The Ultimate Guide to Basement Waterproofing

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The signs you may need basement waterproofing are simple to spot. Damp spots or condensation, water stains, or a musty or damp smell are all excellent indicators that moisture is getting into your basement. 

There might be an easy and cheap fix for the moisture in your basement, or it may be more extensive. Regardless, do not let this go unattended. Water damage can quickly cause serious problems, including mold, structural damage, and more. 

What are the signs that you need basement waterproofing?

Look for these signs that need to waterproof your basement:

  • Standing water in your basement
  • Visible leaks in the floor or walls
  • Water stains on the floor or walls
  • Window condensation
  • Swollen doors
  • Musty smell
  • Mold or mildew
  • Cracks in your floors or walls

If you suspect you have a wet basement, start with identifying the source of the water. You must address the water problem before deciding upon a solution. Do a full inspection of your foundation, both inside and out. Look for cracks, gaps, or signs of water stains.

Find basement wall leaks by taping a sheet of foil to the walls of your foundation. Remove it after a few days and see if it is wet on the wall side. If it is, water is getting through your foundation. 

A basement waterproofing and foundation contractor can inspect your gutters and drainage to check for problems and tell you how to address them.

basement waterproofing

Why should you waterproof your basement?

  • Water should never be allowed to pool in your home. It is dangerous and can lead to multiple problems, including health hazards and damage to your home’s integrity. Moisture problems only get worse with time. 
  • Mold – Avoid mold and other damage. Mold multiplies in damp and dark environments, potentially posing health hazards and additional damage to your home and possessions.
  • Structural damage – Excess moisture over time can damage your foundation, causing it to weaken and warp and even threaten your home’s structural integrity. This type of repair can end up very costly.
  • Utility damage – Your basement houses the critical equipment that powers your home, such as water heaters, pipes, and more. Water damage can cause these to erode.
  • Odors – Unpleasant odors and can seep upstairs, eventually causing allergies and other reactions.
  • Damage to things stored there – Clothes, essential papers, books, seasonal items, holiday decorations, and lots more are typically stored in the basement. Don’t risk damage to them.
  • Loss of use of your space – planning to finish off the basement for that work area or man cave? You’ll need it to be moisture-free.

What causes leaks in your basement?

A wet basement can be caused by any number of factors.

  • Heavy rain can saturate the soil around your foundation and cause water seepage into your basement. Waterproofing by a basement waterproofing contractor can be a sound investment and avoid mold, odors and general dampness in your basement
  • Water can sometimes seep in through cracks in your foundation or from lack of adequate drainage. A foundation contractor can address this.
  • Basement cracks – A homeowner can sometimes handle this common problem. It must be sealed with a concrete sealer. 
  • Groundwater swelling – Certain areas are prone to this. If so, consider the installation of a sump pump or French drain.
  • Condensation – Condensation from poor ventilation in unheated or uncooled basements is very common and may be handled with a dehumidifier.
  • Water runoff from gutters that drain toward your home can be sending unwanted water into your home. A simple fix is to redirect them.

What are the options for basement waterproofing?

Options for waterproofing your basement run from the very simple (and cheap)  to somewhat complicated (and costly.) They range from replacing or redirecting a gutter, running a dehumidifier, grading your yard, or installing a drainage system, either interior or exterior. 

A full inspection will indicate your course of action.

Some options and solutions:

  • Redirect any gutters, drainpipes, or water that may be draining toward your basement.
  • Run a dehumidifier in your basement if your ventilation is poor, or the basement is unheated or lacks air conditioning
  • Apply interior waterproofing or sealant if you see signs of seepage through the walls.

Waterproof your wall by filling any gaps with cement and sealing it with waterproof masonry paint. Several waterproofing products are available at your local home improvement store to help protect your basement from moisture and water damage:

  • Seal your basement with an acrylic coating to seal your walls if your basement is above ground. It’s simple to paint or spray on.
  • Liquid rubber coating or liquid rubber sealants will bond to most materials and be painted onto your basement surfaces to protect it from water seepage.
  • The product you use will vary depending upon what type of surface you have- concrete block, stucco, or brick. You may also look at sealer panels that are designed to cover cracks on your basement walls. Consult with your local home improvement center or call a pro to get the best results!
  • Install a sump pump or French drain

If your basement is waterproofed, and leakage continues, you may want to consider a basement drainage system. There are several types:

A French drain may be a simple solution. This drain keeps water seepage away from a basement and can often be a DIY job. An exterior French drain is a drainpipe placed in a trench under the soil at the highest point of your yard to divert water away from the foundation. 

Installing an interior French drain can be more complicated as it requires digging into the foundation along the basement walls. Unless you are skilled in using a jackhammer, this is one for the professionals! 

A sump pump will keep groundwater from getting into your basement and will drain water that does get inside. It is set at a level that triggers the pump to remove the water once it reaches a certain level. This would not be effective in handling leaks in your walls but will address groundwater. 

  • Floor drain installation 

A floor drain system is usually installed at the time of construction. It is a drain below the basement floor that keeps water from entering into the basement. To build a drain after construction, a trench is dug along the basement walls, and a drain system is installed in it. Concrete is repoured, and sealant applied.

  • Exterior waterproofing

Soil is dug away from your foundation, and the trench is filled with drain material and gravel. Sealants and waterproofing materials are applied to the foundation’s outside walls. 

Damage Buddy Tip: If you’re building a new home, be sure to ask about installing a moisture barrier. Also, ask about insulation that comes included in a vapor barrier. And discuss options of floor drain systems. 

How much will it cost to waterproof my basement?

Cost depends upon the source of the moisture. It can be as simple as redirecting a gutter or drainpipe.

You may be able to do a simple drain redirect or clean out at no expense. Installing a new drainpipe can be less than a couple of hundred dollars.If ventilation is your issue, a dehumidifying unit can be your solution at a couple of hundred bucks.

Repairing cracks in floors can be more costly from a few hundred dollars to thousands.

Who does basement waterproofing?

Basement waterproofing and foundation repair contractors can handle any job. Be sure you select one that is trained, experienced, certified, and insured.

They should be able to discuss all waterproofing options, including the installation of a sump pump, crack repairs, and other waterproofing treatments. Ask for a free estimate and about guarantees and whether that is something you can transfer with ownership of your house. 

Some industry organizations that issue certifications and memberships are the Basement Health Association (BHA), Waterproofing Contractors Association (WCA), and Sealant Waterproofing & Restoration Institute (SWRI).

Foundation repairs are handled by structural engineers or foundation repair specialists and can be more complicated and expensive. If you see cracks and leaks, you should call a foundation repair specialist. 

Will my homeowner’s insurance cover this?

Homeowner’s insurance does not always cover water damage and basement waterproofing. They usually include above-ground water intrusion and damage from a failed sump pump or appliance. Discuss this with your insurance agent before moving ahead with costly fixes.

1 Comment
  1. I appreciate you helping me to understand that the cost of waterproofing your basement depends on the source. My sister recently moved to a new state, and it gets pretty humid there, so I would imagine that there is a lot of water in the ground. She would probably want to have her basement waterproofed so that her home doesn’t get damaged.

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