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There’s no getting around it. Water has been a problem in basements ever since the first basement was built. This isn’t surprising when you consider that all masonry materials (poured concrete, brick, concrete block and mortar) absorb and release moisture. When the soil is saturated with water, your basement walls and floor slab become saturated too.
At the same time, hydrostatic pressure pushes water through small gaps and cracks. Small leaks and seepage are multiplied across the major square footage of your basement walls and floors, and this water intrusion continues 24 hours a day. The result: a wet basement.
If your house has a wet basement, don’t worry. There are proven techniques for eliminating basement water problems and making this part of your house safe, clean, dry, usable and even attractive as added living space. But instead of taking your chances with various waterproofing strategies from different contractors, get the facts first. Here’s some important information about basement waterproofing that will help you spend your waterproofing money wisely.
Exterior treatments are expensive. Some contractors try to convince homeowners that the best way to keep water out of the basement is to excavate around the basement exterior so that a new drainage system can be installed and waterproof coatings or membranes can be applied. This approach can cost tens of thousands of dollars, while making a mess of your yard and damaging plants, pathways, patios and other outdoor features. Even after all this work and expense, water can still find it’s way into your basement through gaps and cracks, including the major crack that runs around your basement between the wall and the concrete floor.
Paint-on interior coatings eventually fail. It would be great if you could waterproof your basement by applying a special coating on basement walls. These expensive specialized finishes can actually stop large sections of basement walls from leaking. But holding back a huge volume of water puts this thin coating under tremendous and continuous hydrostatic pressure. As a result, the coating typically starts to fail near the base of the wall where the pressure is greatest.
An active drainage system is the most effective way to keep the basement dry. Instead of trying to hold back tons of water 24/7, why not relieve the hydrostatic pressure and direct the water to a central collection point so it can be pumped up and out of the basement? This active drainage strategy captures water at the critical juncture between the basement wall and the floor (where most leakage occurs anyway), and transports the water to a high-performance sump pump that automatically discharges the water when it reaches a predetermined level in the sump pit.
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