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Cove Joint

The cove joint is located at the spot where the foundation walls meet the floor. Unfortunately, water can seep upward through this joint.

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Water on the basement floor is never good news, and it can be a sign of a wide variety of problems. Paying attention to which part of the basement is wet can tell you where the water is coming from. If every time there are several rainy days in a row you notice that a corner of your basement floors becomes wet, you might be experiencing seepage from cove joints. If you have never come across this term before, it refers to the area where your basement floor meets your basement walls. The cove joint can often be a weak spot and a frequent source of problems. 

When it rains, the rainwater saturates the soil around your foundation and raises the levels of water in the ground. Due to these changes, hydrostatic pressure increases, and water enters your basement. It looks for the path of least resistance and cove joints are often it. Let’s take a closer look at this joint and ways you can solve the problem with cove joint seepage. 

leaking cove joint

What Is a Cove Joint? 

As mentioned, the cove joint is located at the intersection of the foundation floor and walls. But why does water manage to seep in through it every time it rains? The answer to this question lies in the construction process. When the builders are building a house, first they pour a concrete footer. After it is completely dry, they build the walls on top of it. Freshly poured concrete often does not bond well with dry concrete, so the walls and the floor never become a cohesive piece. This space that is left between these two layers of concrete is called a cove joint. Due to the hydrostatic pressure, water can enter through the cove joint. This is called cove joint seepage. 

Signs of Cove Joint Seepage 

If you are not sure whether you have cove joint leaks in your basement, go down to your basement. Check the area where your basement walls meet the floor. The cove joint looks like a straight line, not a crack. If it is compressed, you shouldn’t experience any problems. However, if you notice that your walls and/or your floor are wet, you have a problem with cove seepage.  

Unfortunately, sometimes the signs of cove seepage are more subtle. Maybe the water doesn’t infiltrate your basement every time it rains, or it enters this area only after really heavy rains. Subtle cove seepage signs can be a problem since you won’t notice that something is wrong until it is too late, and the moisture has already destroyed your possessions and water is pooling on your basement floor. Moisture can also lead to mold growth, which can impact your health and that of your family. So why don’t contractors just seal this joint? 

Fixing Cove Joint Seepage 

Moisture in your basement can lead to all kinds of problems, from mold growth to high utility bills. It can even compromise the stability of your home, so it is important to address cove seepage before things escalate. 

Some waterproofing experts recommend sealing the cove joint. It seems like an obvious solution that should solve this problem for good. However, things are not always black and white. Sealing the gap could be a short-term solution, but it won’t work in the long run. After some time, the sealant will fail you in the following ways: 

  • Sealing the cove joint doesn’t magically make hydrostatic pressure go away. Every time there is a storm and the water saturates the ground, hydrostatic pressure will increase. Eventually, the foundation walls won’t be able to endure the pressure any longer and they will crack, letting water infiltrate your home. 
  • Another scenario is that the sealant won’t be able to stand the pressure anymore and will become completely removed or penetrated by water. As a result, it will become completely useless and water will infiltrate your basement. The worst part of this scenario is that you probably won’t notice the seepage on time. Being convinced that the sealant has solved the problem, you won’t get the situation in the basement under control, and the problems could escalate. 

Due to the constant hydrostatic pressure that increases when it rains or the snow melts, cove joint sealant is not a good solution. So how can you fix this problem?

What’s the Best Way to Solve Your Cove Seepage Problem? 

As we explained, sealing the joint is not a good option. However, several other solutions could help you protect your basement. 

Interior Drainage System 

The best option is to reduce the hydrostatic pressure so the water won’t seep in. One way to do that is to install an interior drainage system. This specially designed perforated pipe is installed just underneath the basement floor and sits atop the footer. It will collect leaking water and direct it to the sump pump, from where it will leave your home. This way, rainwater won’t get a chance to damage your foundation. An interior drainage system won’t get damaged by the elements or roots, and it can be installed without disrupting your landscaping. 

Sump Pump 

Ensuring you have a complete waterproofing system by installing a sump pump is another effective deterrent as it pumps the water collected from the interior drainage system out through the discharge line instead of letting it seep through the cove joint. 

Exterior Drains and Soil Regrading 

Just like the interior drains, this system prevents moisture saturation in the soil around the foundation. The only difference is that it is installed outside of the foundation. Regrading your yard to create a slope away from your home can help improve drainage. 

If you are interested in waterproofing your home, contact professionals at AFS. We serve areas in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. To find out which solutions will suit you the most, schedule a free inspection

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