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Waterproofing Your Basement

Updated on September 2, 2011

Hydrostatic pressure forces water through the foundation of your house if the water is not drained away from the house. The water will find a way to penetrate through the any opening through basement walls, even if it is microscopic. The method to prevent this from happening is to make the concrete foundation waterproof. There are also steps below to take if the leaking is occurring now.

Examine the area around your home carefully to determine where excess water accumulates. It is best to do this when it is raining. Note any areas where standing water occurs.

Identify why the water is not draining elsewhere. Look at the ground going up to the house and see if it is sloping away. Look for leaks from the gutter, connectors, and other parts of the downspouts. Water coming over the gutter instead of through the downspout means that the downspout is obstructed or the gutter has too many debris. If water goes over the gutter it will stream to the ground close to the house and possibly into the house.

Ensure that the downspout is not putting water straight down to the ground. If the water is going down, you may have to buy another section of a downspout so that water will drain away from the house. A spout splash can also be used if you don’t want to extend a very long downspout on the ground.

Trouble leaks can take the work of a detective to identify. Sometimes the problem could befuddle good plumbers. Case in point is a water main buried deep in the ground. The breach of the pipe could occur away from the house but within your property. The water may make its way to the house eventually. An engineer from your local government is another source that can help identify water problems around your house. Another hard to find problem is the rain water from the roof and making its way down through the house. The water path could take many twists and turns and the accumulation could settle at any floor of the home unnoticed. The last level the moisture will stop is the basement as there is nowhere else to go.

Examine your sump pump and determine where the discharged water is going. The best way is to see the sump pump in operation during a very rainy day. Find out if the excess water is going away from the house. If it is going towards the house, take steps to ensure that the water is rerouted to lower elevation from your home.

Every water problem around the basement may be unique and it may take some investigation to identify the cause and solution. Your research could allow you to correct your own leak problem or help you seek professional assistance.

When you have control of where the water is coming from and how to eliminate it, you can start waterproofing your basement. Any holes and cracks must be sealed. There are a variety of repair products for holes and cracks depending on their size. Drylok is one of several companies that offer waterproof sealants, cement patches, and other materials for bonding mortar. The store or the maker of the water proofing product can offer help.

Prepare the crack to allow the filler or sealant to adhere to the surface. Chisel the crack with a hammer to make the crack wider below the top of the crack. When the patch is applied, it will be more difficult to move upwards.

If water still can’t be controlled from a crack and repair is needed, a weep pipe can be constructed to reroute the water while still working on the solving the source of the water problem. A weep pipe has to match the size of the hole in order to insert a short pipe into the crevice. A waterproof patch is filled around the pipe so that only water comes through the crack. The end of the pipe can be attached with connecting pipes or hoses where the excess water can be routed to a drain.

The best time to waterproof the whole basement is after all sources of water leaks have been removed and the ability to handle excess water in big storms are under control.

There are several waterproofing kits, methods, and systems for your basement. With a little research, you can find companies to check which product can work best for your home. There are kits that you can do it yourself or elaborate applications that will require a contractor. The effect is that the basement will have the same effect as a boat. The waterproofing product or system will oppose the hydrostatic pressure to keep water from penetrating the underground walls.

In addition to the interior, it is recommended that waterproofing material is also applied to the exterior side of the basement walls.

An even better approach is to apply waterproofing material outside the basement walls as well as the inside walls. Unfortunately, it is not practical to do this when the house is already built.

Fig 1. Water overflow over gutter.
Fig 1. Water overflow over gutter. | Source
Fig 2.  Sump Pump
Fig 2. Sump Pump | Source
Fig 3.  Patching a Wall
Fig 3. Patching a Wall | Source
Fig 4.  Example of a Weep Pipe
Fig 4. Example of a Weep Pipe | Source
Figure 5. Hydrostatic pressure
Figure 5. Hydrostatic pressure | Source


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