Monday, October 1, 2012

Water problems in your basement? Why the backfill around your home could be the problem.

 A lot of people think that when they have a water problem in their basement that the waterproofing must have failed. That’s not always the case, if you are living in a home that was built in the last 20 years you may have a problem with the backfill that was used.

The one I would like to talk about in this blog is the type of backfill that was used around the home.

If your home was backfilled with the wrong material then it could easily explain the reason that you have water in your basement. In Ontario there are certain types of material that are approved by the building code to backfill around your home. The backfill is supposed to be inspected by the building inspectors when the home is being built but that isn’t always possible. Here are some of the materials that you can use to backfill a home that are expectable;

Granular A or B
Pit run
Clean fill or soil that is not full of organics or clay.

The reasons that these are approved to backfill around houses are because they are porous. What you want to backfill a house with is a material that will allow water to penetrate all the way to the footings of the home.
At the footings there should either be a tile drain or a big “0” that will allow the water to flow to the sump pail to be pumped away from the building or out a gravity drain away from the home.

Some of materials that people use to backfill houses that do not allow water to penetrate are as follows;

Clay. This material does not allow moisture to penetrate it and will actually absorb it becoming heavier. When clay becomes heavier it puts pressure on the foundation walls, this could lead to a brake in the foundation wall over time.

Large stones. Large stones can damage the waterproofing, the foundation wall and the weeping system. They also can allow water to penetrate through the waterproofing if they are leaning directly on it for an extended amount of time.

Organics. The problem with organics is that they can grow plant life that can interfere with the weeper system. They can also push on the waterproofing until a leak starts.

If you live in a subdivision or track built home the backfill that was used could be filled with construction debris. The last couple of homes that are built in a subdivision get all the garbage buried in and around the building. This can damage the building and the waterproofing.

When you call in an expect to ask them about the water problem in the basement ask them about the backfill around your home, this might be your problem and not your waterproofing. If you hire someone to fix the waterproofing and they use the same bad material to backfill the home then you will be back in the same problem in a couple of years.

New homes have to be inspected by the local building inspector before they are backfilled, at this time most building inspectors will inquire about the fill being used to backfill the home. When the inspector does their next inspection after the house has been backfilled they will look around and see if the backfill is legal. They can make you remove it all if they believe that you haven’t used the proper fill.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.


  1. Water problem in the basement really causes damaging results like mold growth. You should use a moisture meter to detect the level of moisture.

  2. how can i do waterproofing in the foundation of building with concrete repairing

    1. This post will explain to you how you waterproof an older foundation that you needed to repair.