Do you ever wonder what it means when you have been told that your home is in an area with a high or low water table? A quick check into the reference books or on-line will tell you what you need to know about water tables and how it can affect your home. In Toronto, there are varying areas of high and low water tables, a variety of underground streams, and an aging sewer system. All of these factors can have an impact on your home.
So, what is a water table? The soil around us primarily gets moisture from two natural sources: precipitation and underground sources such as streams or rivers. Both cause the soil to have differing levels of moisture depending on the composition of the soil and rock. At the point where the ground becomes saturated, the moisture levels out much like it would in a basin, creating a measurable smooth table. Why doesn’t it soak in and down? Well, it does but only to the point where it meets rock or some other impermeable surface. In times of heavy rain or spring melt off, the water table can rise even if only temporarily. Sometimes construction or other disruption in the ground in one place can cause the water table in another area to change because the water’s path has been changed.
The level of the saturation point is, of course, important to consider when buying or building a home. You need to be aware of the possibility of your basement’s foundation being affected by flooding, extreme weather conditions or other artificial factors that can cause the ground water table to change. Even dry conditions when building cannot be seen as a safeguard against your basement having a future problem should the water table rise for some reason. Keep in mind, in our cold winters any excess water that has gathered underground or at the base of your home is going to freeze. This can cause the soil to shift and damage your foundation’s footings.
Make sure your contractor is aware of the level of the water table where you are having your home built. Is your new home on high ground or in a vale? Are there streams nearby? The municipal planning department should be able to identify the area as having a high or low water table and you can tour around the neighbourhood to see whether there are any features that might affect your new home’s basement. Remember, if the land around your home is clay, shale, or hard rock and the builder is going to excavate that ground, you can still have problems later if there is space for water to gather at the base of your foundation.
An existing home’s foundation will have a history. You can look for signs that water has been able to seep into the basement. Check for cracks, stains, damage to the walls or floors, and rely on your nose to take in whether there is a musty or dank smell when you go down the stairs. There doesn’t have to be standing water in puddles to know that a basement has been prone to having moisture where it shouldn’t be. Hidden dampness can be a health issue as well as it provides the conditions for the growth of mildew or mould – a serious health problem for your family.
Avoiding Future Problems
Make sure you know the geographic composition of the land on which your new or the existing home is built. If it is lower than other homes in the area, make sure you know where the water is likely to drain when there is a storm or heavy precipitation. Water always finds the easiest route down. Check with the municipality to see if there has been a history of flooding in the area.
Make sure you have proper water drainage away from your home. Install covered eaves troughs to make sure gutters stay clear, check the window wells and make sure landscaping isn’t going to cause your foundation to crack.
Make sure you waterproof your basement. Call in the professionals at City Wide Group to inspect your basement and to recommend a waterproofing project that will protect your home, its contents, and, most importantly, your family. They will outline the best way to waterproof your new home or the home you have just bought. Making sure you have a dry basement now and in the future is their goal and you will receive a fully transferable life-time warranty when your project is complete.