The last thing you want to deal with as the weather starts to turn is a flooded basement. Matters only grow more complicated, however, when you can trace that flooding to a leaking hatchway. The good news is that it’s simpler than it may seem to patch up a leaking hatchway as long as you have help. It’s all a matter of determining where to get started.
Where Is the Flooding Coming From?
Before you can start exploring your repair options, you’ll want to try and determine where the water in your basement is coming from. When you think you may have a hatchway leak on your hands, it’s more likely than not that your water is coming from one of the following spots:
- Beneath the door. If your door frame has started to shift or otherwise warp due to the level of humidity in your home, floodwaters could begin seeping in through gaps between that frame and your door.
- At the foundation joint. Long-term exposure to water can cause your foundation to start to pull away from the walls of your home. If you have visible gaps of this nature in your basement, you are at high risk for a considerable amount of seepage, come rain or shine.
- Through concrete cracks. Your concrete, unfortunately, can develop cracks due to the influence of several different outside forces. While not all cracks are leaks, all leaks begin their lives as cracks.
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Why Is My Hatchway Leaking?
As mentioned, your hatchway can begin to leak for a myriad of reasons. The most common include:
When it comes to a hatchway leak, you can most often blame hydrostatic pressure for your woes. Hydrostatic pressure is a force that works against your home when rain, snow, and groundwater come into contact with your basement’s structural supports. This moisture presses up against those materials and causes them to change temperature and size. Stress fractures, in turn, can start to appear in those materials as they try and compensate for the rapid changes in size that they’ve been forced to endure. Even more moisture can get into your home through those cracks.
If your basement ends up overexposed to this kind of pressure, the structural supports in your walls and even holding up your foundation can start to crack and give out. The longer you let this kind of damage sit, the more likely it is that your basement and foundation will start to sink. You may find yourself contending with uneven floors, significant flooding, and a litany of other problems far sooner than you might think, and all with unwanted moisture to blame.
As the weather starts to grow colder, that hydrostatic pressure can rapidly evolve into structural freezes. As the moisture in your soil starts to freeze, it can expand in size by up to nine percent. That kind of expansion puts a significant amount of pressure on the concrete making up your foundation and basement walls. If your home isn’t ready for that kind of change, you can almost immediately start to see your basement walls and floors develop dangerous cracks.
That kind of freezing can also severely destabilize your foundation. Frozen soil can lift your foundation while causing it to settle. Some parts of your home will find themselves lifted higher than others. You may have, for example, cracks in one half of your basement and sinking walls in another, even without active flooding or other signs of seepage in place.
You aren’t just going to have to deal with hydrostatic pressure from forces outside of your home, however. If you don’t take care of your pipes or otherwise maintain your insulation, there is a risk that your pipes or HVAC system may put your hatchway at risk for damage.
The pipes that deliver water throughout your home are, unfortunately, not waterproofed upon their initial installation. As they end up exposed to humidity, they can begin to loosen at the joints, causing them to leak. Unfortunately, this kind of damage can cause your pipes to break open. Not only will you have to contend with additional moisture in the air, but you may have to fight off full-blown flooding as well. If nothing else, a damaged pipe adds moisture to the air in your home, making it even more difficult for you to control the degree of hydrostatic pressure that your basement has to contend with.
Note that your HVAC system can have a similar impact on your home’s health if it isn’t inspected on a regular basis.
Termites and Other Pests
That said, hydrostatic pressure isn’t the only force that can work against the structural integrity of your hatchway. Animals and insects can negatively impact the structural integrity of your home. Burrowing animals, for example, tend to leave burrows below the foundation of your home. If those burrows aren’t filled or the critters aren’t caught, your foundation can start to sink into the burrows they’ve left behind. In turn, your foundation can heave, and your hatchway may end up uneven on its supports.
Similarly, termites and carpenter ants will happily eat away at the wooden supports you have holding your hatchway in place. Unfortunately, contractors cannot help you get rid of these insects or fill the burrows that may have developed beneath your home. Instead, you’ll have to collaborate with animal control or local exterminators before you’re able to reach out and schedule any necessary basement repairs.
While trees aren’t going to actively make a point of trying to damage your hatchways, they can still have a negative impact on your basement’s overall structural integrity. Like burrowing animals, tree roots disrupt the packed earth that’s beneath your home. In turn, they can leave gaps behind them as they grow. Your foundation can then sink into those gaps, forced down by gravity. Your hatchway can then leap off its joints while the rest of the structural supports in your basement begin to sink.
As is the case with animals and insects, professional basement contractors cannot help you remove trees from your property or otherwise trim away tree roots. Instead, you’ll want to reach out to the landscaping or tree removal professionals in your area to determine what kind of options you have available to you. You will, however, want to act quickly if you suspect that tree roots may be impacting your home’s structural integrity. In a best-case scenario, you’ll want to try and relocate or otherwise remove trees that are planted within 20 feet of your home’s perimeter before they have a chance to destabilize your foundation and, subsequently, your basement’s structural supports.
How Can I Determine Whether or Not My Hatchway Is Leaking?
