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Basement Water Proofing: Ideas to Keep Your Walls and Floors Dry

by Steven Stone

Do You Have a Wet Basement?
Basement waterproofing is a must, and finding standing a wet basement can be devastating. It can ruin valued possessions, cause mold, fungus and mildew, allow termites and rodents into your home through foundation cracks, and cause electrical problems. If not corrected, bacteria, mildew, and even toxic black mold can pose serious health problems for your family, and your property value could deteriorate. Further damage can be caused to paint, wall coverings, flooring materials and more. The only answer, once you've managed to clean up the mess, is to water proof your basement. If you would like to waterproof your basement yourself, here are some valuable tips to help you:

1. Find and Stop Any Leaks

The source of basement water leaks is important to determine. You can start by checking the outside of the house where the water seems to be coming from. Does your land slope toward the house? More about this later. Do your gutters leak? Do you have an automatic sprinkler system that saturates the area? The first step should be to correct the problem, if you are able to determine how the water is getting in.

If serious structural damage has occurred from collapsed walls, support failure, or serious structural cracks, it is definitely time to call in the experts. If you only have a small amount of moisture, make sure the real problem isn't condensation. Leave a piece of aluminum foil on the wall for one week, then see which side is wet to determine if the problem is condensation (inside) or seepage (outside). If the problem is condensation, a dehumidifier should help. A relatively small seepage problem, such as a hole in the wall, may be fairly easy to fix yourself using mortar as a way of sealing the basement hole. Once the problem is resolved, you will want to waterproof your basement to keep water out in the future.

2. Decide Whether to Do it Yourself or Hire a Contractor

There are many companies which specialize in basement waterproofing, and you may decide to simply hire a contractor. This is especially true if you have water leaking in that is under pressure, since that type of leak can be especially difficult to repair.

If you plan to do the waterproofing yourself, start by making sure the concrete walls are prepared. Brush away loose mortar or broken block. Remove all surface contaminants, including grease, dirt, lime deposits and dust. Use a wire brush or sandblast any old paint. Next, use quick dry cement to fill any holes or cracks larger than 1/8 inch.

3. Apply Waterproofing Mix Made for Basements

Purchase a quality water-proofing coating or mix, and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Pay attention to the spread-rate specified by the manufacturer. Moisture seepage will continue if the coating is applied too thin, so apply a second coat. Work the coating into the masonry pores as you go.

According to the Paint and Decorating Retailers' Association, you should purchase a product that uses the word "waterproof coating", rather than "water repellent". Waterproof coating products are better at preventing water seepage under hydrostatic pressure, and are usually formulated for above and/or below grade, and for interior and/or exterior applications. Hydrostatic pressure can be caused by faulty gutter systems, rain runoff, a high water table, and wind-driven rain.

4. Ask Yourself: Do I Need a Sump Pump?

If you live in a low lying area or an area of heavy rains where water manages to find its way into your basement routinely, a sump pump is the safest way to go. It will remove water from the sump basin and discharge it away from your home's foundation, and could save you thousands of dollars in repair costs. The cost to buy a sump pump is from $80 to $200, before labor, and they normally are available from 1/4 HP to 1 HP, depending on the area you need to cover and the amount of water that may need to be pumped at any given time. Sump pumps are often used in conjunction with a Franch drain to divert the water in the direction of the sump basin.

5. Other Considerations to Keep Your Basement Dry

If your property slopes toward the house in front or in back, consider installing a drainage system that will direct the water around to the side of the house and down the natural slope. This will help a great deal to correct the problem of water seepage. If left uncorrected, a water seepage problem could lead to many other serious problems.

Spending the time or money it takes for waterproofing a basement can greatly help in preventing agonizing problems later from loss of property and potential health hazards.
Steven Stone is a writer for ParadoxPro Home and Garden Site. Read more articles on home and garden topics in the Home Style News email newsletter. Subscribe free at
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