Waterproofing Your Basement

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Wet basements are a serious problem that many homeowners have to deal with before they can finish their basement. Rather you have a basement that “sweats” during the warmer months or it collects water during hard rain storms, it’s crucial to figure out the problem and eliminate it before any construction begins.

Diagnosing Water Problems

The most obvious indication to a water problem is in a musty smelling basement. Another indicator would be any remanence of water on the floor or walls. If you have a hard rain storm or it’s spring and you live in an area where lots of snow will be melting, make sure to go look in your basement at those times to see if any water shows up.

Types of Water Issues

1. Condensation

Condensation is a common problem in wet basements. Basements are usually cool and dry, but when moist warm air from the outside hits it, condensation will occur. Any areas that are uninsulated, such as the walls, the floor, and cold water pipes, are most susceptible to sweat in warm months.

2. Leak

Leaks can occur if your basement is not 100% sealed. This could happen around areas where the walls join the floor in a poured foundation or if the foundation is built on concrete blocks. If there are any cracks in the foundation it could easily allow water to flow into your basement.

3. Runoff

If the land around your house isn’t shaped to allow water to run away from your house then you will likely have areas where water gets into your basement. You may see water bubble through the joint where the wall meets the basement floor.

4. Groundwater Swelling

Another water problem can arise from the soil around your house holding water and not draining. You may have a high water table and if the material that is backfilled around your house has more of a clay base then water is likely to sit.

DIY Wet Basement Solutions

Here are some simple and inexpensive solutions that you can do to minimize the dampness in your basement:

1. Plug the Cracks ($)

PC Concrete Epoxy can handle any minor cracks in the foundation and will help keep water out. Clean the surface around the crack with a wire brush, apply the concrete adhesive along the crack, and push into the crack and smooth to the wall using a trowel or a drywall knife.

2. Seal Walls and Floor ($)

Sealing the walls and floor will reduce moisture from coming through the foundation. This should be done regardless of if you have a water issue! Seal-Krete Waterproofer is very inexpensive and two generous coats of this on your walls and floor will give great piece of mind once you start construction in your basement.

3. Pipe Insulation ($)

Cold water pipes are the most susceptible to sweating in the warm months of the year. The 3/4″ pipe insulation is really easy to install, all you have to do is fit it around the pipe, remove the adhesive strip and secure it together. Doing this will eliminate condensation in the water pipes beneath the floor joists. And in case you are wondering, I insulated both the cold water and hot water pipes, just to be safe.

4. Gutter Extensions ($)

If the gutters are cleaned out and functioning properly around your house, make sure that you have extensions that allow water to run far enough away from your house so it doesn’t pool near the foundation. A gutter extension fitting can cost as little as $10 and can make a huge difference.

5. Insulating Basement Walls ($$)

In the case where you don’t have insulation along the walls of your basement, adding 2″ Rigid Insulation will keep your basement temperatures moderate year round and will reduce moisture from getting in. Cut and fit the insulation to the wall size and secure it to the concrete wall with foamboard adhesive.

Professional Wet Basement Solutions

These solutions are more costly but might be necessary:

6. Install a Sump Pump ($$$)

A sump pump typically sits beneath the concrete floor and catches water and discharges it outdoors away from the house. This involves jackhammering into your concrete floor to install a sump pit, patching up the concrete around it, installing a sump pump system with pipes that go through your basement wall. You can could do this yourself but I would consider professional help.

7. Reshape Landscape ($$$)

If you are still getting water into your basement after taking some small measures to reduce it then you should check out your landscape. Go for a walk around your house and see if the shape of your land allows water to drain away from the house. If not, you may need to call an excavation company to help you out with drainage.

8. Install a Curtain Drain ($$$)

A curtain drain is a perforated pipe placed in a trench with stone over it. This will catch the water and drain it to an outlet away from the house. With a lot of hand digging and a delivery of stone you may be able to do this yourself, but I would call a professional on this one.

9. Install or repair a Footing Drain ($$$$)

When your foundation is installed, the soil is compacted to hold the concrete footing, which holds your concrete walls. Because it’s compacted it creates a great spot for water to sit, which is why a perimeter drain is a must. Water bubbling inside the foundation at the joint of the wall and floor would be an indication of this need.

10. Waterproofing your Basement Walls ($$$$$)

Once an excavator has dug up around the perimeter of the foundation you can install a dimple polyethylene membrane, which will catch the water and run it down your basement wall without making contact with the concrete. Another waterproofing option includes spraying liquid rubber against the foundation wall, which secures to the wall and lets water run down the side of it.

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