If you’re trying to figure out how to cure a wet or musty basement, you’re probably curious about advertisements for products that claim waterproof basement walls. So you wonder: Is it possible to dry out a basement simply by sealing the walls?
Yes, it is possible — but to make sure you’re choosing the right option, you need to figure out if the moisture is coming from the outside, or if it’s high humidity that’s condensing on the cool walls of your basement.
Basement waterproofing can lead to many problems due to insufficient or poor waterproofing. Seepage can cause extensive damages if it is not addressed properly. Sometimes you will try to apply a coat or any other product in the basement when the actual problem comes from the outer walls. Let’s see how to waterproof a basement.
At Hitch Property Constructions, we offer the best range waterproofing services to rectify your water issues.
What causes moisture issues in the basement of a home?
Moisture can invade your basement in many ways. Some of the more common reasons for water damage starting in your basement include:
- Leaky pipes — The normal wear and tear of age and use can cause pipes to develop leaks. These issues usually start slowly but worsen over time if not addressed.
- Flooding: Whether because of a burst pipe or a heavy storm, flooding can quickly cause all kinds of issues in the lowest parts of your home, such as the basement.
- Soil issues around the foundation: In Oklahoma especially, our clay soil contracts when dry and expands when wet. This constant cycle of soil expansion and contraction can damage your foundation, making it easier for pooled outside water to get inside your home.
What kind of damage can moisture cause in your basement?
Put — a lot! Excess moisture is damaging to all areas of a home, including the basement. Whether you use your basement often or rarely get down there except to store something, moisture accumulation can cost a host of issues that are potentially unhealthy, costly, and even dangerous.
Some common issues caused by excess moisture, leaks, and other water damage in basements include:
Asthma and allergies
Moisture may start in your basement, but it’s not going to stay there. As it evaporates, it works its way into the rest of your home, increasing interior humidity which breeds dust mites, mildew, and mould. All of these are allergens which can cause irritation to throats, noses, eyes, and skin. People living with asthma especially struggle in such conditions.
High energy costs
That added moisture in the air from your basement? It’s probably increasing your electric bill. Humid air enters your main living areas, which must be cooled or heated depending on the season. The problem is that humid air takes more work to heat and cool, which makes your HVAC unit work harder. The result: increased utility bills, to the tune of up to 15-18% more than you’d otherwise be paying, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Unfortunately, moisture in your basement can also cause a host of foundational problems, including many issues that may look cosmetic but can be signs of a weakened foundation, such as:
- Cracks in basement walls
- Spalling — which is chipped concrete resulting from water damage
- Brown or rust-coloured stains on basement walls and floors
- Wood rot on floor joists and other exposed wood
- Sagging floors
- Collapsed basement ceilings
All these issues add up to costly foundation repairs if not dealt with swiftly. This is why preventing water damage, and moisture incursion in the first place is so valuable.
Signs Your Basement May Have a Moisture Problem
To spot issues early, keep an eye out for signs of moisture damage like these:
- Wall cracks
- Chips in paint
- Chipped concrete
- Bowing or sagging floors
- Weakened or fallen ceiling
- Brown and rust-coloured stains
- Rotted wood
- Damaged flooring
- Musty odours
- Visible mildew or mould
- Increased signs of pests like rodents and insects (often attracted by excess moisture)
- Higher than normal utility bills
- Symptoms of allergies and asthma, especially if they are worse than normal
- Need to use a dehumidifier to dry out the basement regularly
Different Ways to Waterproof Your Basement
Although foundation repair and flood damage recovery should be left to trained experts, there are a number of waterproofing projects you can tackle on your own to prevent basement flooding and reduce the risk of intrusive moisture. Use these basement waterproofing tips to keep your home dry and comfortable.
In addition to cutting down the risk of flooding and standing water, the benefits of waterproofing can include cutting down on musty odours, preventing mould and dry rot, and keeping furniture and belongings safe from water damage.
Buy a Dehumidifier
If your basement waterproofing efforts are aimed at cutting down musty, subterranean humidity and condensation, a residential dehumidifier unit may do the trick. Dehumidifiers draw moisture out of the air before it can dampen and ruin walls, carpeting, furniture and more.
Dehumidifiers come in many varieties, but most plugs directly into wall outlets and can be emptied regularly when their catch basins are full. Many can also be fitted with hoses so they can empty continuously into a washtub or floor drain, eliminating the need to empty them manually.
