Basement Leaks Where The Wall Meets The Floor? (Here's What You Can Do)

Upgraded Home Team
by Upgraded Home Team

Leaking water can cause serious damage to your home. If you have it, you could have to replace possessions, repaint, or even replace your drywall. Leaks can be especially troublesome when they take place in out-of-the-way areas like your basement.

Install a drain tile system if your basement leaks where the tile meets the wall. Don’t apply sealant if the cove joint leaks because it will cause water pressure to accumulate within the wall. You can also install an exterior waterproofing membrane to prevent a future leak.

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Is There a Leak in My Basement?

It isn’t always easy to identify whether you have a leak in your basement. This can be especially challenging in finished basements, which often hide the more obvious signs of a leak.

If your basement is finished, you need to pay attention to your walls, carpet, and floor. You may notice a tiny puddle on your floors, a bit of staining on your walls, or a damp spot on your carpet. These are all signs that you could have a leak in your basement.

Leaks in unfinished basements are typically a bit more obvious. They often show as moisture on a wall. These leaks often occur near cracks in the walls of your basement.

Finding the Source of a Basement Leak

The first step in repairing your basement leak is determining exactly what’s causing it. The leaking you see could be a result of:

  • A leaking water pipe
  • Condensation
  • Or water seeping from the surrounding ground

There are several tests you can use to discover the source of your leak. If your leak is concentrated near an obvious crack in your basement’s walls, tape a small square of foil to it. Leave the foil for a few days before removing it.

After removing the foil, notice where the moisture on it is located. If the moisture is mostly on the front of the foil, the water in your basement is just condensation. If the moisture is mostly on the inside of the foil, then you have a leak.

If you’ve determined that you have a leak, check nearby plumbing systems. Leaks often occur at joints. You may be able to fix the issue by replacing the affected parts.

If you can’t find any plumbing issues, then there’s a good chance that the water in your basement is the result of a cove joint leak.

Why Do Basements Leak Where The Wall Meets The Floor?

There are a number of reasons why a basement may be leaking where the wall meets the floor. Your house’s footings are poured separately from the basement walls, meaning the concrete blocks and poured walls are not attached to the footings. This can cause water to seep underneath the gap, particularly when there is poor or no interior or exterior water proofing.

With that said, the main reasons for there to be leaking where your basement wall meets your basement floor are as follows:

  • No interior or exterior waterproofing
  • Damaged basement waterproofing
  • No sump pump
  • Inadequate floor drainage
  • Clogged weeping tile

Let’s take a look at each of these causes in detail to further understand why basements leak where walls meet the floors.

1. No interior or exterior waterproofing

If your home is older, you likely have little to on waterproofing on your basement exterior walls. In fact, many older homes simply have just a layer of tar on the walls, which can become damaged or wear away over the years.

With the proper waterproofing membrane on the inside or outside of your basement walls, water will eventually make its way into your basement. Any gaps in the wall are ideal candidates for water to infiltrate, whereas, the joint where the wall meets the footing is where looks are most common.

2. Damaged basement waterproofing

If your basement does have interior or exterior waterproofing on the walls but you have leaks where the wall meets the floor, the waterproofing may be damaged. Local building codes require that homes have waterproofing installed to the base of the walls. It does not have to go over the footing, meaning water can slide under the membrane and through the wall/floor joint.

3. No sump pump

If your basement’s waterproofing is undamaged, it’s possible that your sump pump is damaged and not functioning properly. If your sump pump is not operating, water is not being drained around the perimeter of your home. This means that the water will ultimately make its way under your basement walls. Fortunately, this can be inspected and fixed easily.

Though, if you don’t have a sump pump and sump pit at all, this can be a major reason why you have leaks under your basement wall. While interior and exterior waterproofing are excellent, they will fail eventually if you don’t have a sump pump.

4. Inadequate floor drainage

Another possible reason is that the round under your basement floor does not have enough drainage, which can be especially true if you have a heavy, clay-based soil. For best results, it’s important that your sump pump is not only connected to your exterior (or interior) drain pipe but also has holes that allows the soil beneath your home to drain.

If there isn’t a way for the water under your home to drain, it will eventually make its way into your basement.

5. Clogged weeping tile

Weeping tile is the name for a black, perforated plastic pipe that has a white mesh “sleeve” on top for preventing dirt from getting inside. The pipe is installed against your basement footing and encircles your home’s perimeter. Weeping tile is notorious for getting clogged, especially if you have older tile and on mesh sleeve.

You can unclog the tile, but you must use pressurized jets of water to do so. This is not an ideal solution if you already have water in your basement. Instead, you’ll have to dig up the clogged pipe and replace it with a new one that is resistant to clogging.

