The pipes running through your basement need just as much protection as the space itself. If your pipes end up damaged, you may find yourself dealing not only with a general sense of discomfort in your home but significant structural decay as well.
Damaged pipes tend to leak moisture throughout your home. Even if you’re not seeing substantial puddles in your basement, a leaking pipe adds moisture to your air, subsequently increasing the amount of humidity your home has to deal with. The longer that moisture lingers in the area, the more likely it is that other elements of your home will succumb to hydrostatic pressure. This force and others can cause all sorts of additional damage to appear in your basement, including:
- Bowing walls
- Sagging floors
- Cracks along your joints
- Cracks near your door and window frames
- Mold and wood rot
In short, the state of the pipes in your basement has a lot of sway over the state of the rest of your home. If you think you’re dealing with some kind of leak, you need to reach out to the professionals in your area. Contractors serving Raleigh and Winston-Salem, NC, can walk through your home and determine what force, specifically, has caused your pipes to start leaking. From there, it’s just a matter of determining what kind of repairs you want before you can take your home back from your unwanted moisture damage.
Weakened Pipes: Explaining a Leak
The pipes in your basement can start to leak for a myriad of reasons. Some of the most common include:
Hydrostatic pressure is one of the most persistent forces to work against the overall structural integrity of your basement, not to mention your pipes. This force causes your pipes to change size on a molecular level. As the temperature in your basement drops, your pipes will shrink; as the temperature warms back up again, then the pipes will expand. Changes like this aren’t dangerous in the short term. Let hydrostatic pressure in your home go unchecked for an extended period of time, and your pipes will come under a significant amount of stress.
Sooner rather than later, hydrostatic pressure can cause your pipes to leak and burst. Unfortunately, this problem is two-fold. Not only will you have to contend with the seepage related to a leak, but leaking pipes tend to feed the hydrostatic pressure already negatively impacting your home. You’ll need to clear this moisture out of your basement, then repair the cracks or leaks allowing external moisture into your home if you want to eliminate the impact this force can have on your property.
There is always a chance that the team who originally installed pipes in your home may have made mistakes during the construction phase. Sometimes, you can chalk leaking pipes up to poor connections throughout your home or even to the use of inappropriate support materials.
The good news, in a manner of speaking, is that leakage you can trace to construction errors often doesn’t beget additional damage to your home. If you’re able to catch this kind of damage before it grows, then you can invest in a fix before hydrostatic pressure weakens your walls or foundation. However, if you let construction damage sit in your home for an extended period of time, then your home may face some serious consequences. No matter why your pipes are leaking, they contribute to your home’s internal hydrostatic pressure—and that pressure can have just as many negative effects on your home’s stability as the pressure generated by rain and melting snow.
No Internal Protection
Speaking of construction errors, there’s also a chance that your home may not be prepared for an internal leak. For example, your pipes may not be cushioned by the appropriate kinds of insulation, meaning that they’re more prone to temperature-related damage. Alternatively, the team that built your home—or the property’s previous owners—may not have installed any waterproofing measures in your basement.
A lack of internal protections can cause your pipes to fall victim to damage far faster than they might otherwise. Likewise, the lack of these protections will see moisture from your pipes spread to the rest of your home much faster than it would if you had those protections in place. In short, a lack of basement waterproofing can spell trouble for the rest of your property if your pipes start to leak, so it’s in your best interest, moving forward, to make sure your home is as watertight as possible.
Leaking Pipes and the Rest of Your Home
A pipe leak in your basement has severe effects on the whole of your home. For starters, a pipe that can no longer effectively carry water from one place to another is going to lower your water pressure. This means that your showers will be less comfortable, your dishwasher won’t work as effectively, and you may even run short on warm water.
As moisture leaks into the air in your basement, you can start to see signs of damage develop. No matter what force caused your pipes to leak, a damaged pipe will always contribute to the hydrostatic pressure that your home and basement have to contend with. In short, the longer you allow a damaged pipe to go unfixed, the more likely it is that you’ll see water damage in your basement.