Choose Waterproof Carpeting Materials
Carpeted surfaces can take a beating if your basement has water control issues. Luckily, there are steps you can take to protect them from leaks and standing water. If you currently have bare floors or are in the market to replace your flooring, waterproof carpeting could be a good investment if your basement has flooded before or has issues with condensation.
You can also install water-resistant carpet pads to create a buffer between your basement floor and the carpet itself.
Even if standing water isn’t an issue in your basement, carpeted areas should be cleaned periodically to stave off mould growth, especially the spots underneath your furniture.
Pro Tip: Wet carpet should be thoroughly dried with fans and dehumidifiers. The carpet should also be steam cleaned as soon as possible in order to sanitize and prevent musty odours from setting in. If the scent of mildew has permanently set in and it’s too late to save your carpet, you may need to tear it out entirely.
Apply Waterproof Sealant to Walls and Floor
Cracks can sometimes appear in concrete or brick walls, allowing water to seep in from the outside. If you don’t know how to seal basement walls, don’t sweat it – it’s usually as simple as sealing the crack with hydraulic concrete and coating the broken surface with masonry waterproofing paint.
If the paint is peeling off, first consider removing it to identify any leaks underneath. Before waterproofing basement walls, prepare the surface by thoroughly cleaning with a wire brush to remove any lingering deposits. Apply a solid layer of waterproof sealant and let it dry completely before attempting to re-paint.
Looking for the best waterproofing company? Look no further! Hitch Property Constructions has you covered.
Keep Wood Surfaces and Water Separate
Dry rot can occur if water or excess moisture makes prolonged contact with wooden surfaces and structures – especially support beams and floorboards.
To prevent dry rot from cropping up in the future, eliminating potential sources of excess moisture, such as leaking pipes that make contact with the wood, is an important step. The wood should also be kept separate from the soil surrounding the foundation in order to reduce the risk of dry rot.
Pro Tip: If dry rot has taken hold in part of your basement, a fungicide can be purchased at most home improvement stores and used to clear the mould away. Keep in mind that these chemicals can be hazardous to pets and children, so follow the directions on the container and use with caution.
Look for Outdoor Issues
Even though issues like mildew, peeling paint and dry rot may manifest indoors, exterior factors are often a part of the problem. As you’re waterproofing your basement, it’s important to check your gutters and downspouts for leaks, which can lead to rainwater flowing directly toward your foundation.
Turn to the Professionals
If you’re struggling to contain routine leakage or flooding in your basement during rainstorms, there could be a variety of contributing factors that may be out of your control. Addressing these basement waterproofing problems takes professional training and equipment, so it’s recommended to reach out to an expert for advice or service.
Long-Term Damage Control
The benefits of waterproofing extend beyond preventing damage and costly repairs – it also provides peace of mind. In addition to the restorative and preventative projects covered here, there are other steps homeowners can take to be better prepared in case of unforeseen water damage.
If your property’s water table sits around or levels with your basement, a sump pump may be a wise investment to divert water away from the structure to prevent basement flooding. If you’re still worried about flooding, it may be worth arranging the space so that valuable belongings don’t make direct contact with the ground.
A Step-By-Step Guide to Basement Waterproofing
To protect your basement from water, you will need to dig all the outer perimeter of the basement down to the base of the foundation. Having the right product applied over the walls will be key to having a successful waterproofed basement.
Drainage tiles, gravel or crushed stone drains, perforated pipe, or other approved systems or materials shall be installed at or below the area to be protected and shall discharge by gravity or mechanical means into an approved drainage system.
Check for Cracks
With the excavation completed, clean the wall and check for any cracks or areas causing the water to seep in. If you have detected these issues, apply a coat of hydraulic cement to the walls to stop the leakage. Hydraulic cement will expand as it is curing and with its chemical properties, it will fill in the cracks and voids, reducing the probability of leakage.
Apply a coat of cement-based sealant to all exterior walls. Cement-based sealants are easy to apply and can be used over concrete and masonry surfaces. This type of sealant will harden and will close the concrete pores. In case a hairline crack was not fixed in the previous step with hydraulic cement, it will be covered in this procedure.
Apply a Membrane
Install a waterproofing membrane. A heavy coat of the membrane, an asphalt-modified polyurethane material, can be troweled or sprayed on to seal the foundation wall against water from the outside. Elastomeric membranes are made of modified asphalt and exhibit great waterproofing characteristics.
One of the most important benefits of elastomeric membranes is that they can flex and move to accommodate when new cracks occur. Be sure to use a waterproofing product instead of a damp-proofer product that is likely to fail.
