How to Complete Basement Waterproofing

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Basement waterproofing can eliminate moisture problems and return your basement to a clean and usable area of your home. Gutters in disrepair, leaking pipes, condensation, and water seepage are the most common causes of a wet basement.

Things You'll Need

  • Gutter Splash Block
  • Flex-Drain Pipe
  • Waterproofing Masonry Sealer
  • Stiff-Bristled Paintbrush
  • Wire Brush
  • Household Cleaner
  • Latex Masonry Caulk
  • Cement Mixture
  • Trowel
  • Paint roller cleaning tool
  • The majority of all basement waterproofing problems occur due to water pooling near your home's foundation. The steps you need to take to complete basement waterproofing begin outside the home. Start by checking the gutters and their downspouts. Be sure they are not plugged, rusted, or leaking. The ideal time to check the water flow through the gutters is when it is raining. A moderate to heavy rain will reveal the most about the gutter's performance. So grab your umbrella and head outside.

    Typically the guttering will be made of a continuous metal seamless design. Unless there is rusting or other punctured areas, there should not be leaking around the main lengths of your guttering. Check closely are at the connection points. This is where the downspouts connect perpendicularly with the main gutter runs. This is typically an area where leaking will occur. Repair any leaks you find in this area. It may be as simple as tightening the connector elbows of the downspouts. A touch of caulk or adding gutter screws can help to secure the connections and prevent leaks.

    If you find that water is not flowing through the downspouts, then you likely have a clog. Leaves, pine needles, dirt, and other debris can become trapped in the gutters. You will need to clean the gutters and restore proper water flow.

  • Having good water drainage and flow through the gutters is just the first step to basement waterproofing. The second and more important step is to ensure that the water run off is diverted away from the home and subsequently, the basement. If you are unable to keep water from pooling around the edges of your basement foundation, you will not be able to fully complete the basement waterproofing.

    Be sure that the soil grade (angle) is flowing downhill away from the house. The grade does not need to be significant. A relatively minor slope will suffice to run water away from your house. Rake and move the dirt around the edges of your foundation to get a proper grade.

    Place gutter splash block pans at the bottom of the downspout. This will flow the water away from the basement.

    If you want to be absolutely sure the gutter water is drained well away from your basement, consider using flex-drain pipe. The piping will connect to the gutter downspout and divert water up to 25 feet away from your home. You can also bury the line for a cleaner appearance.

  • Peeling paint on your basement wall is a sure sign that you need to complete basement waterproofing. It will be important to determine the source of moisture which is leading to the peeling paint.

    Place a 12" x 12" section of foil on the basement wall and tape each side with duct tape. Leave it in place until moisture develops. This may take hours or even a few days. If you find moisture on the outside surface of the foil then the likely cause is condensation. If moisture is not visible on the outside of the foil, then seepage is the culprit.

  • In order to complete basement waterproofing caused by condensation, you should focus on sources inside the basement. Dryers are a key source of condensation. Be sure your dryer is properly vented. Ideally the dryer will be vented to the exterior. You can also employ a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the room. You can purchase a small portable dehumidifier or consider a larger whole house unit.

  • If water seepage into your basement is an occasional problem, the steps to complete the waterproofing will be less involved. Sealing the basement walls with waterproofing masonry sealer, followed by painting will usually do the job.

    Begin by cleaning the affected basement walls with a wire brush and a household cleaning solution. Remove as much debris and dirt as possible. A clean surface will allow the waterproofing sealer to better adhere to the walls.

    Waterproofing masonry sealers are sold at most hardware stores. The sealer is packaged in paint cans or buckets. These sealers have a thick consistency and can be messy, so be prepared. Apply the waterproofing sealer to the walls and be sure to entirely coat the surface. Be sure any mortar joints are coated. Apply the sealer using a paint roller. While this will work, you likely will also need to use a paint brush to fill in some bare areas.

    Allow the first coat of sealer to completely dry. You can then apply a second coat. Again, be sure the sealer coverage is even and complete.

    You can then paint over the masonry sealer for appearance purposes. Consider painting with a waterproof masonry paint. For best results, first apply a primer coat and then paint.

  • To complete basement waterproofing when your walls are cracked and aging, you should apply a concrete coating. This process will resurface and strengthen the masonry walls by adding a layer of concrete coating.

    Prior to applying the coating, you will need to seal and repair the small holes and cracks in your basement walls. The easiest method for sealing small holes and cracks is to fill them with latex masonry caulk.

    Begin by cleaning any loose debris from around the cracks or holes using a wire brush or chisel. Using a caulk gun, apply the masonry caulk into the crack or hole until it completely fills the area. Use a putty knife to smooth out the area. If a hole in your basement wall is larger than 1" deep, stuff a small piece of insulation into the hole to provide a foundation for the caulk.

  • Resurface the walls with the concrete coating. Check with your hardware store to see if they sell a premixed coating. If not, you can make your own by combining 1 part cement with 2 1/2 parts moist loose mortar sand. Then add water until it has the consistency of a stiff plaster.

    Scrub the walls with a cleaning solution and wire brush as outlined in step 5. Rinse the walls with a clean wet sponge. While the walls are still moist, apply a 1/4" thick coat of the concrete mixture to the walls using a trowel. Allow the walls to dry slightly. Then scratch the surface with the teeth on your paint roller cleaning tool. Wait 24 hours, and then apply a second coat. Wait another 24 hours, then mist the walls with water two times per day for three days.

    These steps will help you complete basement waterproofing and give you back some much needed space in your home. Not to mention improving the value of your property.

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