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Foundation cracks & basement leak? You need waterproofing

What’s the first thing you think of when you contemplate having to do exterior basement waterproofing? Probably dollar signs, and lots of them. The bad news is – you have a waterproofing problem. The good news is – it’s possible you may not need extensive excavation work and that the problem can be solved through a few fairly painless methods.

Your plan of action starts here

First off, to keep water from penetrating through to the interior basement area, make sure you do a thorough inspection of the exterior of your home. Roof drainage is an important issue when it comes to keeping your basement dry.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Clean out your gutters since dirt and debris will prohibit proper drainage and overflow during heavy rainstorms.
  • Make sure your downspouts discharge at least four feet from the foundation walls.
  • Check the soil grading around your home. After years of settling, the slope may need to be readjusted away from the home.

Assuming you’ve taken care of these tasks and yet your basement is still retaining moisture – or worse, flooding! There are a few things that might be causing the problem. Exterior waterproofing issues generally occur from rainwater, snow melting and overland flooding.

Many of the issues below can be labour-intensive and dangerous if not handled by an experienced waterproofing professional. Most will offer reasonably priced inspections, so don’t be afraid to call a professional.


Foundation Cracks & Gapsfoundation

Whether the walls that make up the foundation of your home are poured concrete or masonry block, they are porous and susceptible to water infiltration. During initial construction, the walls were likely sealed but the water barrier may have deteriorated.

Structural damage occurs from exposure to hydrostatic pressure, poor drainage, rising water table and excess ground water. Repairs to cracks and gaps can be made with an epoxy injection or granular clay filler. This type of repair is usually very effective and rarely requires additional attention.

Waterproof Membrane & Sealant

Crack repair is just the first step in waterproofing process. Next, the foundation walls will need a sealant or membrane application. This will provide a secondary means of blocking water from entering your basement.

Bituminous and elastomeric membranes are the most common types used for this purpose. Bituminous comes in a liquid emulsion form and is petroleum based. It adheres extremely well to vertical concrete surfaces and is thick enough to be applied with a trowel, sprayer or roller. Fiberglass webbing reinforces the membrane between applications.

Polyurethane elastomeric membrane is more expensive than bituminous but should be a permanent waterproofing solution. This durable solution can be applied with a paint brush or roller and is impenetrable to water, gases and chemicals.


Installation or Repair of Weeping Tile

Weeping tile, also known as a French drain system, is your best deterrent to preventing basement flooding. Water can be persistent in its attempts to enter your basement. Regardless of how many walls, membranes and sealants you put in its way, eventually it’s going to find a way inside. However, if you redirect it away from your home by installing weeping tile, you’ll have a greater chance of keeping your lower level space safe and dry.

Named for the old-fashioned terracotta tiles that were originally used for drain pipes, weeping tile is now made from 4″ PVC plastic pipe. Holes in the pipe allow the water to drain away from the house. A trench is dug around the perimeter of your home, gravel lines the bottom, and plastic pipes are then placed on top. As ground water rises, it flows into the holes in the pipe and drains away from the house.

If you’ve encountered problems with your current drain tile system, you may have a blockage. Tree roots, soil or breaks can cause all kinds of water problems and back up into the basement. A camera-tipped cable can be used to inspect the underground pipe without excavation. In cases where a blockage is found, trenchless cleaning is available with a drain snake or high-pressure water jetting process. Of course, serious breaks will require extensive repair work.


Window Wells

Basement windows are great for letting in natural light and occasionally, fresh air. Unfortunately, if they’re located below grade, they may also be letting in water. To correct this problem, window wells can be installed. This semi-circle shaped barrier is generally made from galvanized steel, poly-carbonate or masonry. After the area outside the window is excavated, the window well is attached to the foundation and soil is back-filled against it. Gravel is used to filter water away from the home through the weeping tile. Clear covers can be used to keep the area clear of leaves and debris.


Your basement is an important part of your home. Make sure it’s protected by calling in the waterproofing experts!

About the Author: Jon Labelle is an expert in the field of home improvement and remodeling with extensive knowledge and years of experience. Every homeowner’s best friend!

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