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How to Waterproof a Basement: 7 Methods


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If you have consistent water problems in your basement, then you might need to look into some waterproofing techniques to keep your basement dry. Even a small leak can lead to mold and possibly even structural damage to your home, which is why it’s important to take steps to prevent leakage. 

This article will give you some options to correct a leaking basement, and help you determine the problem that may be causing the leak in the first place. Whether you choose to do the work yourself or hire a professional, resolving a basement leak can be critical to your home's overall health.

Basement Waterproofing Fixes

If your basement is leaking you'll want to fix the problem as soon as possible. Here are seven possible fixes to help you waterproof your basement.

Proper Exterior Grading

Ideally you want the land around your basement to slop away from the house. This directs water away from the foundation and is frequently the best defense against leaks.  Over time soil can wash away, or it's possible that the area was never landscaped properly in the first place. Poor exterior grading can cause water to collect and pool against the foundation walls, which will inevitably lead to leaks. Make sure you have a slope of at least 6-8 inches away from the foundation walls, extending for the first 6-8 feet.

Another cause could be paved surfaces that are adjacent to your house. In fact, this can be even more problematic since they shed water so quickly. Check to see that paved surfaces slope away from your house. In addition, any open gaps in driveways, walkways and patio slabs that are near the foundation walls should be patched to prevent water from pooling underneath.

Even if you have proper grading around your basement, water might still be pooling around your foundation. If there are bumps or ridges surrounding your basement they may be preventing water to flow away from the house. 

Make sure your grading system is doing it's job and allowing the water to flow away from your house. You can check this by taking a walk around your house after it rains, or by running a hose lightly around the landscape.

Optimize your Gutter System

Gutters are an essential part of a proper drainage system. If they don’t work correctly it can force water to run off the roof and collect around your foundation. The area surrounding your foundation, is known as the excavation ring, and it's generally packed looser than other areas of your property.

Because of this you want to keep water away from this area. Ensure that your gutter extensions extend past the excavation ring and replace any leaking or rusted gutters. Also, remember to clean your gutters regularly to prevent any clogs. You may want to consult with a gutter contractor to repair or replace your gutter system.

Remove Plant and Shrub Overgrowth

There's no doubt that shrubs help your property look attractive, but believe it or not, they can also cause a basement to leak. Water can follow the roots of shrubs that are planted too close to the foundation walls, and as the water follows the roots, it can end up near the foundation.

Use caution when planting new plants and shrubs. They should not be planted too close to your foundation. And, check your flower beds at least once a year to make sure they're not growing in a manner that can cause a problem. 


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Interior Waterproofing

The best way to waterproof your basement is from the outside, but interior waterproofing can be a quick and simple alternative. If you have small, intermittent leaks then applying some sealant or a waterproofing solution to your basement’s walls may be all that's necessary to solve the problem.

There are three types of interior waterproofing that are based on the type of walls in your basement:

Concrete Waterproof Coating

This type of waterproofing is ideal for concrete or masonry walls, however it can't be applied to painted surfaces. Use a heavy brush made with tampico bristles to apply the coating.

Liquid Rubber Foundation and Basement Sealant - Indoor & Outdoor Use - Easy to Apply - Waterproof Coating - Black, 5 Gallon

Liquid Rubber manufacturers a concrete sealant that can be used both inside or outside.

Silicate-Based Concrete Sealers

A silicate-based sealer soaks into the concrete or brick and creates a waterproof surface. Although, you can't apply it to walls that have already been painted or sealed, you can typically paint over the sealer once it's been applied. A brush, roller, or sprayer can be used to apply a silicate-based sealer.

5-Gal. SX5000 WB DOT Approved Water Based Silane Siloxane Penetrating Concrete Sealer, Brick Sealer, and Paver Sealer

Foundation Armor is a professional level sealant that has been approved by several State Department of Transportation offices.

 Waterproofing Paint

Similar to ordinary wall paint, waterproofing paint can be applied to surfaces that have already been painted. The product can be applied with a brush, roller, or sprayer and one gallon typically covers 75-square feet, where standard paint can cover 300-square feet.

RUST-OLEUM 5024 Watertite Latex Qt

Zinsser makes a waterproof paint that can resist up to 20 psi of water pressure.

Repair Cracks

If you notice any cracks in the wall of your basement the first they you should do is call a structural engineer or foundation specialist to schedule an inspection. Cracks can do more than just let water inside; they can compromise the structural integrity of your home. So, before moving on, you'll want to be certain that there are no serious problems.

Assuming the cracks aren't serious, you can patch them. Deep cracks which run all the way through the wall are one of the most common causes of leaks. To repair a crack, follow these steps:

Step One - Clean the area and remove any loose chips. For stubborn debris, use a small sledgehammer and a cold chisel.

Step Two - A vinay concrete patch is a good choice for fixing cracks in your foundation. Mix the patch to the consistency of a thin past and add latex instead of water to give it some added elasticity and adhesion. Don't mix too much as once, as these products tend to dry quickly.

Step Three - Wet the crack with water before installing the patching product. This will prevent the moisture in the patch material from being drawn out by dry concrete, which can prevent the patch material from forming a solid bond and lead to cracks.

Step Four - Use a trowel to smooth out the patch material and level it with the walls of your foundation.

Install a French Drain

For serious water problems you might want to consider installing a French drain. A French Drain is a drainage system that consists of a continuous line of piping, that runs beneath the floor of the basement and along the entire perimeter of the basement. The pipe is surrounded by coarse gravel and is perforated to let water inside. The water is then removed by a sump pump. The video below explains how a French Drain is installed in a basement.


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Watch the Video

Inject Hydroclay 

Hydroclay can be a very effective waterproofing technique, but it's not really a DIY job. We highly recommend hiring a professional if this is the route you choose.  The Hydroclay is injected into the voids and pathways water follows to enter your foundation. Hydroclay is an excellent water absorber and it's capable of drawing water in and sealing your basement from the outside.

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