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Last updated: April 1, 2024 • Home Improvement

Basement Waterproofing: Everything You Need to Know

Basement waterproofing describes the process of creating a barrier to prevent water from seeping into the cellar of a structure or building. For a new homeowner, a wet basement can feel like a nightmare come true. What may seem like a minor drip or puddle initially is often just the tip of the iceberg. It can point toward the existence of a much larger and graver issue. 

A leaky basement is more than an inconvenience. It can result in rotting wood, peeling paint, mold growth, etc. And fixing it? Let’s say it takes time and effort. Yet, fear not! Your home improvement guide is here to help!

Top Four Reasons Why You Should Waterproof Your Basement

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A cellar in tip-top shape can serve many functions. For this reason, waterproofing your basement is vital for safety and health. Below are the top four reasons why you should waterproof your basement.

1. Prevent Mold Growth!

Water in a basement creates the perfect environment for mold to thrive. Mold spores can provoke respiratory problems, allergic reactions, and even structural damage to your home. Waterproofing your basement removes the moisture that allows mold to grow, keeping your family healthy and your home intact.

2. Protect Your Belongings!

Many homeowners use their basements for storage. Did you know a leaky basement can ruin personal items and precious memories? Water damage is costly and time-consuming. Thus, waterproofing becomes a top cost-effective solution to safeguard your belongings.

3. Protect Your Home Integrity!

Changes in moisture levels can cause your home’s foundation to shift and settle over time. As a direct result, cracks will show up that allow water and moisture to seep in. This moisture can cause further cracking and bowing in your foundation walls. No one wants to deal with severe structural damage! Waterproofing your basement protects the integrity of your home’s structure.

4. Improve Indoor Air Quality!

A humid basement can lead to musty odors and poor air quality, which can infiltrate your entire home. Waterproofing eliminates the conditions contributing to poor indoor air, creating a healthier living environment.

Identifying the Main Cause of Basement Moisture

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Once you identify basement moisture, the next step is determining where or what the main problem area is. You can start by zeroing in on one of the reasons below.

1. Interior Water Leaks

One of the primary causes of moisture in basements can be interior water leaks. This issue may appear evident at first sight. Nonetheless, it is crucial to thoroughly inspect your entire property for any leaks before considering external factors. Water leaks can originate from various sources, including showers, sinks, toilets, washing machines, dishwashers, or even faulty pipes. 

Suppose the moisture in your basement is concentrated on the ceiling or walls directly beneath a bathroom or (an outdated) kitchen. In that case, an interior water leak is likely the culprit. Carefully examine the affected area and its surroundings to identify any potential leaks from plumbing fixtures or pipes.

2. Ineffective Grading

Improper grading of the soil surrounding your home’s foundation can lead to rainwater or groundwater seeping into the basement. Ideally, the ground should slope away from the house, facilitating water drainage away from the foundation. 

Suppose the grading directs water toward the house instead of away from it. In that case, water will accumulate against the foundation and eventually find its way inside. This issue often arises when the fill dirt around the foundation is not properly compacted during construction. The slope may change as the dirt settles over time, and water will flow toward the house rather than away.

3. Poor Drainage Systems

Many older homes were built without subsurface drainage systems, as basements were intended to be unsafe spaces at the time. Problems such as clogged pipes, broken connections, or a malfunctioning sump pump can arise even in modern homes with drainage systems. These issues can impede the proper drainage of water away from the foundation, leading to moisture buildup in the basement.

4. Foundation Cracks

If your home’s foundation has cracks, water will inevitably find its way through these openings and into the basement. In some cases, the water itself may cause the cracks. If the floor joists are not correctly connected to the foundation walls, they cannot allow the walls to move, forming cracks. 

Secondly, poor drainage in the soil surrounding the foundation can cause water to accumulate and exert hydrostatic pressure against the weight-bearing walls. No wonder this pressure will force water through the walls and create cracks. Regardless of how the cracks are formed, water can enter the basement through them if they exist. It’s a common fact that water can increase your property’s worth. However, if it’s uncontrolled, it can be your worst nightmare.

5. Condensation

Sometimes, the moisture in your basement may be caused by condensation rather than a leak or drainage issue. Condensation ensues when warm, humid air comes into contact with the cool basement walls and floor. As the warm air cools against the basement surfaces, moisture is created, similar to the condensation on a cold beverage on a hot summer day. 

