove and prevent water will save you lots of stress. Here are some of the ways water can affect your home and health if you leave it unchecked:

  • Structural damage: Your foundation holds your home up, keeping it safe and strong. When water gets inside the foundation, it weakens it. Over time, water will cause cracks, shifts and compromises in the foundation, risking your home’s stability and safety. A weak, waterlogged foundation won’t hold up to wear effectively — keeping water out will ensure your safety and protect your home from damage.
  • Mold and mildew: Mold and mildew love spaces with excessive moisture. Persistent dampness and lots of water create an ideal environment for mold growth, letting it spread across your basement and into your home. Mold and mildew can lead to health issues like allergies and respiratory problems, making your home uncomfortable.
  • Health issues: Along with mold-related health problems, excess moisture can lead to other health issues. For example, dust mites love increased humidity — they’ll create more respiratory problems for your household. Additionally, damp conditions create an attractive breeding ground for pests, further compromising your home’s health and cleanliness.
  • Damaged belongings: Your basement might serve as a hangout area or a storage space, and any of the items in these spaces can get damaged when water arrives. Furniture, documents, sentimental items — all are at risk. And it’s not necessarily temporary damage. Water damage can be permanent, leading to the loss of items that hold personal or monetary value. Safeguarding your belongings means taking proactive measures to keep your basement dry.
  • High water bills: Basement water issues can lead to more than just physical damage. For example, leaks and constant dampness can lead to high water bills, and unnoticed plumbing issues might mean sky-high water usage. The more water that escapes your pipes and system, the higher your water bills will be.
  • Expensive repair costs: Dealing with the aftermath of basement water issues often requires expensive repair jobs. From foundation repairs to mold remediation, you might end up with a significant bill. The best way to avoid paying expensive repair bills is by taking proactive measures — appropriate precautions will help you avoid those hefty repair bills.

Signs of Basement Water Damage

signs of basement water damage

Spotting water damage signs early will help you save significant amounts of time, money and stress. You’ll prevent further damage and stop the water in its tracks, protecting your home and your peace of mind. Here are some warning signs to watch out for:

  • Water stains: Check your walls for water stains and other signs of water. Damp walls, discoloration, flaking paint and white chalky stains called efflorescence are all signs you might have water problems. These patches might start small, but they’ll quickly grow as the water damage expands. Make sure to examine your walls regularly, especially in moisture-prone areas, to catch issues early. You’ll spot issues before they escalate, letting you solve the problem before significant measures are needed.
  • Musty smells: Your nose can be an excellent tool for spotting water-related problems. Water, especially water collecting in and around your home, often has a distinct, musty smell. Give your basement a sniff, paying close attention to corners or small spaces. You might find that your basement has a funky odor. These smells could be your body alerting you to potential water damage hanging around unseen.
  • Increased humidity: Sometimes, water signs are more subtle than sights or smells. A sudden increase in humidity levels can be a sign of a more serious underlying problem. Excessive moisture in the air might suggest that your home has more water in it than it should. Monitoring your home’s humidity levels, especially in your basement and crawl spaces, can provide you with a concrete measurement of water-related issues. Investing in a hygrometer to track humidity is a great, proactive strategy for getting ahead of water damage.
  • Uneven floor: Another sign of potential basement water damage is uneven or sinking floors. Over time, water can get into your floors, weakening them and causing structural issues. Structural floor issues might lead to uneven surfaces like sloping or sagging areas. If you notice changes in your basement floor, you should immediately contact a professional.
  • Rotting wood: Wood is commonly used in homes and basements. While wood is a strong and reliable material, it becomes susceptible to rot when exposed to long-term moisture. Water causes wood to decay and its strength to fail. Rotting wood in your basement — such as rotting wood tables or cabinets — is a clear indicator that you’ve got water in your basement, and spotting it is essential for keeping your home safe. As part of your inspection, look at wooden beams, support columns and any other wooded components and check for rot. Keep an eye out for soft and spongy textures, discolorations or rotting smells.
  • Standing water: If you’ve looked into your basement and noticed standing water, then you know you’ve got a water problem. Puddles or pooling water in your basement are clear signs of leaks, poor drainage or potential flooding. Standing water poses an immediate threat to your belongings and increases your risk of mold growth and structural damage. You should find the source of the water and contact a professional to help fix the problem.

