Is my basement leaking?
May 1, 2019 5:29 PM   Subscribe

We have a couple of small patches of bubbling/blistering paint in our basement that look like water damage - are we doomed?

We are first time basement owners. Our house is newer construction, with a poured concrete foundation. The house is about 15 years old. It has a sump pump in working order.

In a couple of places on the basement walls, I have noticed bubbling/blistering paint. I would say the patches are about 5-6 inches square. Here is a picture of one of the affected areas. The two affected areas are on different walls/in different rooms. The walls are not damp to the touch and there is no dripping/pooling/visible water anywhere.

What is this and how bad is it? We are dreading some kind of huge basement waterproofing project/flooding/etc.
posted by Mid to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Take a pin and try to prick one of the ‘bubbles’. If it’s hard and unprickable then this is most likely not damage due to water intrusion.

Lack of dampness also indicates lack of a major water problem to me, ymmv.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:34 PM on May 1

To me, that looks like efflorescence from the concrete. Water in concrete or masonry can cause mineral salts to come to the surface; they look like white crystals. I think you have water in the ground causing the salts to leach out behind the paint. Compare.

Solution would still be waterproofing, I guess, to changing the grade outside. We have some small leaks in our basement and we’ve had good success controlling them just by building up a bit of a grade by the foundation.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:55 PM on May 1 [3 favorites]

That was supposed to be waterproofing OR changing the grade. Or both!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:18 PM on May 1

Looks like efflorescence to me also. The sealant on the outside of the foundation is weak/failed in that spot so the soil moisture is slowly wicking in. As long as there’s good grade/drainage away from the house so there’s no ponding, you won’t get actual drip leaks inside. You can scrape it off and repaint but it will come back eventually.

Monitor it, but don’t panic.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:53 AM on May 2

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