Signs of a Leak in Your Basement
Detecting a leak in your basement pipes isn’t always easy, especially if your leak is just developing. If you want to get ahead of a basement leak, you’ll need to look for signs that are a little less subtle than full-on puddles of water. As you’re looking for these signs, remember: Leaking pipes impact the overall structural integrity of your basement. As such, you’re likely to see damage related to your leaking pipes throughout your basement. Some of the most common symptoms of an internal moisture problem inside of your home include but are not limited to:
- Sticking doors and windows
- Cracks along your walls or near your joints
- Higher electrical bills
- Higher water bills
- Unusually high levels of humidity throughout your home
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to tell the difference between symptoms indicating pipe failure and symptoms indicating other basement-related problems. That’s where the professionals serving your area come into play. Raleigh and Winston-Salem, NC, professionals can distinguish between pipe damage and something more severe, like foundation sinkage of basement wall failure. You can reach out to area professionals whenever you think something may have gone awry with your home. The sooner you’re able to get professionals to inspect your basement, the sooner you’ll be able to eliminate the damage you’re dealing with.
Clearing Up a Leak: Professionals to the Rescue
Repairing the leaking pipes in your basement isn’t always the most straightforward process. While you’ll want to repair the pipes themselves, you may also need to repair a cracked wall or part of your sinking floor. The solutions that area professionals put forward to you are going to vary based on the problems that you’re facing. Some of the most common repair solutions to use when you’re dealing with internal plumbing leaks include:
- Pipe sealing or replacement – Sometimes, if professionals manage to catch your pipe damage before it can grow too severe, they can seal away the cracks that have developed throughout your home. However, if the leak has evolved to the point where you’re dealing with standing water on a consistent basis, plumbers may need to replace the pipes in your basement.
- Crack sealing – Even if the primary damage in your home can be traced to your pipes, you’ll need to work with area professionals to make sure the rest of your basement is structurally sound. This can mean sealing off any cracks that have appeared near your joints, door frames, or window frames.
- Floor joist support or replacement – If the floors in the upper levels of your home have started to sag or seep water, you’re going to need to invest in intensive repairs. Work with area professionals to remove your rotting joists and replace them with protected alternatives. You can even request that area professionals install specialized support jacks beneath problematic floors and floor joists to ensure long-term support.
- Piers beneath your home – If the damage you’re contending with has sunk from your pipes down into your foundation, then you may need to invest in piers. Foundation piers take the weight of your basement off of your foundation while also fixing uneven floors.
- Wall anchor systems – If you’re dealing with bowing walls, you can ask area professionals to install wall anchor systems to potentially force your walls back into their original positions while also ensuring that they won’t slip out of place again.
Any homeowner concerned about the cost of repairing their basement may be tempted to try their hand at DIY work. In theory, this seems like a good idea. In practice, it rarely works out in the homeowner’s favor. DIY basement repair can not only make the problems you’re dealing with in your basement worse, but it can also be more costly than working with area professionals.
Covering Up the Real Damage
If you don’t have any experience repairing damaged pipes or the damage caused by these pipes, then it’s easier to make mistakes during the repair process than it is to address your real problem. For example, you may go to replace a damaged pipe and fail to notice that your damage extends into the pipes beyond your basement walls. You may be able to replace your pipes, but moisture will still make its way through the rest of your home.
If you let this kind of damage sit for an extended period of time, then it’s only going to grow worse. This is even the case if you manage to fix one leak in your pipe but fail to address another. Eventually, should you have to call in area professionals, those contractors will have to spend more time repairing your home and removing the DIY repairs you installed. This could result in more costly repairs, meaning that your net losses are going to be far more than you initially imagined.
DIY Budgeting Gone Awry
Speaking of net gains and losses, most homeowners want to repair their pipes on their own because they want to save money. This is rarely the case. Homeowners without any experience repairing the pipes in their home can spend a significant amount of money not only on the materials they need but any single-use tools that they may not have on hand. Purchasing these kinds of tools when you’ll never use them again effectively makes them a net loss—they’ll only collect dust once you’re done with them.
Professionals, comparatively, already have access to the tools they need to repair your damaged pipes, not to mention any other kinds of damage your basement has taken on. They also have industry peers on call that they can connect with to purchase any materials needed to repair your pipes. It’s much easier to stay within your repair budget if you let the professionals in Raleigh and Winston-Salem, NC, bring the tools and materials your home needs with them.
If the damage your basement has taken on doesn’t seem immediately severe, is it something you need to address right away? In most cases, yes. Basement damage does not disappear over time. Instead, the longer you allow it to sit, the worse it’s likely to become.
