Moisture in the basement is destructive and potentially dangerous. Basement waterproofing allows your home to stay dry during spring run offs, major rainstorms and other severe weather patterns. But when the DIY methods of basement waterproofing falls short of your expectations, call in an experienced waterproofing company to get the job done right.
Not all waterproofing firms can handle this type of project for you. Most have the equipment and staff available, but this project requires extensive knowledge in excavation, foundation repairs, and complicated interior repairs that dismantle and replace vital elements of your home. Would you want to trust that type of home improvement to just any company? Look for a waterproofing contractor that specializes in basement work and foundation installation and repairs.
Steps To Basement Waterproofing
There are two basic methods of waterproofing:
- External repairs
- Internal repairs
Your contractor may advise one over the other, or your budget may dictate the best course of action. External methods of waterproofing are often more labor intensive and require heavy excavation equipment. Interior methods also get messy, accessing areas under the floor slabs and requiring plenty of labor hours for a complete repair.
How Your Waterproofing Contractor Will Waterproof Your Basement From the Outside
External waterproofing methods are best, since they stop the moisture before it enters the foundation wall. Grass and soil around the house foundation will be removed, right down to the base of the foundation and below. The width of this trench depends on the soil condition, but your contractor should ensure the hole is covered and safe when open.
The foundation wall is then given a thorough brush down using a wire brush. All dirt is removed and the surface is roughed up to allow for better adhesion. Parging is applied to the wall, with a rubber membrane laid on top covering the entire surface of the foundation from corner to corner. A thick rubber coating is applied as an outer layer for extra protection.
This process involves a large amount of materials and hours of labor; it's not an inexpensive process, but does create an effective barrier against moisture. In order to direct water away from the building, most contractors install weeping tiles with a 4-inch diameter around the perimeter of the foundation. Set at the base of the footings, the weeping tiles are then covered with gravel (about 12 inches thick) and the trench is back-filled with soil and sodded. The top grade should slope away from the home as well, in order to avoid water pooling on the surface.
How Your Contractor Will Waterproof Your Basement From the Inside
Internal basement waterproofing is less effective than external methods, but it can be done in any weather and often costs less. Internal repair products are applied on the inside foundation wall, and work best when installed under the floor slab where moisture is present.
Internal waterproofing membranes can be applied on the walls over foundation cracks and to stop leaks. But many waterproofing contractors will cut through the floor slab as well, installing the membrane where it is most needed.
The floor slab is removed along the exterior foundation wall, usually at a width of 12-inches and down to the footings. Membranes are attached following the product instructions and weeping tile is installed to direct water away from the wall and toward a sump pit. Gravel covers the weeping tile and back-filled soil will fill the hole under the repaired floor slab.
The floor should also be sealed against moisture. A vapor barrier and rubber membrane can be installed under the subfloor to act as a barrier against condensation and water coming up from underneath the slab. Some sealing products can be applied directly to the concrete, although they are not generally as effective as a rubber membrane or plastic sheet. In any case, be sure the base of your foundation is also sealed against moisture.
Looking For Problems
Regular inspections allow you to catch water damage early. Walk around your home in the spring and fall, keeping an eye out for cracks, holes, water stains and erosion. The extent of the damage should be carefully noted. Have a look at the interior of your basement as well, looking for evidence of water and excessive condensation.
You should also consider removing or trimming any trees or large plants encroaching on your foundation. Roots can direct water to the concrete wall, where it will collect and potentially leak into your home.
Misdirected gutters are another major problem. Make sure the downspouts extend far beyond the foundation and that your gutters are clear from organic build up. This will help avoid water puddles and create optimum drainage, conditions that reduce water problems even in leaky basements.
The Unseen Threat
Remember that problems can arise from water buildup behind the walls and under flooring. Even when discoloration and damage are not evident, mold and mildew can grow, creating a major health problem. Odors and certain health issues, like difficulty breathing and runny noses, are often evidence of a mold build up due to basement water leaks.
Cracks and gaps on the foundation's exterior need immediate attention. And external repairs are generally the best idea, especially if you have a finished basement. Do not wait for water damage to show on the inside; call your waterproofing contractor at the first sign of damage on the foundation's exterior.
Avoid the expensive and unhealthy damage of water leaks by hiring a contractor to complete a basement waterproofing project. Whether you opt for external or internal repairs, an experienced contracting firm will apply a durable, effective coating that acts as a barrier against water damage. These valuable measures should provide the necessary protection for your home, providing you with peace of mind.