Water is a common problem for homeowners, particularly if they have a basement. A walk-out basement adds value to a home but poses problems, particularly if the drainage around the house is poorly done. When a water leak is detected, it is always a good idea to backtrack to try to find the actual source of the water. The best water leak solution is to prevent water from contacting vulnerable leak areas like sub-grade basement doors.
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Examine the basement door first. Any problem with how the door is hung, the condition of the framing, the weatherproofing, a worn out bottom seal or missing caulk can cause the door to leak. These problems are easy do-it-yourself fixes. If the door is in good condition and is properly installed, examine the exterior door space.
Look for evidence of water runoff and drainage. Above the door should be some type of roofing to shed water away from the side wall of the home. If you have gutters, make sure they are cleaned and draining away from the door area and away from the house. Follow water running down the siding to locate where it is coming from. The problem can be a roofing issue or even an upstairs plumbing problem. If the gutters are in good shape and if they drain away from the house, the problem may be improper grading and drainage near the house.
Check the surrounding slope and grade by using tennis balls and following the direction they roll. Note and mark where they stop as these may indicate flat or low spots. Examine the door stoop (the small concrete pad outside most exit doors). If the surrounding grade is toward the stoop, the stoop may have become the low spot where water will collect. No water should flow toward the foundation of a home. When the grade causes this type of condition, install a drainage system to carry water to an appropriate location.
Locate the closest access point to the house drain and waste system. Locate the closest exterior appropriate drainage location. Determine if water running down slope toward the house can be diverted into one of these drains. Sometimes a problem can be solved by regrading to correct the flow of water. A final solution is to remove the stoop, install plumbing and a drain below the grade (so water will not wick into the basement) and threshold of the basement door that is tied to a drainage system. If necessary, install a sump pump to push excess water uphill to an accessible drain area. Reinstall the stoop with the built-in drain. This type of correction may be beyond many do-it-yourself homeowners, but it should provide a permanent solution to water entering the basement door.