Install Drainage Mat
Install a drainage mat with moulded dimples. The material used needs to create air gaps between the wall and itself so that moisture can travel to the drain structure. The drainage mat should be cut to the exact depth of the foundation. It can also help ease lateral pressure against the foundation.
Complete the French Drain
Install the French drain or weeping tile. The pipe, 4″ could be used, must be installed at the base of the footing weeping the water level below the basement floor. It is a good practice to install cleanouts, to provide easy to access for maintenance purposes.
Backfill with gravel and complete your French drain installation. Gravel should be 18″ from grade for earth areas, and 4″ from grade where cement will be poured.
What to Avoid Doing
The following should be avoided when waterproofing a basement:
- Do not use tar. Tar will become very brittle and will crack eventually.
- Do not use plastic to waterproof your basement walls. The plastic-like material will peel, and moisture will make its way in.
- Don’t use limestone to backfill. Limestone will reduce drainage capabilities and could clog all drainage structures. Use gravel instead.
How does waterproofing your basement benefit your home?
Waterproofing is a great way to reduce the likelihood of moisture problems starting in your basement. This technique, when professionally applied by a skilled waterproofing specialist, can produce many advantages for your home:
- Limits the spread of damage resulting from leaky pipes
- Makes it easier to make repairs because the water damage can’t spread
- Allows you to fully use the space in your basement, adding to your living space if you desire to finish the basement
- No need to worry about moisture damaging possessions, carpeting, flooring or foundation
- Reduces or eliminates the need for costly repairs or restoration after heavy storms
- Prevents the growth of unhealthy mould and mildew
- Adds resale value to your home
- Gives you peace of mind that your investment in your home is well-protected
Types of Interior Waterproofing
Concrete waterproofing coatings: These thick coatings are cement-like; once dry, they adhere permanently to concrete and masonry walls. You apply the coating with a heavy brush made with Tampico bristles — a natural fibre. Swirl the brush at the final stage of application to give the wall an attractive, finished look.
Concrete waterproof coatings can’t be applied to previously painted surfaces; check the label. A 5- gallon bucket (you add water to the dry mix) is $30-$40 and covers 100 sq. ft.
Silicate-based concrete sealers, also known as densifiers, are also suitable only for walls that haven’t been painted or sealed. The sealers soak in and chemically react with ingredients in the concrete or brick, forming a hard, waterproof surface.
Because these are penetrating sealers, they can’t flake off or peel, and you can paint over them (but check the label first). Applying a silicate-based sealer with a brush, roller, or sprayer is easy enough for a DIY project. A 1-gallon can is $40-$50 and covers 200 sq. ft., but you’ll need at least two coats.
Waterproofing paint is an acrylic formula, not all that different from ordinary wall paint. But you brush, roll, or spray it on much more thickly — one gallon covers just 75 square feet, not the 300 square feet typical with standard paint.
Waterproof paint is fine for DIY application. You can apply it over painted surfaces, and paint over it once it’s cured (1 gal./$35).
Plastic sheets and panels are suitable as wall waterproofing only in combination with interior basement drainage systems. They don’t stop water from getting through the wall, but they do stop it from ruining things in the basement.
Water that gets through the wall runs down the back of the plastic, into a drainage system in the floor. A sump pump moves water out of your basement. The entire system is $3,000-$5,000 for a 20-by-20-foot basement room.
TIP: None of these products will work unless cracks and gaps are properly sealed. So make sure you fill cracks and gaps less than 1/8-inch wide with polyurethane caulk made for masonry ($5/10-oz. tube). Patch wider cracks with epoxy filler.
We have a huge range of waterproofing services Melbourne at Hitch Property Constructions that offers stress-free services for any water problem you got!
Your Best Bet: Exterior Waterproofing
The surest way to waterproof your basement walls is a full-scale exterior waterproofing solution. It’s also the most expensive — often $15,000 to $30,000.
Exterior waterproofing involves excavating all around the house to the full depth of the foundation walls, then installing a waterproof coating or membrane topped by drainage panels. The panels provide an easy path for water to flow down to an exterior French drain at the bottom of your foundation. From there, water flows by gravity — or with the aid of a sump pump — away from your foundation to another part of your property, or into a storm drain.
When it comes to protecting your home from water damage, waterproofing your basement is a crucial piece of the puzzle. But if despite your best DIY efforts, your basement still ends up becoming an indoor swimming pool, you need to have a plan of action – it’s important for the safety of your belongings and your loved ones. In addition to calling a professional, learn what to do (and what not to do) when your basement floods.