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How to Make a Basement Work on Wet Soil

Even if most would argue against basements in humid areas, there are ways to construct them safely. Here’s how you can make it work.

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It’s no secret that basements are popular all over the U.S. and Canada. A basement can give homeowners additional space for storage and living, and in case of a heavy storm, you can always go down and wait until the danger is over. 

Unfortunately, basements have their negatives too. They don’t work well in areas with humid climates like South Carolina. As such, most homeowners will overlook them during construction and settle for other options. The problem is that water-saturated soil will cause serious structural damage if you don’t invest during construction. 

Still, this doesn’t make them impossible in humid areas. If you use certain techniques to secure your basement from water-related damage, you can indeed enjoy all of its comforts. But this doesn’t only account for construction. You can repair an old wet basement and renovate it into a hobby or guest room that will suit all your needs. Here’s how. 

humid area basement

What’s So Great About Basements? 

Frankly, basements were always popular. If we go back in time, we can see that their primary purpose was for storage. Since they’re underground, people would store all sorts of things, including food and drinks. Their main advantage is that they don’t use extra space. They go down into the ground, unlike sheds and other additional structures on the property. 

Nowadays, you can use your basement for extra living space that’s both spacious and comfortable. Depending on your needs, you can renovate it into a guest room or hobby area. Also, basements can work as a safe room in case there’s a dangerous thunderstorm threatening you and your family. But what about the negatives? 

The Cons of Having a Basement 

Since basements are lower-grade structures, they’re likely to have trouble with water and surrounding soil. The main culprit for these problems is hydrostatic pressure. Since the rain has to go somewhere when it hits the ground on your property, it seeps down into the ground. Unfortunately, some types of soil can’t drain properly, and water slowly builds up. When it reaches a critical point, water begins to apply pressure on the soil, which in turn does the same to your basement walls. 

Hydrostatic pressure can cause cracks and fractures even in the strongest of materials. And since most use concrete for their substructures like basements, it eventually gives in. The water then penetrates your basement walls, causing all sorts of havoc. From mold infestation to flooding, you can count on losing sleep over your basement’s inability to prevent water-related damage. 

How Can I Get Around These Problems? 

If you’re certain you want a lower-grade level even if you’re constructing a home in a humid area, you can opt for a walkout basement. Aside from being popular in hilly areas, walkout basements can work in your situation too. It combines half the structure beneath the ground and the other half in open space. This is a plus since you can freely walk out to the yard. 

However, this isn’t your only option. You can still have a classic basement if you take care of some important factors during construction. These include drainage, soil grading, soil replacement, and proper waterproofing. Combining them together will allow you to fend off all problems water-saturated soil in a humid area can cause to your home and basement. 

Drainage 

First thing’s first—you must invest in drainage materials and systems. With drainage materials, you’ll be able to fend off hydrostatic pressure on your basement walls. Drainage will redirect the water from the saturated soil into the foundation drain. On the other hand, a proper drainage system will collect excess water before it can manage to build up in the ground. 

Soil Grading 

Your yard needs to have positive grading to minimize hydrostatic pressure on your basement walls. By this, we mean that your home needs to be on a higher level than the rest of the yard. If you don’t properly grade your yard before construction, the water will flood toward your structure. Grading is dirty work, but it will have a positive effect on your home if done properly. 

Soil Replacement 

In some cases, you might need to replace the soil on your lot for foundation purposes. Not every type of soil has good characteristics in load-bearing, durability, and drainage terms. Hence, you can replace it with another type that will suit your structure. That replacement is backfill soil. It comes in numerous types for you to choose from. 

Waterproofing 

None of the previous solutions will be effective if you don’t waterproof your basement properly. This way, you’ll be able to fend off flooding, mold, and all other dangers wet soil in humid areas has to offer. If you don’t apply high-quality waterproofing, your home will become an easy target for various structural problems. 

The best thing about this solution is that the construction team doesn’t need to excavate outside your basement perimeter. They can install an interior drainage system (jackhammer the floor during repairs). This system will intercept seeping water and redirect it to drain to a sump pump, which will eliminate it further so your basement doesn’t suffer. 

All You Need Is Professional Help 

Sometimes, homeowners and their construction crews will disregard some of the factors we’ve mentioned above. If this is the case with your home, you can always contact professional help at Mount Valley Foundation Services. Moreover, you can schedule a free inspection right now and our team in Columbia, South Carolina, will come down to your home in no time. With their help, you will be able to waterproof your basement properly and enjoy its space and comfort for years to come. 

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