Are Cellars Designed To Flood

It can be surprising to find patches of water or moisture in your basement or cellar that have been dry all along. If you do not know how this happened or what to do, you are at the right place because we have consulted with the experts to help you resolve the issue.

To provide a solution, you first need to find out what caused the problem, which could have been contributed by one or more of the following:

  • A leak inside the basement
  • Poor Grading
  • Defective or missing downspouts or gutters
  • Cracks in the foundation
  • Missing or poorly done sump pit and drain tile
  • Condensation

Continue reading to understand the causes of moisture or water seeping into your cellar, the foundation problems that emanate from it, the solutions to avert this issue, and how to prevent flooding in your basement.

A modern and rustic basement with a large wine cellar, Are Cellars Designed To Flood

Is Water Seepage In A Cellar Normal?

There are several reasons water could be seeping into your cellar or basement as will be discussed below. Let's find out more and how to solve each of them.

A Leak Inside The Basement

A leak from the toilet, sink, shower, or washing machine or even a damaged water pipe could be the culprit to moisture on the walls, ceiling, or floor of your basement.

It is pretty easy to fix. Find out what is causing the leak and repair it yourself, or call a plumber to do the job.

In addition, you will benefit immensely if the pipes in the cellar are inspected regularly to check for blockages or cracks that happen when they freeze during winter. Therefore proper insulation is called required.

Poor Grading

The ground surrounding the foundation of your home should be in form of a slope that drains water away rather than towards it. Therefore, when the ground is poorly graded, the water will flow towards the basement, and finally, find its way inside.

To solve this, build up dirt on all sides of the foundation to form a slope that drains water away from your home. A satisfactory slope should be at least six inches for the initial 10 feet, which translates to a slope of 5%.

Defective Or Missing Downspouts Or Gutters

A flooded basement with vacuum for removing water

If your home does not have downspouts or gutters, or they are defective, rainwater will not be directed away from the foundation. 

Instead, the water will flow towards your foundation, accumulating in the soil, and finally, find its way inside the basement.

This problem is easily solved by installing downspouts at every point between 30 and 40 feet of gutters, not forgetting that extenders should disperse water not less than four feet away. 

Cracks In The Foundation

Cracks in the foundation are a sure way of water seeping into the basement. Thus, if water is not directed away from the foundation, but accumulates around it due to poor soil drainage, then the water will force its way through the cracks and into the basement.

In some cases, water is the actual cause of the cracks if the floor joists are improperly connected to the walls of the foundation. It subsequently leads to the walls moving, creating cracks allowing water to pass through.

To fix this problem will depend on what formed the cracks in the first place. If the cracks are a result of structural issues such as gaps in the connections or footings, sealing will do the trick and close the gaps. Repair the exterior drainage if the cracks have been formed due to poor soil drainage.

Missing Or Poorly Done Sump Pit And Drain Tile

The basements in older homes were not built with the intention of them being habitable, hence drainage systems under the floor were not built. Poorly done sump pits will not collect and drain water away causing water to enter your basement.

A problem of this magnitude can only be fixed by adding a drainage system that consists of drains and pipes that collects excess water in the ground and channel it to a sump pit. The water is then pumped out by a sump pump when it reaches a certain level.

It is a complex task that will require professionals to carry out the job because it involves digging out your basement and adding a new drainage system.


Condensation takes place when warm and humid air comes into contact with the cool walls of your basement and floor. Moisture is created when the warm air is cooled by the floor and walls. 

Dealing with this issue is easy and inexpensive. Check and ensure the exhaust of the dryer is not clogged, otherwise if clogged, remove all debris and dirt to allow free flow of air. 

This can also be solved in the following ways:

  • If there is a kitchen or bathroom in your basement, steam from cooking or hot showers can form a lot of moisture. To avert this, install an exhaust fan and use it each time you cook or take a shower to release air to the outside. 
  • Improve the air circulation if your basement only has a minor case of condensation. This can be done by adding vents and keeping them open to allow free-flowing air. Also, consider installing an AC and running it for a few hours each day. If there is too much clutter, eliminate some of it to allow the air to move around freely. 
  • Insulate the areas in your basement that are prone to condensation to get rid of moisture. To prevent warm air from coming into contact with cool surfaces, insulate places like the pipes, ducts, and walls.

How Do I Stop Water Coming Through The Wall In My Cellar?

This has been extensively discussed above, providing the causes of water passing through the wall in your basement or cellar, and the solutions to these problems.

Primarily, these are waterproofing techniques both in the interior or exterior to either keep water away or to remove the water when it enters the basement.

Can A Flooded Cellar or Basement Cause Foundation Problems?

An extremely flooded laundry basement with laundry materials floating in the water

Any amount of water that finds its way into your basement, whether it seeps through the walls or floods inside, will cause damage to your foundation in the following ways:

Hydrostatic Pressure

When water, for example, from a rainstorm, melted snow, or even broken water lines collect around your house, hydrostatic pressure is exerted against its foundation, forming cracks that run horizontally along the wall causing water leakage into your basement. 

It’s important to note that house foundations are designed to hold their weight, preventing them from exerting pressure downwards, and not bearing the pressure from their sides.

This is not a problem to take lightly or procrastinate repairs as the stability of your home is threatened. If the walls look intact, but there is some water intrusion, then they can be repaired using one of the methods mentioned above. 

But, if the wall is bowing or leaning inwards, then a professional expert will be more suitable to fix this situation because more complex repair methods will be applied.

Expansive Soils

Expansive soils have minerals in them that absorb water, causing an increase in volume. When this happens, the soil pushes against the foundation creating cracks in the floor and walls of a basement. In contrast, when the soil dries out, it shrinks.

This recurrent cycle of expanding and shrinking places undue stress on the foundation of homes. If this is not corrected, it deteriorates with time. 

The solution for this problem is to add calcium to stabilize the soil reducing its potential to expand and shrink.


The soil supporting a foundation can slowly be washed away by rainwater causing a shift, normally known as settling. This erosion does not take place evenly and will first wash away the soil that has the lowest resistance, which is usually around the corners of a foundation.

Other than cracks in the foundation, other signs of unsettling include uneven floors, tilted chimneys, windows and doors not shutting properly, and the sinking of a home. 

This being a very involving job, it's best to call in a professional foundation contractor to assess the situation and fix it. 

How Do I Stop My Cellar From Flooding?

A dark and rustic inspired basement with a cellar and a small fireplace

We shall reiterate as discussed above, that you first need to diagnose what is causing the flooding or water seeping through into your basement or cellar. Afterward, apply one or more of the above solutions depending on the type and enormity of the problem.

Whereas you may find the repairs up to the task, it is best to call in a professional who will check even for the tiniest cause of the problem and give you a viable solution.

In Closing

A modern and rustic basement with a large wine cellar

Water finding its way into your cellar or basement can cause cracks in the foundation threatening the stability of your home. If this issue is averted early enough, the repairs will be less expensive and easier, but if unchecked, it can lead to very expensive repair methods that are very involving.

Always lookout for signs such as wet patches of water on the floor or wall, windows not closing as they should, or in the worst-case scenario, the sinking of your home.

Check out our previous posts and find out if cellars are normally damp, and the foundation types most suitable in areas that flood.

Are Cellars Meant To Be Damp Plus Moisture Detection Elimination Methods?

Can You Have Basement In Flood Zone?

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