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How To Stop Water From Coming Up Through The Basement Floor

How To Stop Water From Coming Up Through The Basement Floor
How To Stop Water From Coming Up Through The Basement Floor
If you want to know how to stop water from coming up through your basement floor, you’re in the right place. This article has everything you need to know, including why water is coming up through your basement floor, how to prevent it, and how to stop it.

How To Stop Water From Coming Up Through The Basement Floor

The only way to stop water from coming up through the basement floor is by installing a drain tile system to collect rising moisture.
  • Drain tile system – There are two types of drain tile systems: interior, and exterior.
    • Interior drain tile  – An interior drain tile system is placed underneath your basement floor around the perimeter of your foundation walls. This system uses a perforated (filled with holes) pipe laid in a bed of washed stone. This pipe collect and redirects rising groundwater to a sump pit.
    • Exterior drain tile – Just like an interior drain tile, an exterior system uses a perforated pipe laid in a bed of washed stone. But, this system is laid outside your foundation walls. This is beneficial if you don’t want to remove any drywall or concrete in your basement.
water in drain tile trench
  • Vapor barrier – A vapor barrier is a thin polyethylene sheet that’s wrapped around your foundation walls. This will prevent moisture from seeping through your basement walls, channeling any water into the drain tile system below.
  • Sump pump – A sump pump is a fixture that sits inside a sump pit. Once water is deposited into the sump pit from the drain tile system, the sump pump will eject it from your home using a discharge line. The discharge line transports water at least 20 feet from your home in order to prevent further water seepage.

Why Is Water Coming Up Through The Basement Floor?

The main reason water is coming up through your basement floor is due to something called hydrostatic pressure. This is when water accumulates in the soil outside your basement walls or floors and pushes against them. Water can weigh around 60 pounds per cubic foot, making it a very heavy force.
The most notable place water enters through is the cove joint. The cove joint is the space between your foundation wall and basement floor. Your slab and wall were poured separately, and that’s why this space exists. The only way to counter water seepage through your cove joint is by installing a drain tile system.
sump pump before installation
7 ways to prevent water seepage in your basement

How To Prevent Water Coming Up Through The Basement Floor

You can prevent how much water comes up through your basement floor by controlling how much moisture saturates your soil. Here’s how you can do that.
  • Add a French drain to your yard – A French drain is a below-ground pipe that collects water that pools in your yard. These are very useful in preventing water buildup and puddles.
  • Clean and extend your gutters – Gutters should not be pouring water too close to your basement. Otherwise, water will saturate the soil near your walls and floors. By extending your gutters at least 20 feet away from your home, you can stop water buildup. Also, remember to clean your gutters as often as you can to prevent water from pouring over the sides.
  • Grading (sloping) your property away from your home – If rain is draining toward your basement, water could saturate the soil near your walls and slab. You could grade your property yourself, but we recommend calling in an expert.

Is Water Actually Coming Up Through The Basement Floor?

There’s a chance your basement floor might be experiencing “sweating.” Sweating is when condensation sticks to your floors and walls, developing wet spots. This may look like water is coming up through your foundation floor, but it’s actually just the air in your basement. Here’s a simple way you can test whether or not your basement is “sweating.”
  1. Tape aluminum foil over damp spots in your basement.
  2. Wait one day.
  3. If moisture forms on the outside of the foil, water is condensing from the air.
  4. If moisture is forming on the inside of the foil, water is seeping through your basement floor or walls.
Covering your walls with a vapor barrier and installing a dehumidifier can help counter condensation in your basement. The vapor barrier will catch moisture and transfer it to your sump pump, and the dehumidifier will regulate the humidity in your basement. This combination also works great if you have a crawl space foundation instead of a basement.
vapor barrier basement

Who Can Stop Water From Coming Up Through The Basement Floor?

If you’re living in the Greater Chicago area and water is coming up through the basement floor, you should call The Real Seal. Since 2011, we’ve been waterproofing and sealing thousands of basements and crawl spaces. Call today, and we’ll come out and inspect your basement, find out where the water is coming from, and apply the most effective solution. We also offer foundation repair, crawl space repair, concrete leveling, and more.


Austin Werner

Austin Werner is the Owner of The Real Seal LLC, a basement waterproofing and foundation repair company. Austin believes that having a highly trained and happy team is the key to success. This is reflected through hundreds of 5 star customer reviews his company has received online.

40 Responses

    1. Hello! Yes, we would recommend Dalinghaus Construction. If they cannot help you, they will know someone who can.

  1. In wet/rainy seasons is it common for water to be under basement floors even though there is no seepage into the basement? My 1969 home has an exterior drain system with 3 small foundation holes to allow accumulated water to drain into a floor drain and then into a he city sewer system. The exterior drain system appears to function properly.
    However, after removing some basement concrete flooring for remodeling a basement shower & toilet. With a temporary low area under the slab for the drain plumbing remodeling, water has been seeping into low area of the surrounding sand & gravel fill until the drain plumbing is finalized and the concrete floor area is re-poured.
    I keep dipping out the water, only for more water under the basement floor to seep back into the hole.
    So the question is, is it common for basement floors to have water under them even when the exterior perimeter drain seems to be functioning correctly? Again, I’ll he basement walls & floor are otherwise dry and no seepage or floor condensation is otherwise observed.

