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  • Omega Construction of MI

Why Michigan Basements Are Prone to Water Issues

 standard 1960s home, red brick and white slats, stands in a quant neighborhood, green grass and clean sidewalks

Michigan is a wonderful and beautiful state, but its proximity to the Great Leakes means that there’s going to be a significant amount of rain and water heading your way. If you’re a homeowner in Michigan, you’ve likely encountered water issues plaguing your basement, but why is it this way? Why are Michigan basements more prone to water issues? Unfortunately, there’s not a single culprit, but when you understand all the variables at play, you can give your home the care it needs to make these water issues disappear.

High-Water Table

A primary culprit for basement water problems in Michigan is the high-water table. This term refers to the level at which the ground beneath the earth’s surface becomes saturated with water. Essentially, it’s the point at which you begin to find water if you dig down into the ground. This crucial level can fluctuate significantly based on seasonal changes, and in Michigan, the situation is worse because of the state’s clay soil.

Clay soil is less permeable than sandy soil, which means it doesn’t allow water to pass through easily. This leads to an elevation in the groundwater level, increasing the risk of basement flooding. The combination of a high-water table and clay soil makes keeping your basement dry nearly impossible.

Heavy Precipitation

Michigan is also a state that regularly sees heavy precipitation, boasting an average annual rainfall that exceeds 30 inches. The rain is good for the natural landscape, but it’s bad for your home’s infrastructure. Different drainage systems struggle with this massive amount of water, leading to overflows that can infiltrate basements, including yours. This basement flooding causes inconvenience to homeowners, and it can also lead to significant property damage in the form of structural damage, mold, and mildew growth.


In addition to receiving copious amounts of rainfall, the state of Michigan also sees a significant amount of snowfall during the winter months. This heavy snow accumulation is a hallmark of the season and a precursor to further challenges. As winter gives way to warmer temperatures, the accumulated snow begins to melt, and that melting snow saturates the ground and increases the risk of basement leaks and floods. This cycle of freezing and thawing is a key factor contributing to water-related issues in residential and commercial properties throughout Michigan.

Aging Infrastructure

Another reason that many Michigan homes are more susceptible to basement water issues is that they’re typically older homes with poor drainage systems and foundational materials. While they may have been state-of-the-art homes when they first went on the market, in the nearly 100 years since, they’re now outdated. As they continue aging, water damage becomes more common, highlighting how important regular maintenance, renovations, and repairs can be for protecting your Michigan home and basement.

Poor Grading

Proper grading will divert water away from your home’s foundation, which means poor grading can lead to water infiltration and damage. Still, even with good grading, Michigan’s clay-rich soil will still hold onto the water and put your home in harm’s way. You must pay close attention to your home’s grading and soil so that you can safeguard it from potential water damage, especially during heavy rainfall and snowmelt seasons.

person points at crack in a home where the ceiling meets the wall, a long and dangerous crack signifying major damage

Cracks in Foundation Walls

Over the years, the foundation walls of residential buildings can begin to show signs of wear, developing cracks as a result of the natural shifting of the soil beneath them or due to various structural stresses. These cracks, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, can become major conduits for water ingress. This allows moisture to seep into the basement, significantly worsening any existing moisture problems and potentially leading to more serious structural integrity and mold issues over time.

Basement Window Wells

Another cause of Michigan basement water issues is water wells. These wells bring in light, enhance the livability of the basement space, and act as water reservoirs. Unfortunately, water can accumulate here, and that collected water can potentially compromise the well’s structural integrity and lead to water damage issues.

 gutter on a home is full of leaves and debris, leading to rainwater falling over the sides instead of down the downspout

Clogged Gutters

Gutters play an essential role in protecting a home’s structural integrity by efficiently channeling rainwater away from the foundation. In regions like Michigan, this system faces unique challenges in the form of dense vegetation. The fall season especially brings things to clog gutters quickly, items like:

  • Leaves

  • Twigs

  • Dirt

These clogs make the gutters unable to do their job, leading to water overflow and accumulation around the base of the house. This unwanted water pooling near the foundation increases the risk of water seeping into the basement, potentially causing severe water damage and mold issues that are costly fixes.

Inadequate Downspouts

Along with gutters, poor downspouts pose a risk as they can lead to water pooling too close to your home’s foundation. Poor water disposal means water damage issues are more likely to happen, potentially leading to costly repairs and structural issues over time. Thankfully, as long as your downspout extends far enough away from your home’s foundation and is at the proper angle, you can prevent this water accumulation from damaging your basement.

Cracked or Damaged Pipes

Pipes are an integral part of any home, but as they age, they develop small cracks that can become gateways for water to infiltrate your home, particularly the basement. This unwanted water intrusion exacerbates existing moisture issues while also leading to more severe problems, such as:

  • Mold growth

  • Structural damage

  • Worse air quality

These are dangerous problems that you need to fix the second you notice them, but you can prevent them entirely by paying close attention to your pipes. When you spot and address cracked or damaged pipes early, you can save yourself and your Michigan basement from a world of headaches and repairs.

Poorly Sealed Basement Windows and Doors

If you want to stop water issues in your Michigan basement, you need to properly seal basement windows and doors. These fixtures play a crucial role in keeping moisture out, and poor sealing can be an easy entry point. This water infiltration can lead to a host of problems that can permeate the entire house. If you want your home to stay dry, proper window and door sealing is a must.

Numerous factors contribute to the prevalence of water issues in Michigan basements, but there are proactive steps you can take to protect your home from any and all kinds of water damage. A big thing you’ll need to do is fix any issues you have in your home sooner rather than later. Thankfully, Omega Construction of Michigan is here to help with all Ann Arbor, MI, foundation repairs. With our expertise on your side, safeguarding your home and basement against water problems can be easy.

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