Many older homes have below grade basements or cellars, which serves as housing for the utility system and occasional storage. Mildew, mold and occasional water seepage often inhabit these older homes. Waterproofing contractors tend to prey on the fear and ignorance of home owners who experience seeping into their basements. This accounts for why so many expensive and inappropriate systems are installed to "cure" the water problems.
It is estimated that more than 90% of the basement water seepage is due to inadequate roof and yard runoff controls. Those waters are a surface source which builds up hydrostatic pressure the deeper into the soil it seeps. When you have a surface water problem, the cure usually has all to do with surface water controls.
It is actually rare when water rises up from beneath a basement to seep into it. Aquifers, which are usually large reservoirs of water down deep in the ground, tend to rise and fall very slowly with rainy weather or droughts. When a dewatering system is installed without mitigating surface water sources, the worst case long term result can be complete foundation failure. The early warning signs for such a horrible event are often foundation cracking, etc.
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When houses have full basements, the occupants can't help but to notice when water seeps into the lower levels. That does not seem to be the case with crawlspaces. In fact, crawlspaces are rarely entered and it is not at all uncommon for owners to remain oblivious when water seeps into them. This is a classic case of what the consequences can be when things are out of sight and out of mind. The floor joist seen below is extensively rotted and the insulation material that was once installed between floor joists has largely fallen down. The wood rot is so extensive that it would require extremely expensive and all-encompassing structural repairs.
The high likelihood is that water seeped into the crawlspace because of inadequate roof and yard runoff controls. The unfortunate reality is that professional home inspectors see things like this on a routine basis. It is very important that a crawlspace be thoroughly inspected prior to purchasing a house, because there is such a high likelihood that a significant problem will exist there. Water is always the primary destructive force and when a water problem exists for a long time, the damage is likely to be extensive. A wet soil condition around and under a house also creates an attractive environment for wood borers. This is one reason why so many professional home inspectors routinely recommend roof and yard runoff controls to potential home buyers.