Basement Waterproofing prevents moisture intrusion in a basement, protecting furniture and keeping the basement safe for homeowners. This guide will explain the 3 most common methods for waterproofing a basement.
Water can seep into a basement from cracks, or through the foundation walls if soil isn’t graded to slope away from the home. It can also leak in through window wells and through egress doors.
A damp basement can make your home less comfortable, lead to rot, and create an environment for mold to grow. It can also damage your valuable belongings and lower the value of your home. Waterproofing your basement helps protect against these problems and can save you money on costly repairs in the future.
Exterior waterproofing involves excavating the soil around the foundation and then applying a waterproof sealant made from a polymer base. It’s a labor-intensive job that requires specialized equipment. However, the results should last a lifetime.
Other preventative methods include grading your yard so that the soil slopes away from your house, digging out window wells to avoid moisture infiltration and flooding, and installing French drains near the footings of the foundation. These drains divert water to the outside rather than towards your foundation. They can also reduce the chance of basement leaks caused by hydrostatic pressure and capillary action. Interior waterproofing includes installing an interior drainage system and sealing cracks. Another method is a vapor barrier, which involves plastic or foil sheets installed along the basement walls to seal out moisture and humidity.
Unlike exterior waterproofing, interior systems prevent water and moisture from seeping through basement walls, windows or floor/wall joints. They can be very effective when combined with other preventative measures such as grading the soil and adding a dehumidifier.
Before applying interior sealers, the basement must be clean and dry – paint and efflorescence should be removed, which can be done with a blaster by a professional or muriatic acid (read about DIY drywall etching). If there are cracks in the concrete foundation, these can be filled with hydraulic cement that forms a permanent, watertight seal.
Depending on the severity of the problem, it may be possible to install an internal footer tile system. This involves excavating a trench around the home, jackhammering and installing drain tiles along with a vapor barrier inside the basement. This works much like an exterior french drain, but is a far more cost-effective solution to a basement leak. It also helps avoid the pitfalls of an exterior system such as clogged drain tiles or damage to landscaping, driveways and porches.
Crawl Space Waterproofing
Crawl spaces are a source of moisture that can be prevented with waterproofing. Moisture in crawl spaces can lead to mold growth, wood rot and pest problems. If these issues aren’t dealt with, they can spread throughout the home and be a health concern for some people.
Keeping moisture out of crawl spaces helps to prevent issues with mold and rot and keeps radon, mildew and pests at bay. One of the best ways to do this is through crawl space encapsulation, which creates an envelope around the crawl space and seals all vents and openings that lead outside.
Other waterproofing measures for crawl spaces include drainage matting, full perimeter french drain systems and sump pumps. These systems are better than discharge systems that gravity feed from outside the crawl space, which can be damaged by landscaping projects and lawnmowers over time. Lastly, a dehumidifier will help to control humidity, which is also critical for preventing mold and rot.
In addition to waterproofing, basements may require a number of other repairs to prevent moisture from infiltrating. Often these include addressing plumbing issues such as leaks and drain clogs that can cause water damage to basement walls and floors. Regular inspections and prompt repairs of plumbing systems can prevent water infiltration.
Basements may also need a dehumidifier to reduce moisture levels that can lead to mildew growth and structural problems. Lastly, window wells can be encased in covers to prevent soil collapse and direct water away from basement windows.
Interior sealants are a great solution to stop moisture and leaking from entering basement walls and floors, but they won’t work on their own if there is hydrostatic pressure pushing against the foundation. For that reason many basement contractors recommend combining this method with crack sealants to ensure complete moisture protection. Also a new interior footer tile is installed to redirect water away from the home’s foundation.