Suppose the humidity in your basement is due to condensation. Still, you shouldn’t be alarmed because it is often more manageable than leaks or drainage problems. Plus, the solutions are typically more straightforward and less expensive.

Top Four Popular Methods for Waterproofing a Basement

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Suppose you’ve detected the leak and identified the cause. Then, let’s get down to business and work towards a solution. Many homeowners face the big question of how to waterproof a basement properly. Here are the top four methods you can choose from to keep your basement dry and secure.

1. Interior Sealants

Interior Sealants provide a waterproof barrier on the inside of basement walls and floors to prevent moisture seepage through cracks, gaps, or porous concrete. These sealants, typically epoxy or polyurethane-based, are applied to the interior surfaces to block water intrusion. However, interior sealants only address symptoms of moisture entry and do not resolve underlying causes like high groundwater or poor drainage. They are best suited for minor seepage issues.

2. Exterior Basement Waterproofing

One of the most influential and long-lasting solutions is the exterior waterproofing of basement walls. This involves excavating around the foundation’s exterior and utilizing a waterproof coating or membrane to the outside of the walls before backfilling. Common waterproofing materials include rubberized asphalt, sheet membranes, or cementitious coatings.

Exterior waterproofing forms an impenetrable physical barrier against water infiltration from the soil. However, it requires significant excavation work, which makes it a costlier and more disruptive option.

3. Interior Basement Waterproofing

Interior basement waterproofing offers an effective solution for basements suffering from persistent groundwater or hydrostatic pressure. Perforated drain tiles installed along the basement floor collect any water that penetrates the walls. The water is then directed to a sump pit, where a pump discharges it away from the home’s foundation through an exterior line. These systems relieve underground water buildup to prevent seepage through floors and walls.

4. Foundation Crack Injections

Foundation Crack Injections are a method where non-structural cracks in basement walls can be sealed from the inside using polyurethane or epoxy crack injections. The liquid resins are injected into each crack under pressure, expanding and curing, forming a waterproof barrier within the crack itself. While quick and non-invasive, crack injections only address localized water entry points. Major or structural cracks require more comprehensive foundation repairs to resolve underlying issues causing cracking.

Which is the Best Waterproofing Method?

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Deciding on the best method to keep water out of your basement is like choosing the right tool for a job. Sometimes, if there are cracks inside the basement walls, using waterproof sealant to fill them up could be helpful. On other occasions, if the problem is on the outside, we might use a special waterproof coating. 

The best way to waterproof depends on where the water is coming from. A professional home inspection team can assess the situation and decide if you need wall sealant, an outdoor coating, indoor pipes, or crack fillers. They’ll provide the right “umbrella” to dry your basement.

Is the Cost of Waterproofing Your Basement High?

The cost of waterproofing your basement depends on the level of damage. Fixing leakage, too, can cost different amounts depending on your chosen method. Some methods are more expensive than others, but consider it a worthwhile investment. Investing in basement waterproofing in advance can protect your home, your belongings, and your family’s health. Moreover, you’ll save yourself time, money, and stress. Thus, homeowners must make informed decisions about their basement waterproofing project and budget accordingly.

Is Basement Waterproofing a Good Idea for Homeowners?

Owners tend to overlook basements. However, keeping them dry and waterproof is crucial for maintaining your property’s structural integrity and health. Waterproofing your basement is not just a good idea. It’s vital in protecting your home from water intrusion, humidity-related damage, and other potential issues. On the one hand, waterproofing is another cost for homeowners. On the other hand, investing in good waterproofing can save you thousands of dollars in fixing any future damages.

Conclusion

Basement waterproofing is essential for protecting homes from water damage and ensuring the health and safety of your family. Homeowners can stop water from getting into their basements by finding out why the basement is wet and choosing the proper waterproofing method. Your decision to waterproof the basement helps avoid expensive repairs later on. Waterproofing costs differ depending on the technique used, but it is money well spent.

Keeping water out now saves a lot of money and hassle in the future by protecting the home’s condition and providing a dry, comfortable living space. So don’t wait until the water has already caused damage! Waterproof your basement immediately to keep your home secure for many years!

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