How to Prevent Water in the Basement

how to prevent water in the basement

Preventing water from getting inside is the best way to protect your home. With careful proactive measures, you can save yourself from paying expensive repair costs and dealing with safety issues. While committing to regular upkeep may seem daunting, taking some time out of your schedule for maintenance is better than making time to deal with repairs. Use these prevention and maintenance strategies to help keep your basement safe from water damage:

  • Regular inspections: Stay vigilant — perform regular inspections to help prevent basement water issues. Take the time to check your home’s exterior, and pay attention to gutters, downspouts and grading around the foundation. Look for cracks in walls or floors, and promptly address any visible signs of water. Periodically inspect your plumbing systems, ensuring there are no leaks or weak points. Dedicating time to routine inspections helps you stop water-related issues before they start, protecting your home and safety.
  • Proper drainage systems: Effective drainage is essential if you’re fighting regular water intrusions. Make sure your gutters and downspouts are debris-free, allowing rainwater to flow smoothly. Consider extending downspouts away from your house’s foundation to prevent rainwater from pooling near vulnerable points. These drainage measures act as your home’s defenses, keeping water away from the foundation and protecting your basement.
  • Waterproofing: You might also want to invest in waterproofing solutions for your basement. Interior waterproofing methods, like sealants and coatings, create a protective barrier on your basement walls. Exterior waterproofing involves applying membranes or coatings to guard the foundation against groundwater.
  • Use sump pumps: Sump pumps are critical tools when fighting basement water. They’re installed in a sump pit, which automatically detects accumulating water and pumps it away from your home’s foundation. Sump pumps are invaluable in areas that see heavy rainfall or flooding. Combine your sump pump with a backup power source to keep it working during power outages. Using a sump pump in your water-protection strategy will help keep your home safe from water.

How to Repair Damage and Prevent Flooding

While you can take steps to prevent water from getting into your basement, water can still sneak through. Knowing when to contact a professional is essential for preventing and handling the damage. Recognizing the signs you need a professional is essential for protecting your home’s long-term health and structural integrity.

Repairing Water Damage: When to Get Professional Assistance

Understanding your limits will go a long way toward helping you fight water. If you’re noticing persistent water issues or extensive structural damage — or your attempts at stopping the water don’t work — it’s time to call a professional. They’ll take a look at your situation and help you figure out the best solution. Additionally, sudden and severe water intrusions, like flooding, require immediate expert attention to help minimize the damage and protect your home.

Preventing Flooding: Getting a Professional Sump Pump Installation

If you’re dealing with regular water intrusion issues, you might want to get a sump pump. Talk to a professional about your sump pump options — they’ll go over your water problem and give advice on the right sump pump for the job. Once you’ve picked out a sump pump, you should schedule a professional installation. Getting professional work ensures your pump is placed correctly and that it operates seamlessly. Professional installations minimize errors and make sure your sump pump is ready to tackle excess water efficiently.

Protect Your Home With Sump Pump Solutions From Zoeller at Home

Investing in a reliable sump pump is essential for keeping your home safe from water. With a range of industry-leading sump pump options and backup systems for water removal, you can count on Zoeller at Home to give you the tools you need to protect your home and family. Our products are unmatched in quality, providing your home with a lasting, effective shield against water intrusion. With a track record in durability and efficiency, Zoeller ensures our products deliver the services you need.

Enjoy peace of mind with sump pumps from Zoeller. Take your next proactive step in water defense and keep your home safe year-round. Find a Zoeller retailer near you today!

protect your home with Zoeller at Home sump pumps