A basement that tends to constantly flood can be a nightmare to deal with. First, you'll need to figure out what is causing the flooding so you can find an appropriate remedy. In some cases, all it takes is a look to a neighbor's property. Changes your neighbor makes to his or her property can affect the groundwater of your property, which can lead to a flooded basement. Here's what you need to know.

5 Common Reasons  

Water flows to where it finds the least resistance. When changes are made to a neighboring property, water could find another path to flow. Unfortunately, sometimes that path of least resistance leads straight to your basement. Here are 5 common reasons your neighbor could be causing your basement to flood.

  1. Property grade changed. This can change the natural storm drainage system on your property.
  2. New driveway installed. A driveway can divert rainwater to concentrate on a small area, which increases the amount of groundwater in that area.
  3. House or garage constructed. A new structure can displace water in the same way a new driveway can.
  4. In-ground pool excavated. A large excavation project can divert water, but it can also displace an underground stream.
  5. Septic tank overflowed. If this happens, it can cause your basement to contain black water, which is highly contaminated with bacteria and fecal matter.

If your basement suddenly floods and you have made no changes to your own property, check out the neighboring yards to see if they made any of these types of changes. If nothing is obvious, look for signs of water leakage, such as from a downspout turned directly towards your property.

3 Important Things to Know

  1. Be careful when removing deep flood water from your basement. If the ground on the outside of the foundation is saturated with water, it is putting hydrostatic pressure on your foundation walls. Removing deep flood water too quickly from your basement while the hydrostatic pressure is there may cause your foundation walls to collapse inwards or buckle. As you can imagine, this can drain your bank account and credit line.
  2. You'll need to find out if your property is in a flood zone or if there is a storm drain easement on your plat or survey. Information on both of these possibilities can be found at your local county courthouse in the tax assessment office and/or in the office where land records are kept, such as deeds and mortgages. Contact your storm water management office to conduct a survey to determine if any changes have been made that compromises the legal description of the plats or surveys for you and your neighbor. If the study shows that your neighbor caused any changes that led to the flooding in your basement, you may be able to file a lawsuit.
  3. To prevent flooding in your basement in the future, you may want to install a French drain system. This type of system consists of a deep trench surrounding the perimeter of your home. Ground water is directed into the French drain system through a deep layer of gravel. From this system, the water can be directed to the soil underneath the trench, into a storm drain, or into a dry well. However, in order for the water to be directed to the soil, a percolation test will be needed. This is a test that tells how quickly the soil can absorb water. If the soil doesn't pass the percolation test, sometimes called perc test, then you'll need to choose another option for where to dispel the water out of the French drain system.

If the storm water management office determines that your neighbor did cause your basement flooding, you may be able to take legal action to help cover the costs of water damage restoration services and the installation of a French drain system.  

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