2017/01/19

Is it a Plumbing Issue or a Waterproofing Issue?

Is it a Plumbing Issue or a Waterproofing Issue

We often get called in when a homeowner notices water in their basement.  If there has been a lot of rain and thaw, the issue is likely to be in the home’s foundation. If the weather is dry,  there are questions a competent waterproofer should be asking to determine: Is it a plumbing issue, or a waterproofing issue?

Important Questions Every Competent Waterproofing Consultant Should Ask

How long has the problem been going on for?

If the weather has been dry for weeks and the homeowner notices water, it’s likely to be a plumbing issue. Foundation leaks are always weather related. If the soil surrounding your home is wet, the water could be due to a foundation crack.  If the soil surrounding your home is dry, the water is likely coming from another source within your home.

How much water are you seeing?

Whether it is an obvious pool of water near a floor drain or a damp corner at the base of your wall, the amount of water will help the Waterproofing Consultant determine how likely the issue is due to a foundation leak or a plumbing issue.

Is the appearance of water in the basement related to use of fixtures in your home like showers or running a dishwasher?

Pay close attention to which appliances you were using at the time of the leak and note any irregularities in water volume.  If your dishwasher is leaking into your kitchen wall, that water is likely to end up in the basement.

Have you ever had a sewer back up?

If this has happened to you before, please accept our condolences. It’s an awful experience.  The reason why we ask this question is because sometimes the cause of the original backup (i.e. tree roots or faulty pipes) may re-occur and cause blockage in the water pipes.

Every house and neighbourhood is different in how the plumbing lines (sanitary and storm lines) are configured.  There are homes with dedicated lines for each and some with combined systems.

Best to have a plumber run a scope through your water lines to determine whether or not there is a blockage that is causing the water to flow incorrectly.

Has there ever been any waterproofing or work on the weeping tiles performed in the past?

Troubleshooting the exact cause of how water has gotten into your basement is not an exact science.  There are many variables that come into play. Informing your plumber and/or waterproofing contractor on as much information as to the history of work that has been performed in your house is very important.

On a recent call ……

One of RCC’s top consultants was called into a provide a Free Estimate to a home that covered many of the above scenarios.

Upon entering the basement the estimator noticed that there were litres of water pouring down to a lower area of the basement.  The homeowner mentioned that this had only started after the recent rain and snow melt.  He indicated that it wasn’t the first time and when questioned he stated that he had plumbing issues in the past.

The floor drain had water in it up to the basement floor level and the toilet, which was located just back from the floor drain had water in it almost to the top of the bowl.  The toilet’s water supply had just been shut off 10 minutes before.

Our estimator had a look at the exterior foundation and noticed that it had appeared to have already been waterproofed.  Based on the age of the home (90 years) it was likely that the previous waterproofing contractor had installed weeping tile, which was hooked into an old rainwater pipe from the eaves (an old storm line).  In this particular neighbourhood, the storm lines often hooked into the sanitary lines via the floor drain.

The sanitary line was blocked downstream of the floor drain and toilet. The weeping tile was bringing the water into this combined system.

In this unique situation, there was so much precipitation and snow melt entering a blocked line under the basement floor that the water had nowhere to go, which resulted in extreme amounts of water being forced out of the pipes and rising up from beneath the floor.

In this scenario, it was clean water (outside rainwater) that was backing up dirty (sanitary pipes) and entering the basement.  Therefore, it was strongly recommended that the homeowner consult with a plumber first to clear his blocked lines.

Finding water in your basement is often a sign of a much more serious issue.  Be sure to call upon a trained waterproofing or plumbing professional to assess the situation.  Make detailed notes and take pictures of where the water is collecting and how much is present. Pay close attention to when the leak takes place and if it may be related to the weather or the use of a specific appliance.

5 Reasons Why Water Damage Must Be Dealt With Right Away!


RCC Waterproofing and Foundation Repairs has been servicing Ontario customers for 96 years. Their repairs have outlived lifetime warranties by at least two times. The company provides professionally trained sales representatives to view, assess and quote on repairs. The installers are employees of RCC and most have long term working relationships. RCC carries full insurance including WSIB coverage and HST registration.

RCC Waterproofing offers:
  • A Lifetime Waterproofing Guarantee!
  • 24-hour emergency services for Ontario residences
  • Fully trained technical sales representatives to view, assess and quote the repair
  • 96 years of third-generation family success both in products and services and superb warranty
  • Full-service options, providing either exterior or interior repairs depending on issues, location, and structure
  • A successful record of servicing over 75,000 customers

To learn more, contact RCC Waterproofing at 416-747-1920 or Toll-Free 1-888-766-2071 or Contact RCC for a Free Inspection