Over The Top Seepage

As winter snow finally melts and spring storms bring tremendous amounts of rainfall, leaky basements become a common problem. When homeowners find water in their basement, their initial thought is usually that it got in through cracks in the wall or floor. However, in some cases, water may come into the basement from over the top of the foundation where it meets the main floor of your home. This commonly happens when the grading on the outside of the house causes water to pool next to the foundation. Many times, foundation seepage can be fixed through having a landscaper come to re-grade the dirt away from the home.
 
The top of the foundation should extend above ground level by a few inches at the very least. However, aesthetic additions—such as brickwork and landscaping—create the perfect opportunity for water to seep over the top of the foundation wall. This problem is amplified even further when you’re located in an area on lower grounds.
 
Some Potential Warning Signs of Foundation Seepage are:
  • Dripping. One of the most common signs is water dripping down the walls from the top of the foundation.

  • Puddles. If you notice puddles forming near the wall and cove joint or near the foundation wall after a big storm, you may need a foundation seepage repair.

  • Stains. Stains on your basement walls are another typical symptom of this issue.

  • Mold. When moisture continually runs down your walls, you may notice mold growing in those damaged areas.

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Over The Top Seepage

Significant amounts of moisture constantly resting against your foundation puts a ton of unnecessary pressure on the walls. If left unattended, it will eventually break through the seal you have in place and start to run into your basement. There are two types of moisture concerns to take note of when you’re dealing with a basement leaking at the top of the foundation wall:

Above-Grade Moisture: This occurs when water comes in where the foundation meets the house.

Below-Grade Moisture: This happens if the water is coming in through cracks in the foundation. If this is the case, you’ll notice moisture saturation whenever it rains.

If you’re dealing with a basement leaking from the top of the foundation wall, you may need to consider exterior waterproofing options as opposed to interior ones. Many people with fully finished basements prefer this option as it gets the job done without causing any harm to the interior. During your complimentary consultation, we’ll be able to tell the exact type of issue at hand and better guide you toward potential solutions.

Tuck Pointing

Another issue is tuck pointing. Tuck pointing is a great way to enhance the appearance of your brick or stonework because it adds dimension and gives an overall cleaner look. However, the mortar between bricks on the side of the house can deteriorate and allow water through them. Whether it’s from freezing temperatures, heavy rain, or other extreme weather conditions, the structural integrity can diminish over time, so it’s important to keep up with the maintenance in order to prevent unnecessary flooding. A good tuck pointer will solve this issue. Gutter extensions also are a common and easy fix to bring water away from the foundation.
 
For situations where these fixes are neither possible or enough, we have a solution that works to prevent the storm water from penetrating the foundation. We can install our 3-part seal that will seal the void between the foundation wall and brick above it, preventing water from ever penetrating at the seam.

Fireplace & Chimney Foundation Sealing

One of the weirder places you will see water coming in is through HVAC ducting lines, many of which go into the Fireplace stack. These vent lines deal with the Carbon Monoxide and exhaust discharged from the systems. Water can come in from around the edges of the pipe where it enters the wall. You will see it drip down the wall, and sometimes even get in the pipe and drip on your Water Heater and Furnace.
Here’s the tricky part. There is not just one way for water to come in through those pipe penetrations into the Chimney Stack. This water can be caused by one, or more of the following issues:
  • Foundation Crack in Chimney Foundation
  • Tuck Pointing Issues in Chimney above the Ground
  • Flashing Issues with the Siding
  • Chimney Sill on the top
  • Chimney Cap

So how is someone going to determine the source of the water if it could be coming from 5 or more places? Frustrating, we know. Especially when they all produce water in the EXACT same place. Like anything, we need to perform a step-by-step process of elimination in order to determine the source of the leak. The process looks something like this:

  1. Chimney Cap & Sill to be checked for good condition: A homeowner may already know this, especially if they had work done recently. If they are unaware of the condition of either of
  2. Flashing Issues Inspected: Flashing against the Chimney can be easy to spot many times. Especially as there should be a caulk seal against the Chimney, if it has moved or pulled away, remnants of it can still be seen. Any seals/openings are recommended to be sealed by a professional.
  3. Tuck Pointing Issues: You would be surprised at how a small hole in the mortar joints between the brick can cause water seepage inside. More to the point, these small holes can cause a LOT of water. Even Tuck Pointers argue depending on the size of the hole, but this is where a hose test is really effective.
  4. Foundation is Inspected for Cracks: With the top of the foundation exposed, or a little digging, we can identify Foundation Cracks from the top in most cases. There are a few cases where the crack is horizontal and unable to be identified from exterior or interior. What then?

Process of Elimination for Foundation Seepage Repair

It comes down to this: If the Chimney cap, sill, flashing, and tuck pointing are all in good condition and sealed, the water must be coming from below the foundation. Weather that be a foundation crack, honeycombing of the foundation, or a straight hole. Yes, we did dig out a Chimney Foundation and find a 1.5” diameter hole. No reason we could find it would be there, but it connected right into the stack and allowed water to pour inside.
 
