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Waterproofing the Basement

Of all the threats to the integrity of your home, water damage is one of the most destructive. As the lowest point of the house, basements tend to bear the brunt of excess moisture.

Besides damaging contents, subterranean flooding causes other serious problems. Chronically damp basements can create respiratory problems for those living in the home and constant moisture can damage the structure.

According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, your property may also depreciate in value if your basement has a tendency towards flooding.

A variety of circumstances lead to wet basements. Familiarizing yourself with the various avenues by which water enters your home allows you to anticipate problems and protect your basement against flooding.
Water in basement
Source: Seepage Solutions – Calgary

Basement Wall

Cracks in basement walls are a common reason for flooding. Such cracks should be fixed as soon as they appear. Common crack treatments include injection of products containing polyurethane and epoxy resins. In order to effectively fill in such cracks, work must be done from the inside to the outside of the building. In the case of large or extensive cracks, calling in a professional is often the wisest course of action.

Lot Drainage

When land around the home slopes toward the structure, rainwater flows directly to the weeping tile and can cause an overflow in the foundation drainage system. If necessary, add soil around the perimeter of the house so that for 6 to 8 feet out from the foundation the land slopes away. Such grading should consist of a 2-inch drop per foot.


Eavestroughs (gutters) clogged with leaves and debris will fail to perform their function, which is to divert water away from your home. Instead, water collects on the roof and runs down the siding to the base of your foundation where it can cause serious moisture problems below.

At least once a season you’ll to check that the eavestroughs flow freely by running water onto the top of the house. Remove debris as necessary. At the same time, also check that the downspouts divert water at least five feet away from the building. If you lack eavestroughs for at least every 35 feet, consider adding more. Also consider installing eavestrough covers to keep out debris.

Sump System

Sump pump maintenance is important so that the device runs properly and prevents damage when water does make its way into your basement.

Sump pit.
Weeping tile drainage often contains debris that can collect in the pit. Water that sits in the pit can also develop an unpleasant odor. Clean out the pit periodically by running fresh water through until the pump cleans it out.

Sump pump.
Test the pump each year before the rainy season starts or you leave for an extended time. Pour water into the pit and make certain that the pump is fully functional. Also remove and clean the pump every year.

Sump discharge pipe.
Regularly check the location on the outside of the house where the discharge pipe expels the water, and make sure that it is flowing freely. Also ensure that the water drains at least five feet away from the house. Adjust the sump pipe if necessary.

While protecting your home’s under-story from flooding does take some forethought and time, a dry basement is well worth the effort.

By Julie Bawden-Davis

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