Locating a Leak in a Finished Basement

flooded basement image (2)Have you spotted signs of a water leak in your finished basement? The source of such leaks can be tricky to spot, now that there is drywall, carpeting and a ceiling in place. And, if you don’t know where the water is coming from, what can you do to stop it?  If you are like most homeowners, you’d probably prefer to find the source of the leaking water without tearing up your finished basement. Luckily, there are methods of locating a leak without having to remove drywall, carpeting or ceiling tiles.

At Environmental Consulting Group, for example, we use a technology called thermal imaging to find the actual source of a water leak, which often can be far from where you initially spotted the water damage. Thermal imaging is an advanced diagnostic tool that provides an infrared picture of moisture behind walls, under flooring, in crawl spaces and above ceilings. Water in your basement can come from a variety of hard to find leak sources, such as a damaged roof, improperly caulked door frames, or cracks in plumbing.

It is extremely important to find the source of the leak and address it as quickly as possible, rather than only concentrating on the clean-up. Even if the leak has appeared to abate, if the areas are not properly dried and the leak is not fixed, the damage can increase – causing structural problems, mold, and other issues.

If you don’t have a thermal imaging device, you can still try to find the source of the leak with some visual observations. First, look for cracks along your foundation. These cracks can sometimes be very tiny, so use a flashlight to better see them. You may also need to remove dirt around the foundation to spot a crack. If you find one, look for others.

Peeling paint is also a tell-tale sign of water damage and might indicate that the leak is nearby. Also look for water stains, mold and/or mildew on the walls or ceiling.  Check the floor for any lifted floor tiles or even rust around metal appliances. These, too, are signs that water is present, and any leak you have will be close.

Last, you can inspect both the water system and plumbing in your home to see if they are leaking. Look at water supply lines, sinks and pipes for any leaks. Running toilets can also be the source of your basement leak.

Contact a professional if you still cannot find the source of a leak (and to help with drying out your basement quickly).