Sealing the Chimney Foundation is the same process as sealing Over-The-Top. We use an Elastomeric Waterproofing Tar with a vapor barrier to stop any water from penetrating, or even touching, the foundation. In some cases, it is necessary to install a Drain Tile System at the bottom as well. With fireplaces in basements, water can come up from under the fireplace. This can lead a company to incorrectly diagnose the issue and not install everything needed. Be sure to call a professional!

How Much Does Foundation Seepage Repair Cost?

Foundation Sealing, Exterior Sealing, Over-The-Top Foundation Seepage Repair are all one in the same category. These issues can be repaired with a number of different solutions:
  • Sealing of Foundation where it meets Brick/Stone/Block siding
  • French Drains and Water Management
  • Sealing of entire Foundation Wall (Drain Tile Needed, read below for more)
  • Sealing between Sidewalk/Concrete and Foundation Wall or Brick/Stone/Block siding
  • Tuckpointing
  • Window Seals
  • Flashing
  • Chimney Cap

Due to the amount of issues that can happen, and how it is imperative to address all the issues, we do not carry warranties for this work. If water is not properly managed in all the above facets, it can still get in, and will appear in the exact same place as before. This could lead you to think that the company made a mistake on installation but could really mean another source of water. It is best to have ALL areas evaluated and addressed by a professional.

Foundation Seepage Repair Where It Meets Brick, Stone, or Block Siding

This is usually done because the top of the Foundation Wall is below grade/ground, which causes water buildup to wear away the mortar joints and allow water to come in. This is repaired with a Elastomeric Waterproofing Tar. This is applied on the top couple inches of the Foundation Wall and then a couple inches above the ground level.

French Drains and Water Management

French Drains can be a great tool in moving water away from an area through which it is penetrating the Foundation. Getting the initial water away is the most important thing you can do for your basement. It is important to realize that you need a place to run the water, it does not just disappear. If it is a low spot in the yard, a Storm Sewer can be a good option for a connection.

Sealing of Entire Foundation Wall

This can be an issue for a lot of older homes, especially those of Brick/Block/Stone Foundations. These can be very porous and allow water to seep in through the walls. While the initial thinking is to just seal the wall, this can lead to trouble!
 
A sealed wall, with no Drain Tile, can still leak! Surprisingly enough, if you seal the Foundation Wall without installing a Drain Tile, the Foundation Wall can act like a candle wick. Candle wicks work by soaking up oil via a rope that is dipped into the reservoir. Your Foundation Wall will act very similarly with water. The older, more porous, and especially stone Foundations can all do this.
 
We have seen water wick up a wall 3 feet!!! Can you imagine having your wall sealed and the next day it leaks 3 feet up? That would be quite a surprise. The reason is that the Foundation Wall is sitting in a pool of water under the house, just soaking up water until it can’t hold it. While it is weird to think of concrete being able to absorb water, it absolutely can. 
 
Installing a Drain Tile below the sealed wall at the footing of the foundation will allow the water to be drained so the wall is not sitting in that pool, thus not wicking up water and ruining the seal for which you paid so dearly. 

Tuck Pointing/Window Sealing/Flashing/Chimney Cap

These 4 above-Foundation issues are not part of our current services, but can produce water in the same places as the other issues noted above. We have seen a PINHOLE in the mortar joints in brick that streamed water in. 
 
You would be surprised how many Tuck Pointers even miss these issues, or claim they are not issues. Water can make its way through mortar joints in brick and easily end up at the top of your foundation. A simple hose test will help to determine where the water is coming from. Be sure to work your way bottom to top!
 
Window Sealing is also an issue. Bad window seals can allow water into the siding/brick, which can drip down to the top of the Foundation. 
 
Flashing can sometimes be in disrepair/worn/non-existent (never over-estimate the abilities of builders) and cause the same issues as above. Be sure to have the flashing looked at as well. 
 
Chimneys, including Caps and Sills, can be an issue. Water dripping and seeping in through here can often times be found in the exhaust chutes for the Furnace and Water Heater. These tend to discharge Carbon Monoxide through the Chimney vent, so the easiest path for water to go is through or around these openings. 

Warranty

As discussed above, you can see that there are many ways water can come over-the-top of your foundation. Addressing just one of these issues likely will not stop the water. In addition, wild swings in weather (freeze/thaw, wet/dry) can also affect these seals. UV light can even wear away sealant! 
 
For these reasons, we are not able to provide any warranty on Exterior Sealing. It is imperative that all issues are addressed and repairs are done regularly. Sealing windows, Tuck Pointing, Exterior Sealing, Chimney Cap/Sill will all need to be done every now and again in order to maintain the integrity of your home. Be sure to get with a qualified professional for each issue to determine the sources of the water. 
Give us a call at (847)996-9312 if you have any questions and remember, “Not Everything’s Better When Wet”!

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“Not Everything’s Better When Wet”®