How to Properly Waterproof Your Basement

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Combating a wet basement is not an easy task. However, dealing with the possible damage that a wet basement can cause to your home can be a lot more serious. There are different ways to waterproof your basement. What solution you choose to go with will usually depend on the type of problem you have with your basement. If your basement is wet, it won’t be usable for storage. In addition, a damp basement can cause health issues for you and your family, as well as possible damage to foundation walls. That being said, don’t ignore the clear signs that point to a wet basement.

Basement Water Damage
Basement Water Damage

The alarming signs

As mentioned, you will notice several reasons for concern if your basement is damp and in need of waterproofing. If you want to stay on the safe side, you should never ignore these signs. For example, if your gutters are constantly blocked and full of debris, you should inspect the condition of your basement more. Water runoff close to your foundation as well as clear water stains in the basement are obvious warning signs that something has to be done. Flaking walls, mulch that moves everywhere and cracks in the foundation walls also point out to this particular problem.

Basement Water
Basement Water

Determine the cause

In general, you may be experiencing issues with a wet basement because of high levels of humidity or the moisture that’s coming from the outside. You have to pinpoint what the main cause for dampness is. You can effectively learn the main cause of this issue simply by placing aluminum foil on the interior basement walls. If condensation forms on the outside of the foil, the humidity comes from the basement. In this case, you may not have a need for full waterproofing. A dehumidifier might be able to solve this problem effectively. On the other hand, if the condensation is formed on the inside of the foil (the side that faces the wall), the moisture is coming from the outside. It may be due to the high water table or ineffective soil drainage. In this case, waterproofing is necessary.

Ways to waterproof your interior walls

You can add waterproof coatings of concrete to your basement walls. However, it’s essential that you’re aware that these coatings can’t be applied to a painted surface. These are perfect for cement and masonry walls. The moment they dry, cement sticks to the walls permanently.

Basement Interior Walls
Basement Interior Walls

Using silicate-based concrete sealers is relatively easy for a DIY project. The same rule applies in this case as well – you can’t apply them on already painted and sealed surfaces. However, if you use these densifiers, they will form a waterproof barrier that prevents any water leakage to your basement. After the process is done, you can paint and seal these particular coatings.

Acrylic waterproof paint is easily applied as well. Also, you don’t have to worry about whether the walls are previously painted or not. However, in order to notice a positive effect, you need to apply a really thick coat of this special paint.

You can use plastic sheets and panels to waterproof your walls in the basement. However, this trick won’t work unless you already have a basement drainage system with a proper sump pump. Essentially, these panels and sheets don’t prevent the moisture from getting through the walls, but they can prevent possible damage to your items stored in the basement.

Basement Drainage System
Basement Drainage System

How to install a drainage system for your basement

In all honesty, this is tough work. But if you put some effort into it, you’ll effectively protect your basement from moisture and other possible issues related to water damage. Cover your entire workspace with a plastic sheet so that you can prevent the dust from spreading around. Protect every joist space as well. Then, you need to bust up the floor. You can rent an electric jackhammer and start busting the concrete along the wall. Work in sections and once you’re done, make sure to break the concrete chunks into even smaller pieces. With concrete removed, you need to dig up a trench. Don’t go deeper than the bottom of the footing. This is essential if you don’t want cracks in your foundation. Keep the buckets for debris and dirt near you. Now it’s time to install a basin. The top of the basin should be leveled with the finished basement concrete, so make sure that you dig an adequate hole. Choose a relatively deep basin so that it matches the length of your drain. You also need to cut the holes in your basin for the pipes. Pay attention that you don’t cut the holes at the bottom of the basin! Place the irrigation pipe with holes facing down. Once you set the pipe, you need to install the irrigation hose as well. These will carry the water away. Then all that’s left to do is to cover the concrete again and attach the sump pump.

Exterior Waterproofing
Exterior Waterproofing

Exterior waterproofing

Exterior waterproofing is the best way to protect your basement from moisture and damage. However, it is also pretty pricey compared to other waterproofing solutions. In that respect, you need to talk to an expert in the field. They will tell you whether exterior waterproofing is a necessary investment for your particular issue. Basically, exterior waterproofing means that your entire area around the house should be excavated. This should go as deep as your foundation walls. After that, some sort of waterproof coating together with drainage panels is necessary. You will still need an effective drainage system and a sump pump in this case as well.

Don’t forget that before you start any work on waterproofing your basement, you need to repair the existing damage first. You need to fill any cracks in the walls before you proceed. Moreover, don’t forget to talk about this issue and the work you’re planning to do with your building official. You may need some kind of permit for this project. Also, the official may be aware of the ongoing water issues in your area, which can help you choose the best way to waterproof your basement.