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How to Find and Fix a Foundation Leak

Have you ever gone down to your basement and discovered it’s sprung a leak? Whether it’s a trickle down the wall or a puddle on the floor, foundation leaks only lead to trouble in your home.

Indiana Foundation Service is here to guide you through understanding why your foundation leaks and to offer strategies for repair, ensuring your foundation remains secure and free from water damage.

How Do I Know If My Foundation is Leaking?

This may be the biggest question we hear from homeowners. Knowing what to look for is the first step in protecting your home from foundation leaks.

Why Do I Have a Foundation Leak?

After spotting any of these signs, you may wonder why they happen.

Leaks in the basement can come from many sources, including internal plumbing fixtures and appliances. But foundation leaks are a little different.

The causes are most often rooted in the soil under and around your home. This includes two related phenomena: the clay bowl effect and hydrostatic pressure.

The Clay Bowl Effect

During your home’s construction, builders excavate a large hole to lay the foundation and basement. After the construction is completed, the excavated soil is backfilled in the space around your basement, and the builders attempt to compact it back into place.

However, no matter how thoroughly the construction crew works to repack the soil, it will never regain its original compactness. Instead, the soil is less dense and allows more water to permeate during heavy rainfall.

This phenomenon leads to what is known as the clay bowl effect. The loosely packed soil forms a bowl-like shape around your basement, collecting water and making your basement susceptible to leaks. Water can accumulate and seep through the basement cove (where the walls and floor meet), foundation walls, and other areas, increasing the risk of moisture-related issues.

Hydrostatic Pressure

Water is an incredible, heavy force. When the soil surrounding your home becomes saturated with moisture, it expands, and the accumulated water weight exerts pressure on your foundation.

This is known as hydrostatic pressure. As this pressure mounts, water seeks any possible route to force its way through. This includes existing cracks in your concrete walls or floors, around pipe openings, via basement windows, or it can seep directly through the porous material of the concrete itself.

Additionally, the most frequent entry point for water into a home is the joint where the foundation wall meets the floor. It is often observed that water intrusion leading to basement flooding begins at this critical juncture.

downspout dumping water next to foundation

Other Contributing Soil Factors

Along with these two major factors, others, like poor landscape grading and exterior drainage, are significant contributors.

Exterior drainage—including gutters and downspouts—helps divert water away from your foundation. However, if these systems are missing, damaged, blocked, or improperly installed, you’re likely to experience leaks and damage in your home.

Additionally, if the soil directly next to your foundation erodes, settles, or slopes toward your house, water can collect and leak inside.

Are Foundation Leaks Serious?

It’s always wise to treat any kind of leak as a serious issue requiring immediate attention.

Even seemingly minor leaks can quickly escalate into major problems, compromising your foundation and the entire structure of your home. Small cracks can expand, threatening your home’s structural integrity, allowing water and pests to enter. Similarly, minor leaks can lead to flooding, damage to your possessions, and cause musty odors and mold growth.

Ignoring a crack or leak can result in more significant damage and unsafe living conditions, as well as costly and extensive future repairs. The best approach is to remain vigilant and act promptly as soon as you notice any signs of a problem. This proactive attitude is crucial for protecting your home and ensuring your family’s safety.

3 Ways to Fix Foundation Leaks

DIY foundation leak repair may seem appealing, but we urge you to trust experienced professionals with these projects. Quick fixes are temporary, can lead to repeated efforts and additional expenses, and fail to resolve the underlying issues effectively. For a solution that lasts, professional foundation waterproofing is essential.

installing gutters and downspouts

1. Proper Exterior Drainage and Grading

The first step is to start outside your home by checking and maintaining your gutters and downspouts. Make sure they are free of clogs and damage and that they effectively direct water away from your foundation. In the same vein, landscapers can regrade your yard to have a positive grade, meaning it slopes down and away from your foundation.

installing basement waterproofing solutions

2. Basement Waterproofing

Interior waterproofing protects your basement from leaks, moisture, and mold. A comprehensive system includes interior drains to catch water and direct it to a sump pump, which pumps the water out of and away from your home. A wall vapor barrier prevents vapor intrusion and aids in waterproofing, and a dehumidifier controls humidity levels and improves air quality.

installing carbon fiber strap on basement wall

3. Wall Repairs

You can combat hydrostatic pressure and permanently stabilize your basement walls in several ways. If your walls are not severely cracked or damaged, carbon fiber straps hold them in their current positions. Other methods—including wall beams, wall anchors, and channel anchors—can be adjusted for potential wall improvement.

Trust Indiana Foundation Service for Lasting Solutions

You don’t have to lose sleep wondering if your foundation will leak when it rains. For more than 30 years, homeowners throughout Central Indiana have relied on Indiana Foundation Service for permanent basement waterproofing repair and protection. We’re eager for you to experience the excellence, too.

Contact us to schedule a free inspection and receive a no-obligation repair estimate. We thoroughly evaluate your home to determine the cause of foundation leaks and recommend solutions best suited to meet your needs. Start protecting your home today!


Water typically enters your basement through cracks in walls or floors, leaking joints, seepage through porous concrete, or internal plumbing or appliance leaks. Improper landscaping or gutters can also direct water towards your foundation.  

Risks include structural damage to your home, mold and mildew growth which can lead to health issues, and damage to belongings stored in the basement.

Usually, homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover water in your basement because it’s considered a maintenance issue rather than sudden damage. If you need clarification on the specifics of your policy, it’s best to contact your insurance provider.  

Holly Richards-Purpura

Holly Richards-Purpura

Content Writer

Holly is a Content Writer for Groundworks who has written and edited web content for the foundation services industry for almost 10 years. With a background in journalism, her passion for the written word runs deep. Holly lives in Columbus, OH, with her husband. Along with educating homeowners, she also has a big heart for the Big Apple.

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