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Basement Waterproofing: How It Works

What does the client's process of waterproofing a basement look like? What kind of work/time table should consumers expect?

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Wet Basement Symptoms to Look out for

Standing puddles aren’t the only symptoms of a leaking basement. If you suspect your home is attracting water, keep an eye out for the following: 

  • Increased levels of humidity – As water makes its way into your home, it’ll start to wreak havoc on your ability to maintain the atmosphere in your home. If the water doesn’t have anywhere to go, it’ll settle in the air and raise the overall levels of humidity in your home. If your hair starts to frizz, then, when you go downstairs, you might want to start checking for a leak.
  • Cooler temperature – The more dampness gathers in your basement, the cooler the air is going to grow. You may also notice your heating bill starting to rise if your basement is leaking. That’s because dampness in the air makes it more difficult for you to control the temperature of your home.
  • Fogging windows – On the other hand, heating your basement may reveal a leak. The warmer the air gets, the more likely it is that any dampness in your walls or floor will turn into water vapor. In turn, this water vapor will likely start to fog any gutter windows leading outdoors. The same thing happens when you wash your clothes, but in this circumstance, it’s much less beneficial.
  • Warping door frames – The longer you let a leak fester in your basement, the more damage it’s going to do to the structure of your home. With that in mind, keep an eye on your door frames. If you start having trouble getting a door open, the door frame may have warped as a result of prolonged exposure to water.
  • Damaged belongings or materials – In a similar vein, any belongings you’ve stored in your basement may suffer damage if they’re exposed to a leak. If your old furniture starts to rot, your papers start to warp, or holes start to appear in your belongings, you may be facing down a severe leak.
  • MoldMold particles love a damp climate. You may start noticing mold clusters growing in your basement if you let a leak go unattended for an extended period of time. In these situations, make sure you remove the mold from your home as soon as possible, as it may have a negative impact on your health if left unattended.
  • Bad smells – Your basement may also cultivate a nasty smell if you’ve left a leak for too long. The dampness, partnered with any damage done to porous materials in your home and potential mold clusters, will make the whole of your basement smell rotten. However, this is one of the most obvious signs (beyond standing puddles of water) that your basement is leaking.

Drying out your Basement

If you want to waterproof your home from the inside, your solutions include:

  • French Drains – These drains gather the water that would otherwise settle in your home and redirect it back outdoors. A cousin to the sump pump, French drains are not automatically installed with a storage unit in which the redirected water can rest. However, you can talk to the contractor you bring onto your waterproofing project to see if it would be possible to install both waterproofing elements. Do note, though, that French drains are a temporary solution to long-term or severe basement leaks.
  • Drainage Mats – Another temporary solution, drainage mats work well in small basements or crawl spaces. These mats prevent dampness and other leaks from reaching your belongings by serving as a barrier between the two.
  • Sealants – Sealants are also temporary solutions to long-term leaks and floods. However, they tend to last for a year or two at a time after they’ve been applied. You can talk to your contractor about the different kinds of sealants available to you during the waterproofing process.
  • Dehumidifiers Dehumidifiers work to remove excess dampness from your basement. Another temporary solution to basement flooding, you’ll need to empty your conventional dehumidifiers yourself for them to continue operating as they’re supposed to. Your contractor may have a self-draining option that can be installed. However, these tools serve as excellent solutions to minor leaks or dampness.

Exterior Waterproofing: The Process

Waterproofing your home from the outside tends to help you quell more severe leaks. The process typically takes between two days and a week, depending on the size of your home and the nature of waterproofing you’re interested in. In general, though, contractors will take the following steps to secure your home:

  • Excavate the earth around the exterior foundation walls of your home, looking for leak sources as they go.
  • Check over your foundation for signs of extensive or concerning damage.
  • Seal off your walls and foundation.
  • Optionally install drainage mats as a secondary form of waterproofing.
  • Optionally install a French drain, sump pump or a combination thereof to further waterproof your home.
  • Install or re-direct downspout conductor lines to keep water away from the foundation.

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