    1. Great question, Randy! It actually is common for most basement floors to have water underneath them. After all, what’s underneath your floor but the Earth? And when it rains, water is present.

      A Drain Tile System is designed to keep water beneath the floor level, but it does not eliminate all water underneath your home. Again, that dirt/water goes all the way to the center of the Earth! The main purpose is to keep the water level low enough that it does not come through the floor or Cove Joint.

      If the only water you are seeing is underneath the floor where you opened up the slab to re-do the plumbing, I would not worry about that. If that water rises to the point where it comes through the floor, that is when you know you need to install a new Drain Tile System. The existing Clay Drain Tiles that were installed at the time of construction will collapse and clog over time. Just something to keep an eye on.

      Let me know if you have any other questions!

  2. Can you recommend someone in Almena Wisconsin? Friend’s basement is under 1″ of water and it’s still coming in

    1. Hi Karina!

      Unfortunately, we don’t know anyone up in Almena. Best bet is to compare reviews across all sites (Yelp, Angie’s, BBB, Google) to see who is consistently making their customers happy.

  3. I have an older home in Norridge Il, 30 years ago I dug the basement floor down a foot due to a low ceiling, I found there was no footing under the concrete foundation so we formed out an interior footing at the bottom to secure the foundation , my Plumber installed Pex tube heating in the floor before the full pour, I asked him if we need to add drains or Drain Tile & he said no it will never leak, so 30 years later I still get water after heavy rains in certain places. I’m sure I need Drain Tile but in order to cut the floor I’d probably cut the Pex Heat Tubing since it goes up to the Foundation walls, the tubing could be repaired but that’s a ton of connections to splice together, Now that I rattled you a bit, what are your thoughts ?

    1. Hi Bob!

      That’s definitely an interesting one. You will need a Drain Tile to keep water from flooding your basement. In order to do so, you are correct, we will need to cut open the floor and break some of those tubes. How this works whenever we run into radiant floor heating is the plumber will need to come turn off the system before we start, repair the tubes once we have dug out the trench, and then start/test the system to make sure it’s back to functionality.

      The only way to avoid this is to dig the foundation out from the outside to install the Drain Tile System. This tends to be much more expensive, and the preferred method is still from the interior.

  4. Thank You for getting back so quick, I’d like for you to look at what I have & the best way to repair , it will be from the interior for sure. Please E-Mail me all you contact info Have a Great Easter !!

    1. Hi Erin!

      Unfortunately we do not have any referral partners up in Madison. Let us know who you find and if you had a good experience with them!

  5. Hi,

    I have water coming from the cement basement floor. The concrete floor is very old and the water is coming up from the center as well as from the cove joint near one of the walls.

    My question is:
    Can placing a sump pit and pump near that cove joint (which is also the lowest part of the floor) prevent the water from coming up in the center of the room.
    Should I dig into the center and place a perforated pipe running to the wall where the pit is or will the pump by the wall be enough to absorb the water underneath.


    1. Hi Ed!

      We have some great videos of this on our media page. To be clear, a sump pit and pump in the corner will not solve your water issue. In order to capture the water in the middle of the floor, you will need to run 4″ Drain Tiles along the perimeter of the basement that lead to that sump pit. It is a large project to be sure.

      How water gets in through the floor is pretty simple. You have a “bowl” in the ground where your house sits that will fill up with water in rain. As the water builds up, it surrounds the house and builds pressure. This pressure will start to push water through the concrete floor via cracks, low spots, and the cove joint. Installing the perimeter Drain Tiles that I mentioned above will keep the water from building up enough to push through the floor.

      I would not suggest doing one line of Drain Tile to the center of the floor. If you plan on living in your house forever and this works, great. If you ever plan on selling, anyone coming in will, rightfully so, point out that it wasn’t done correctly. They’ll then ask for credits to install a proper Drain Tile with a warranty.

    1. Hi Anthony!

      You can give AMC911 Crawl Space & Foundation Repair in Norfolk, VA a call. I am not sure if they travel to your area, but they are the company we know in Virginia. Let us know how it goes!

  6. Hello!

    Thank you for your helpful blog articles! Found your site when doing some research on possible solutions to our basement having flooded. Do you happen to know anyone in the Denver metro area in Colorado? Would love to give them a shout since you clearly know your stuff!

    Thanks again,

    1. Hi Jessica! Thanks, we’re always happy to help! Unfortunately we do not have anyone we know in Colorado area. Let us know who you find and if you like them!

  7. In my basement, I have a French drain that runs to a sump pump. After heavy rains, I have water seepage up through the floor in front of the drain and no dampness in the drain itself/sump pump does not run. Yard appears to slope correctly and the wall is not damp. Any idea why this happens and what can be done? Thanks.

