Basement Waterproofing: 11 Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

basement with water infiltration problems

Whether you use your basement for storage, living, or anything else, keeping your belongings safe is a consideration for any homeowner. Basements are unfortunately prone to flooding and moisture problems since they’re constantly exposed to groundwater. Seeping water in basements is more than just annoying; it’s a hazard that promotes mold growth and potential damage to the structure of your house and your belongings. Proactively preventing water damage through effective basement waterproofing goes a long way to saving on costs and frustration later down the line.

Here are 11 of the most important tips and tools for any homeowner interested in basement waterproofing.

1. Inspecting the basement

The first step when it comes to basement waterproofing is understanding where your problem is coming from. This is especially true if you’re considering a potential basement renovation. Usually, it’s the pressure of rainwater that causes water infiltration. So you might have to run different tests outside your house to understand if the humidity is caused by poor drainage. Then, inspect your basement carefully for signs of seeping water. Common spots include pipelines, water intakes, and around windows. Most important, look for cracks along the bottom of the walls. They are one of the most common signs of basement humidity. Some tips here are going to help you control the humidity, but the problem must be solved at the source for a long term solution.

2. Installing a Dehumidifier to Fight Condensation

One common issue that many homeowners experience is basement humidity. This problem is caused by underground condensation that creates excessive moisture in your home. Dehumidifiers are a great option for controlling humidity in your basement. You can get a hygrometer from any regular hardware store to check humidity levels beforehand. If a dehumidifier seems to be a necessary investment, don’t forget to read up on how to maintain it properly down the line. Manufacturers provide their own instructions for doing so.

dehumidifier basement

3. Seal Cracked Areas

You may see cracks on your foundation. Some cracks are considered normal, like small hairlines cracks, but others have to be taken care of to prevent water infiltration, excessive moisture, or even radon gas. A quarter-inch wide crack is wide enough to raise concern. To determine which method to use to repair the cracks, you have to understand what causes them. There are two types of cracks: static and moving. Static cracks are the result of the foundation settling or moving slightly through the years. Moving cracks are often caused by the soil surrounding the house and not so much the foundation itself. It’s normal for an older home to have some static cracks but they should still be addressed to prevent mold, leakage, or any other problem. Significant cracks or horizontal ones must be evaluated by a professional to determine the scope of repair work.

In general, minor cracks can be repaired by injecting epoxy and sealant by the homeowner himself. These waterproof coatings, which often come with warranties, are effective against leaks, condensation, and potential flooding.

foundation cracks

4. Using Waterproof Paint for General Coverage

While sealants work well to prevent leaking, a layer of waterproof paint can act as a vapor barrier. Specifically, you want to use waterproof paint for cement or cinder block walls. Like its name entails, this kind of paint contains product that provides a water tight coating and prevents water infiltration. It works best when applied to a fresh, clean wall that doesn’t already have some sort of coating on it. However, it’s important to note that this solution shouldn’t be the only solution you opt for if you do face major water infiltration issues.

5. Reinforcing Soil Grading to Channel Away Water

Grading refers to the slope of the ground outside your foundation. A slope that falls away from your home allows water to flow away from your basement and help avoid water infiltration problems. Newly-constructed houses have strong sloping, but this structure can wear away with time and regular construction or landscaping by the homeowner. It’s worth adding extra dirt to reinforce your grading, though extensive repairs will occasionally be required.

slop drainage

6. Double Down on Drainage

If your neighborhood includes homes that are close to each other, soil grading may not be a viable option.

A more expensive but effective solution is a foundation drain system built into the yard. Many homeowners are using plastic drain tubing to redirect water underground. However, the French drain, also called weeping tile, system must be installed by experts in order to correctly solve the water accumulation problem. Even the location of landscaping elements like shrubs and trees can impact water drainage.

fren drain installation

7. Installing a Sump Pump to Prevent Internal Pooling

Once water makes its way into your basement, it’s the job of the sump pump to get it out. This basement waterproofing option is great to have, but more of a counteractive solution rather than a preventive one. It essentially kicks in when your foundation drain (weeping tile) hasn’t done an adequate job at keeping water away.

Keep in mind that sump pumps do need regular maintenance to prevent blockages, and a backup pump may be worth considering if you live in an area prone to flooding.

sump pump in basement

8. Addressing Window Wells

As the name suggests, window wells are dedicated spaces to collect pools of water underneath windows. This water can find its way into your basement and cause problems.

Window drainage isn’t an easy task for many homeowners, though a common tactic is to dig out the area underneath a window and apply a layer of gravel for drainage. These window wells must be rid of debris every season. You can also install a window well cover (which is essentially a metal grate) and re-caulk your windows for optimal results.

window wells

9. Cleaning Out Gutters

Rain gutters solve the issue of rainwater collecting on your roof. Remember to clean them out to stop debris from causing overflows. A poorly-maintained gutter can pour water into cracks in the foundation concrete and result in basement flooding.

If your home receives roof inspections around the Autumn season, use the opportunity to clear out leaves, twigs, and even animal nests in your gutters. Small seasonal maintenance like this might help prevent problems and avoid major basement waterproofing job.

house gutters

10. Lengthening Downspouts for More Effective Water Channeling

Where does the water in a gutter eventually go? A downspout works alongside the gutter: it collects the water and disperses it onto the ground far away from the house.

Downspouts are essential for preventing pooling around your home. Consider extending your downspouts by several feet, as they become more effective the farther away the water flows from your basement walls.

long Downspouts

11. Reorienting Sprinkler Systems

This one may seem odd, but poorly-placed garden sprinklers can contribute to basement waterproofing problems. Ensure that they aren’t spraying water directly at your house.

While they won’t be the sole cause of basement leaks, sprinklers can certainly aggravate the issue.

house sprinkler

RenoAssistance: Find Top Basement Contractors in Your Area

Are you looking for a basement contractor? Finding a reputable contractor is essential if you want to eliminate potential water damage before it worsens. But with dozens of service providers in your area, how do you know who you can trust?

RenoAssistance can help you find the best decontamination contractors, basement contractors or French drain contractors in your area. Maintain total peace of mind with our Verification system. We collect data on the most trusted contractors in your area.

Connect with a RenoAssistance agent to receive up to three quotes from reputable contractors. Your renovation Advisor will guide you through the entire process and take care of any questions or concerns you have, so you can start your basement project with confidence.