It isn’t always easy to pick out a hatchway leak. These leaks, after all, can look a lot like any other manner of leak that your basement might suffer. That said, there are some signs that can give away a leaking hatchway, even if they just give away a leak on its own. These signs can include:
- Damp walls
- Bowing walls
- Sagging floors
- Rusting floor and rim joists
- Standing water or ice
- Mold growth
- Warping door frames
- Fogging windows
Unpleasant or musty smells can also indicate some manner of damage in your basement. Of course, you will want to check the spots closest to your hatchway and floor joints to determine whether or not you can readily trace your home’s leak to an appropriate source. A professional team, however, can also come out to your home and follow the aforementioned signs to the source of damage in your home.
Ideally—and even if you haven’t already seen damage in your home—you’ll want to try and schedule annual basement inspections so as to keep a closer eye on any weak points you may have in your basement.
How Can I Stop My Hatchway from Flooding My Basement?
Repairing a damaged hatchway is no easy feat if you don’t have experience backing you up. That said, the professionals working with Innovative Basement Authority can help you determine what your first best steps might look like.
When in doubt, you can always invest in our grated drainage system. This is specifically designed to intercept water at doorways and similar openings and direct it to your sump pump. It resembles half of a piping system with a grate fitted snugly on top. The grate is flush with or slightly below the floor, where it can catch water entering from the outside.
Along with these pipes, it is advisable to have new doors installed flush against the walls and thresholds of your basement, meaning they’ll create a watertight seal within your home and not be overly visible to the aesthetic eye.
Note that the grated drainage system is meant to be part of a larger perimeter drain system. These systems, also known as interior drains, use gravity and grates to prevent water from settling in your home. You may restrict your system’s reach to the few feet surrounding your door, or you may have it reach around the whole of your home.
Flooded Basement Stairs
Your basement and hatchway are far more sensitive to water damage than you might imagine. The longer you let this damage work its way throughout your home, the more likely it is that you’ll put your home’s value and your family’s health at risk.
- Water Damage and Your Home’s Market Value
The moisture that makes its way into your basement doesn’t just impact that space. It can also begin to weaken any structural supports you have located in your basement, not to mention your foundation. The longer you let this kind of damage sit, the more likely it is that it not only ruins your floor joists or other supports, but that it also moves down into your foundation. Humidity that’s especially high can even migrate into the rest of your home, where it can encourage mold growth and wall damage.
While this will all make your home less comfortable to live in, it also actively lowers the value of your property. Homes that have suffered some substantial and unrepaired basement or hatchway damage can lose up to 30% of their market value when put up for sale. Not only that, but you will have to disclose the nature of your home’s damage to potential buyers.
- Water Damage and Your Family’s Health
Your family’s health is also at risk if they end up exposed to extensive amounts of unwanted moisture. Any residents with pre-existing conditions can see those conditions made exponentially worse due to overexposure to moisture. Allergies and respiratory issues, in particular, do not improve as the air quality in your home declines. Even residents who have not shown signs of these conditions can begin to develop them the longer your home is plagued by unwanted moisture.
To make matters worse, unwanted moisture makes your basement more vulnerable to mold growth. Mold growth impacts the health of everyone in your home. Most molds, if allowed to flourish in your home, can cause health problems ranging from a persistent cough to long-term lung damage.
If you’re good with your hands or just want to save a bit of money on home repair, you may consider trying to repair your basement without reaching out for professional guidance. While this is admirable, you can often end up doing more harm than good, for all your ambitions.
- DIY and Your Budget
Whether you’ve turned your basement into an entertainment center, or you prefer to use it for storage, it can be expensive to maintain. It makes sense that you may want to try and cut your maintenance costs where you can. Unfortunately, trying to DIY basement repair and hatchway installation can be more expensive than you initially anticipate. This process requires you not only to purchase unique materials but special tools, as well. You may find that you never use those tools again outside of this one project, making them an exceptionally expensive investment.
Comparatively, professional contractors often already have the repair tools they need on hand. Even if they don’t, many have connections with manufacturers operating within their industry. They can, in turn, secure what materials they need to restore your home without charging you full market price for everything that they need.
- DIY and Accidental Basement Damage
Without previous experience to help you determine how best to repair your basement, there is a significant chance that you may do more harm than good to your basement. For example, if you want to try and repair any damage that’s already been done, there is a chance that you may cover up signs of damage that might give away more significant structural failures. In doing so, you risk destabilizing the whole of your home to save a few dollars.
In a similar vein, failing to properly install any solutions can see your basement start to leak on a more regular basis than it already does. Not only will you have wasted money on materials and tools, but you’ll have to reach out to area professionals to remove your attempted fixes. In the long run, you may end up having to spend more on basement repairs than you would have had you reached out to a professional team in the first place.
How Much Will Repairs Cost?
Determining how much basement repairs such as a grated drainage system may cost is never an easy task. Each home, after all, comes with a unique set of challenges that local contractors have to contend with. If your basement, for example, has taken on any damage in the past, contractors will need to see that damage attended to before installing either a grated drainage system or its accompanied perimeter drainage.
However, you can usually estimate how much home repairs and waterproofing installations may run you based on the size of your home. Homes with more extensive damage or that are larger than most are going to cost more to protect than smaller versions. However, it’s always best to reach out to the professionals serving your area if you want to get a better idea of just how much your hatchway repair and installation may cost you.
Repair Your Flooding Stairs and Hatchway with Help from Professionals
Ready to bring your basement back up to snuff? The Innovative Basement Authority professionals in eastern Montana, Minnesota, and North Dakota can repair any damage done to your basement and help you install a new grated drainage system. Reach out today to schedule a free home inspection and repair quote.