    1. Hi Judy!

      It looks like your drain tile was installed incorrectly, unfortunately. The Drain Tile should fill with water before your floor floods, and if it is not, then there is an issue with the water getting to the tile.

      This could be because the Drain Tile is set too high and level (many contractors mistakenly think that Drain Tile and French Drains are the only pipes that run water that do not require a grade. They most certainly need to be sloped to run water and this is the most common thing we see).

      The only solution here would be to tear up and re-do the Drain Tile. Do you have a warranty with a company who installed it or did it come with the home?

        1. In that case, you’ll need to reach out to a Foundation Waterproofing company in your area to get an evaluation, most likely on a new Drain Tile. What area are you in?

  8. Hello. Thanks so much for this information. Do you have any recommendations for Baltimore, MD?

    1. Hi Donnisha!

      Unfortunately, we do not. I would suggest going on Yelp, Angie’s List, and BBB and reading the reviews and any complaints to find the best company.

  9. Hi Austin, my house build in 2000 and I have sump pump system. However, after each heavy rain (2-3 days), I see wet spots in my basement floor. It appears in one room only. What could cause this issue? Thank you!

    1. Hi Ragheed!

      Good question. Assuming that your Drain Tile and Sump Pump were installed correctly, you are likely looking at a Foundation Crack. In the room that is getting water, you will need to take down some drywall around the area to find the source.

      1. Hi Austin, thanks for the quick reply!
        I took down a couple of drywalls and no source of water what so ever. Also, rod halls in that area are patched and no sings of water stain. The wet or (moisture) spots are only appear in heavy rain days and they are kind of away from basement walls. Any suggestions? Thank you!

        1. Happy to help Ragheed!

          If you are getting water away from the walls during heavy rain, the Drain Tile System you have in place is not doing what it was intended to. I would have a local company come out and take a look.

          Water comes in the basement through 4 main channels:

          1) Over the top of the foundation
          2) Through the foundation (cracks)
          3) Under the foundation (floor cracks, cove joint, floor gaps)
          4) Sewer Backup

  10. I appreciate all the advice and suggestions you provide….and wish you were nearby! After days of saturating rains – a lot of water does come up from the middle of my basement (1949 cape). If I’m understand correctly, I would need to have drains installed inside the perimeter of the basement to relieve the pressure and direct the water elsewhere. A couple of questions… would doing 2 sides of the basement suffice or do all 4 sides really need to be done? How can I tell that the contractor is qualified (I know, tough question if I have no referrals – which I don’t); and do you want to come to CT?! Just kidding – but do you have any recommendations for southern CT?
    (I also need to remove all the water damage at base of walls). Thank you for your help!

    1. Hi Mary Ann!

      I wish we were closer too! Unfortunately we do not come out to CT or know anyone in that area at the moment. We would love to know if you have a good experience with someone so I can add them to our referral list.

      To answer your questions:

      1) The best way to install a Drain Tile System is to install a full perimeter system. If you are only getting water through 2 sides, it is possible to do a partial system. Just know that in the future water can find a way in the other sides that are not protected and you may need to finish the system. If you plan on finishing the basement, we highly recommend doing the full system.

      2) The best way is to compare reviews (and read the reviews) across multiple sites. Some contracts do fake reviews, but it is difficult to fake them across all mediums (Yelp, Angies, BBB, Google).

      Let us know if we can help in any other way!

    1. Hi Pam! Unfortunately we don’t have anyone we know in the Milwaukee area, I’m sorry! If you do find someone and have a good experience, could you please pass their info along so we can add them to our referral list?

  11. Hi Austin. I live in Rockford, IL. My house has a cement block foundation, built in 1928. I have water seeping up through a “opened” crack in the basement floor, & 2 sides at the floor. My question is can I get away with grading the ground instead of a drain pump system. My quote for the system is up to $8000. I have a new roof & new gutters with longer extentions at the ground. I just hate to spend that much money if there may be another solution. I am at retirement age & money is important to hold on to. Thank you.

    1. Hi Teresa!

      When dealing with seepage through the floor, a Drain Tile is the proper solution. You can try regrading and extending your gutters, but I would not hold my breath on that being the only solution. However, once a Drain Tile is installed, you will get a Lifetime Warranty against seepage in the floor.

      There are some financing programs that can be utilized to help break those payments up so it’s more affordable. Once you go to sell your home, the buyers will be likely asking for a credit for that system if you do not install it.

      I’m sorry I wish I could give you better news!

  12. Hi! We have been in our room for 11 years and just started getting water in our basement. It happens a few days after a heavy rain and is only in a very small area right at the bottom of the stairs.
    What could be the cause and solution?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Leigh!

      It is very difficult to diagnose anything without being on-site. It could be a simple crack, over-the-top seepage from a door exit right at those stairs, or even from the Cove Joint.

      The most likely of the 3 will be the crack or the over-the-top seepage. To know for sure, you’ll have to get under the stairs, and if there’s any drywall, remove the drywall, and see what is behind.

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