What is a Cove Joint? What are Cove Joint Leaks?

A cove joint describes the joint between a basement wall and a basement floor. More specifically, it is the joint between a poured concrete wall and floor. When the footing is poured, the contractor will put a groove – called a keyway – into the center. Then, once the wall is poured, it rests in the keyway and limits lateral movement. This is referred to as a “cove joint.”

Cove joint leaks occur at the place where your basement floor meets your basement wall. They often occur after heavy or prolonged rains.

When this happens, the groundwater along the exterior of your basement rises. This creates hydrostatic pressure, which pushes against the walls of your basement. Eventually, the water seeps through cracks in your foundation to form the leak you’re seeing in your basement.

How Do You Fix Cove Joint Leaks?

When leaks occur, a homeowner’s first instinct is to seal it. This is usually a good strategy. However, it won’t work if you’re dealing with a cove joint leak. You shouldn’t try to seal a cove joint leak with waterproofing or through another method. Doing so may temporarily stop the leak you’ve found in your basement.

However, the water pressure will continue building outside of your foundation. Eventually, that pressure will cause the water to find a new way into your home or basement. This means that sealing a cove joint leak will only lead to a new headache for you to deal with down the line.

Instead, the only way to fix cove joint water seepage is to install an interior drain tile system or an exterior waterproofing membrane.

Interior Drain Tile System

The most commonly recommended solution for a cove joint leak is installing an interior drain tile system in your basement. This system will work to relieve the pressure that is causing water to seep through the cove joint and into your basement.

Installing an interior drain tile system is a fairly complex procedure. It involves opening the floor around the perimeter of your basement walls. Then, a perforated drain pipe will be installed at the base of the wall. The system will collect water and empty it into a sump pump before it can seep into your home.

Cove joint leaks affect your home’s foundation and can cause serious issues when dealt with improperly. For these reasons, you should probably hire a professional to install an interior drain tile system for you.

Exterior Waterproofing Membranes

In certain situations, it’s not a good idea to try and fix a cove joint leak from the interior of your basement. You may need a different solution if the water is seeping over the top of your foundation, you have porous concrete walls, or your basement is highly finished.

In these scenarios, installing exterior waterproofing membranes is often the best option. These work to address the source of the leakage before it enters your home.

This solution involves excavating near the source of the leak and applying a coating to the foundation wall. You may also need to install a perforated drain pipe to send the excess water to a better location.

When installing exterior waterproofing membranes, you may need to excavate obstructions like concrete and asphalt first. This is another complex solution that is typically best dealt with by a professional.

What to Do Immediately When There’s Water in Your Basement

The fixes described above are long-term strategies you can use to address the root causes of a joint cove leak. However, you may also need to take immediate action if you notice water in your basement.

If your basement is wet, there are several things you need to do. First, prioritize the safety of yourself and your family. Refrain from handling any electrical devices while in a water-soaked basement. If you must go into the basement, be sure to wear rubber boots and stay away from any electrical wires or devices.

If you’re able to, you should also remove any materials and items from your basement that can attract mold. This is a list that includes materials like:

  • Fabric
  • Wood
  • Leather
  • Paper

When these materials get wet, they can begin growing mold in a day or two. Mold presents several health risks that can make being in your basement dangerous. If you think mold is already growing in your basement, take extreme caution before entering it.

How Much Does it Cost to Fix a Joint Cove Leak?

The cost of fixing a cove joint leak can vary considerably based on several factors. Your costs could be impacted by:

  • Your location
  • The severity of the leak
  • Whether an interior drain tile system or exterior waterproofing membranes are the best solution

That being said, the average cost to repair a cover joint is between $200 and $300. However, this is likely only the case for simple fixes.

More involved solutions may cost anywhere from $2,500 to $15,000 to implement. Be sure to check with multiple contractors before hiring one to ensure you get the best price possible for your joint cove leak solution.

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Related Questions

Does homeowners insurance cover water in the basement?

Your coverage will vary based on the specific plan you have. However, most types of homeowners insurance do cover financial losses resulting from basement floods.

How long does it take for a flooded basement to dry out?

Flooded basements can take anywhere from 12 hours to two weeks to dry out. This is dependent upon the severity of the water issue and the method of drying you use.

Upgraded Home Team
Upgraded Home Team

We are a team of passionate homeowners, home improvement pros, and DIY enthusiasts who enjoy sharing home improvement, housekeeping, decorating, and more with other homeowners! Whether you're looking for a step-by-step guide on fixing an appliance or the cost of installing a fence, we've here to help.

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