Causes of Basement & Home Water Damage in Chattanooga


A broken water pipe or cracked window are common causes of water in a basement and are easy to identify. However, some homeowners can have a difficult time finding the source if there’s general dampness or if the water isn’t isolated to one spot. If your Chattanooga basement is musty or wet, the water could be coming from one of the following sources.

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Over time, most homes will settle, which can cause minor or significant foundation cracking. A cracked foundation is not only a structural problem that needs to be addressed, it’s also a common cause of basement water damage. Water can flow through the smallest of cracks in your foundation or basement walls so it’s important to repair these types of damages quickly. If cracks are left untreated, you could be dealing with leaking walls, messy pools of water, or musty smells in your Chattanooga home’s basement, and the potential of full flooding that costs thousands of dollars in damage. 

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Water pressure is one of the strongest forces in nature and can lead to a damp basement after a period of heavy rain. The soil underneath a home’s foundation is usually not compacted to a high degree and can absorb large amounts of water. This absorption can sometimes result in a “bowl effect”, which refers to excess water flowing down near your foundation and creating hydrostatic pressure on the walls. This pressure builds over time and seeps through your porous concrete foundation, where it collects in your basement, which makes it a major cause of home water damage in the Chattanooga area. 

Water sitting on lawn


Ignoring the excess water outside your home is another common cause of damage. Gutters and downspouts that are overflowing or not the right size allow water to collect near your foundation, where it eventually flows into your basement. Water should always be directed away from your home’s foundation, which may require a retaining wall if you have a sloping yard. Just because water is outside your home, it doesn’t mean you can’t take a proactive approach to keep it under control and away from your foundation.

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Although your roof seems far away from your home’s foundation, it can still be the source of water damage in your Chattanooga home’s basement. A few small cracks in your roof might go unnoticed for months, during which water is slowly flowing through and down your walls, into the basement. This situation is especially concerning because of the electrical wiring in your walls.


Take Safety Precautions

Never use electrical devices in your basement if there’s any flooding or pools of water. Electricity and water can put you in danger of electrical shock or electrocution.

Protect Yourself with Proper Gear

Invest in some rubber boots so you can walk through a basement flood a little more safely. This type of footwear can keep you safer if there’s a chance of electrical issues. You should never walk barefoot into a basement that’s flooded, nor should you wear flip-flops or other non-durable shoes. Mold spores are also a concern when you see signs of home water damage in the Chattanooga area, so consider wearing a face mask if you smell any musty odors.

Remove Water Promptly

Any pools of water should be removed immediately to prevent mold and pests. A wet-dry vacuum can be a great tool to remove basement water and a dehumidifier can help with excess dampness. Consider contacting a plumber or another professional if you don’t have access to these devices. Any items that are too damaged should be disposed of, so you’re not attracting mold and pests.


Damp and musty basements in your Chattanooga home or small pools of water might not seem as urgent as complete flooding, but these issues should still be addressed to prevent further damage. Contact American Foundation & Waterproofing to get a free estimate, and learn how we can keep your basement dry and safe.