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Wet Basement Blues


As realtors, we may have concern on behalf of our clients when we see terms associated with a listing such as "seasonal water in basement" or "some seasonal seepage" or, "history of water in basement".  We may be concerned for our sellers if they have some degree of water in their basement, and we may be concerned for our buyer's when the seller of a property in which they have interest discloses such an issue.  It's not that these issues aren't fixable - but they do often require some level of intervention.


One reason for concern is that a wet basement is a hot button issue for most buyers.  When a seller has lived in his or her home for years, seemingly unaffected by a little water in the basement from time to time, it's a challenge to impart to him or her that for a buyer - this type of issue can be extremely off putting.  Dampness in the basement can mean microbial growth, which can mean poor air quality, allergic reactions, health concerns.  It can also mean that dreams of a finished basement are not feasible without expensive interventions such as perimeter drains -- or less expensive solutions such as sump pumps, dehumidification systems, regrading of the property around the outside of the house, and/or redirecting water away from the house.  Oftentimes, the buyers we work with are looking to maximize their living space to include the basement and the attic when they are purchasing a new home.  A wet basement decreases the likelihood of being able to finish off that space -- or at least not without mitigating the water issue.


Water in a basement can come from differing sources:

1.  Pooling of water near the base of  a bulkhead door.

2.  Improperly dispersed water runoff from roof/gutter.  This is relatively easy to address.  Sometimes extending gutter downspouts and/or regrading the landscape around the foundation of the house will help move the water away from the foundation.

3.  Heavy water accumulation during wet weather.  Proper installation of a sump pump can help to remove unwanted water in certain cases.

4.  Cracks in the foundation of the basement.  There are companies that will seal and fill these cracks to prevent further leakage or damage.

5.  Ground water penetration into basement.  This issue can be more serious, as it usually relates the water table level.  In this case, a sump pump might not be sufficient to address this issue.  A perimeter drain, or French drain, might be the only solution.  These can be costly to install.


If you have questions about a house relating to water in the basement, this would be a good time to engage with a buyer's agent, if you haven't already.  A good buyer's agent will assist you with getting the answers to your home-buying questions.

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