Water Damage

Source of Water Problems and Where Stains Can Be Found

Drain tile problems (sediment, roots, iron ochre, pitch)

A drain tile problem can cause staining and water at the bottom of the wall and through cracks in the floor.

High water table

A high water table problem can cause staining and water as high on the wall as the water table is in the surrounding ground. Water and stains can also be found at or near cracks in the floor.

Cracks in the wall

Water entering a crack in a block wall usually will flow down the cavities of the block and enter the basement at the floor level. This usually leaves stains high on the wall and spreads wider as the water flows down within the wall. Water can enter the basement higher if there is an obstruction in the block hollows or if there is a large amount of water flow.

Poor grading, pitch of concrete, downspout extensions, or gutter problems

Most walls will leak if water pools next to them. So if the proper maintenance of the items listed above is not properly performed, a problem will most likely arise. Water can enter over the top of the wall or through any cracks or pinholes in the wall. The water and stains can appear anywhere along the wall and flow on to the floor. A large water flow to the foundation wall can also overwhelm your drain tile system making problems appear bigger than they are.

Broken storm sewer lines (under ground sump discharge)

A broke storm line leading from your downspout or sump pump discharge line can cause water to pool next to the foundation. The water and stains occurs on the wall at the point of the break down to the floor. Water can also flow on to the floor. A broken storm line can also overwhelm your drain tile system making problems appear bigger than they are.

Pitch of underground stratum or field tiles

Water may follow a layer of sand or stone to the foundation as well as an old field tile. Water and stains can appear on the wall at the level of the stratum or field tile going down to the floor. Water may also flow on to the floor. The pitch of the ground under the patio and its layer of stone might also be a source of water and stains.

Sump pump malfunction

If the sump pump is not working or set at the proper level, water can back up into the bottom block and through cracks in the floor. Staining may occur at the bottom of the wall and at floor cracks.

Water entering above grade through brick veneer and sills

This happens when water flows down the brick veneer or siding. This usually occurs during driving rains and is more common on two story homes that do not have a roof break between stories. Water and staining can occur on any part of the wall but usually starts at the top of the wall. In most cases the floor joist and the area of the wall they are sitting on is wet and stained.

Ice damming on roof

When the gutters are full of ice and the snow melts, or there is winter rain, water can back up under the roof shingles and flow down the cavity of the wood walls, covering the basement walls and floor with water. In a case like this, water can sometimes be seen on the first level of the building. Water will be visible at the floor joist and floor boards.

Capillary action

This can occur anywhere on the wall where water comes in contact with it. Usually only staining or dampness is found. This is most common at the bottom of the wall where water in the drain tile is in contact with the wall.


Condensation occurs when warm moist air comes in contact with a cooler surface. This can be found on any part of a floor or wall. It is most common in corners and other areas that lack proper air flow. It is also common at the coldest part of the wall, the top during the winter and the bottom during the summer.