Moisture in Your Basement
Moisture from the leaking pipes in your home tends to be pervasive once it settles in. Any and all unprotected porous materials in your basement will absorb the moisture leaking from your pipes until they’re oversaturated, at which point you may find yourself dealing with significant seepage.
These materials include your drywall and wooden supports. The longer you allow moisture to make itself at home in these materials, the more likely it is that they’ll succumb either to the weight of your home or the stress of hydrostatic pressure. If you act quickly, however, and get professionals out to your property at the first sign of pipe damage, you can prevent this kind of oversaturation from spreading throughout your basement.
Damage Appearing in the Rest of Your Home
Moisture damage originating from the pipes in your basement doesn’t tend to stay put. The longer you let this kind of damage sit, the more likely it is that other forms of it will appear throughout the rest of your home. For example, moisture damage can impact the overall structural integrity of your foundation after it’s finished with your basement. If your foundation starts to sink or crack, you can see your chimney start to lean, your floors start to sink, and doors throughout your home sustain damage to their frames.
Your basement is not a contained space. If you don’t make a point of waterproofing this space or repairing it when it’s been damaged, that damage can spread throughout the rest of your home. The longer you let your damage sit, the worse off the rest of your property is likely to be.
Migratory Basement Damage
Pipe-based basement damage doesn’t always stay in your basement. If you’re not careful, this kind of damage can easily spread through the rest of your home. After all, the bulk of the damage you’ll be contending with will be moisture-based. For starters, this moisture can seep into your basement’s structural supports and weaken them, even going so far as to damage your foundation. A damaged foundation can weaken other key features around your home, all the way up to your chimney.
On a simpler level, moisture damage in your home can easily migrate up into the first and second floors of your home. If, for example, you don’t attend to this kind of damage in a timely manner, you can start to see your floor joists suffer from damage. As a result, the floors in the upper levels of your home can start to sink, making those floors unsafe to walk on.
Basement Damage and the Value of Your Home
Pipe-based moisture damage that’s less immediately visible than a damaged floor may not seem as though it has a significant impact on the value of your home. This, however, is not the case. You have the option to sell a home that’s suffered from pipe damage in your basement, but that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily make a profit during your sale.
No, homeowners who try to sell a home with damaged pipes in their basement can expect to lose up to 30 percent of their home’s value in the sale. After all, potential buyers may request compensation for the repairs they’ll have to invest in after you move out. If you’re not sure whether or not to invest in home repairs before listing your home on the market, do the math. If the cost of repairing your damaged pipes doesn’t outweigh the money you may lose in your eventual sale, that’s all the more reason to reach out to the professional contractors in your area.
Getting Ahead of Future Damage
Once you’ve had your pipes and other damage repaired, it’s time to start thinking about the future. After all, you’ll want to do what you can to protect your pipes and the rest of your basement from comparable damage later down the line. One of the best ways to go about this is to invest in home waterproofing measures. There are a few different home waterproofing measures available to you, all of which are designed to either create barriers between moisture and your home or to drive seepage away from your property. Some of the most effective basement waterproofing measures include:
- Interior Drainage System – Interior drains are key to helping keep unwanted water and moisture away from the whole of your basement. These drains are placed in your basement’s sub-floor and will intercept any water that leaks inside the walls or even trickles down the walls from leaking pipes. Any water this system collects is automatically drained to a sump pump system.
- Sump pumps – If the pipes in your basement start to leak in earnest, then a sump pump may be your best friend. Sump pumps rely on electricity to remove unwanted water from your basement. While these pumps cannot cover all of your basement, they can control seepage in a concentrated part of your home. As mentioned above, they work best when paired with an interior drainage system.
- Dehumidification – Typical dehumidifiers will not protect your basement in the long term. Professionals, however, can install them in your basement if you’ve had to contend with leaking pipes in the past. Dehumidifiers (especially non-commercial dehumidifiers) draw moisture out of the air while also keeping your basement healthy. You can pair a dehumidifier with additional home waterproofing measures to better protect your home from pipe leaks in the future.
Schedule Repairs to Safeguard Your Home ASAP
Repairing damage caused by leaking pipes in your home doesn’t have to be a trial. Don’t let your fears keep you from restoring your property. Instead, get in touch with the professional contractors in your area. You can schedule a free home inspection with the expert team at Tar Heel Basement Systems to determine what, specifically, has gone wrong in your basement. Once you’re finished, you can look over your provided free services quote to determine what kind of repairs and protection your basement may benefit from.