As inspectors – we see quite a few basements. The biggest complaint or concern we hear concerns a moisture-related problem. There are three basic reasons for a basement to develop a leak or a moisture problem. Sometimes a little detective work is needed to figure out the problem.

Picture this. A ten-year-old single-family home with stick-built construction setting on a full basement. The basement walls are eight-foot-tall but the house sets only one foot above ground level. Water from the downspouts have continually discharged next to the foundation for ten years. The dirt around the foundation has settled and the foundation has a few vertical shrinkage cracks. Water comes into the basement almost every time it rains. This is not an uncommon problem seen many times over by home inspectors. What is the issue? Why did the water pouring off the roof come into an eight-foot hole in the ground lined with porous material that has cracks? The problem is a combination of hydrostatic pressure and negative grading and improper downspouts working together to form a “perfect storm” of water into the basement.

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