Basement Leak Repair: What to Expect

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Want to know how to repair a basement leak? We've got you covered with this step-by-step guide. From identifying the problem to fixing it, we'll make the process easy.

Your basement can be one the most important part of your home, providing storage, housing your mechanicals, and maybe even providing a private area to relax if it’s finished. However, a damp and dark natural environment can lead to water seepage, negative air pressure, and moisture build-up in or around the walls.

Repairing a leak in your basement is no small task. It can take time, patience and a good deal of know-how to get it done right. Even if you’re pretty handy around the house, many DIY repair jobs can turn into a nightmare without a few professional tips on how to tackle them safely and cost-efficiently. Here are some things you need to know before tackling a leak in your home’s lower level:

What does a leaking basement smell like?

High humidity and leaking basement water is one of the most common causes of basement odors. While the exact cause of the smell is likely unrelated to the water problem, it’s often an indication that the odor is coming from the moisture in the air of a leaky basement.

The walls and ceilings of your basement may have a strong musty, moldy odor from mold spores that have been released over time. Because the smell generally comes from a water source, it will likely be stronger in the morning, when the humidity levels are higher.

Another clue that you have a leaky basement is if your home has a strong air flow, or if the basement has a draft. If you can feel a draft in your basement, there could be an air gap somewhere which is also letting water in.

How to find water damage in a basement

Water damage can be difficult to spot, but it can also be an early indication of a larger problem. The first sign that something is wrong in your basement might be a "musty" basement odor. If you notice this, and it persists, it could be a sign of a potential water problem. During spring and summer, when the ground is warmer and the atmosphere around the foundation is more humid, you’re more likely to have water damage in your basement. Try using a dehumidifier in the basement and see if that helps.

Even if you don’t notice a basement odor, it’s still worth looking for. If you’ve got a crack in your foundation, it’s likely that you could also have water damage in your basement as well. If you have any doubts about the condition of your basement, or you notice any signs of water damage, contact a plumber right away.

Ceiling repairs and waterproofing

Ceiling leaks can be particularly difficult to repair, because the damage that’s done to the ceiling is often invisible to the eye. If you have a drop ceiling in your basement or ceiling tiles, you may notice some browning in the shape of a puddle. If you have exposed wooden beams, you may notice some blotchy dark or white spots. You can pry at the wood with a screwdriver and see how easily the driver goes through compared to a healthy looking beam. If it easily goes into the wood, you may have a rotting issue from your leak.

If you’ve got a leak in your basement ceiling, you’ll want to get the water source under control first. Otherwise, the water will continue to seep into the ceiling, which will only get worse as the months go by.

If the source of the basement water is a cracked wall or a foundation issue, we recommend contacting a plumber or mason right away.

Floor repairs and waterproofing

If you’ve got a leak in your basement floor, you may notice water pooling in an area that doesn't have pipes above it. This could signify a crack in the foundation and is a much more serious issue that would require the help of a professional.


Leaks in your basement can cause a range of issues, from a musty smell to a decline in the structural integrity of your home. Fortunately, most of these issues can be fixed quickly and easily and it’s most likely a humidity control issue. With a little planning and a few tips from a professional, you should be able to get back to enjoying your basement in no time.

If you are looking for a reliable contractor to help with household projects, repairs or maintenance, HireHandy can find you the perfect match. HireHandy connects you with the most reliable and trustworthy home professionals near you.

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