Waterproof Your Leaky Basement

Newly constructed homes have few dampness and moisture problems in their basements. That is great news for the two percent of homeowners living in such homes. For the 98 percent of us living in old homes, constantly damp basements is an ongoing problem on par with fighting weeds, visiting in-laws, and keeping our gutters clean.

Mercifully, there are some simple steps which any homeowner can take which will go a long way to alleviating problems of dampness in your basement.

Whether you have water leaking from a crack in a wall, from sweating pipes or no visible signs of water, the reality is that water vapor is continually being forced up from below your basement. When water vapor comes into contact with any cool surface, whether exterior basement walls or pipes or basement windows and frames, it quickly causes condensation and dampness.

For those homeowners with concrete basement floors, there are a number of steps, taken together, which will reduce the moisture in your basement.

First, and most important, is to find and eliminate any visible leakage. These include either cracks in walls or water seeping up through the floor. While there are various waterproofing compounds available, professionals only use hydraulic cement or concrete patching compound.

These compounds must be applied when the area with the leak has been dry for a short period. Concrete patching compound can only be used on a damp area where no water ever flows. The other patching product, hydraulic cement, is designed to fill cracks in the wall or floor which allow water to enter the basement.

After applying the compound or cement, an additional waterproofing compound may be applied which can be sanded for finishing. Remember to purchase a waterproofer, not a sealer. A sealer is designed to protect the wall or floor from surface moisture. A waterproofing compound will prevent water from traveling through floors or walls.

Also, it is important to clear the area you will patch of all residual paint or other coatings. This will help to assure the firmest adhesion of the new concrete or compound.

It is very important before spending money on repairs that you check the exterior of your home for moisture problems near the foundation. As you have heard before, gutters are the most common reason for water seeping into the foundation. The gutter’s leader drain, where the water exits from your roof to the ground, must be extended to flow far from your foundation. Also, if water is not flowing due to clogged gutters, rainwater will overflow from the gutters directly onto the point where the house meets the surrounding ground.

The easiest way to determine how your gutters are functioning is to stand outside during a heavy rain and examine your entire gutter system. You will quickly be able to observe whether it is operating properly.

While you are outside in the rain, check the grading of the land along your house. If puddles are forming, it indicates there is a low point which does not allow water to flow away from the house. It is very important to build this area up by compacting dirt along the home to easily prevent water from draining into the foundation.

Unfortunately, vegetation planted too close to the house is another problem. Often, this vegetation holds water in the ground and this water eventually finds its way into your home. And remember, even if you do not have a leak, any water collecting near the house increases the water vapor which will seek entry into your basement.

If your home basement allows significant amounts of water to leak in, you may need professional help. Among your options, you may need either interior or exterior drainage to be installed. However, this is an expensive solution. Another option may be to have cracks in walls repaired from both the interior and exterior. If you decide to seek professional help, be sure to receive a number of price quotes and explanations of what will be done. Also, many reputable companies now offer warranties on their work.

Another source of dampness is condensation. Eliminating condensation on sweating pipes is very important to having a dry basement. However, it is important to note that not every pipe in the basement needs to be wrapped. For instance, those pipes inside a drop ceiling do not need to be wrapped. You can check all basement pipes to see if they are sweating and then determine if they need wrapping.

In purchasing wrapping material for your pipes you have two choices: the right and the wrong materials. The wrong wrapping material is fiberglass with plastic vapor barriers. Not only is it difficult to use, but the fiberglass will absorb water, thus increasing the humidity in your basement.

Experts agree that the correct wrapping material is plastic foam pipe wrap. It can be purchased in various lengths and is easy to cut with a scissors or utility knife. Make sure the corners meet as closely as possible and wrap all seams with duct tape.

Another simple step to help in eliminating dampness in a basement is running a dehumidifier. Using a dehumidifier will not solve your moisture problems by itself. However, used in conjunction with other repairs in your basement, may provide significant drying.

Basement leaks have always been difficult to repair. However, getting the right advice and using the recommended materials will put you on the road to drying out your basement.

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