Basement Leak And Waterproofing 101

There are few things that homeowners dread like finding moisture in the basement. Even if your basement has historically been dry, that doesn't mean that it will stay that way. Over time, even dry basements can end up developing moisture problems. If you've never had to deal with it, you may not fully understand the source of the problem or how to resolve it. Here is a look at the fundamentals of what causes leaky basements and what you can do about it.

What Causes Basement Leaks?

There are a number of things that can cause a leaky basement problem. In order to effectively resolve the moisture issue, you have to identify the source so you can address it properly. Some of the most common causes include:

Poorly draining soil: If the soil around the perimeter of your home isn't draining well, that can lead to water accumulating around the basement walls. As that water accumulates around the basement walls, gravity will begin pushing that water downward, and if it cannot drain into the soil, it will likely be forced into the basement instead.

Inadequate grading: Water seeks the path of least resistance, which means it will flow downhill, so that may mean that it ends up running up against the basement walls and seeping in. If the grade of the soil along your basement walls isn't sufficient to create a downhill slope away from the basement, that can contribute to water flowing toward, and ultimately into, your basement.

Cracked walls: As it ages and settles, concrete can be susceptible to cracking. If your basement walls are starting to develop cracks on the outside, water can seep into those cracks. Since concrete is naturally porous, that water will then gradually make its way into your basement.

How Can You Deal With Basement Leaks?

Once you have identified the cause of your leaky basement, you can begin to address the problem. In the case of drainage issues, you'll want to start by improving the drainage. If the soil is naturally dense, consider installing a French drain system around the perimeter of your home.

When it comes to grading issues, you will need to work with a contractor to improve the grading so that the soil level is higher near the basement walls and then gradually declines away from your home. That encourages water to flow away from the basement.

If you have cracks in your basement walls, those will need to be filled and sealed to prevent water flow through them. You can use a concrete patch mixture to seal this, or you can work with a concrete contractor to patch them.

Can You Prevent Basement Leaks?

If you want to take a proactive approach to protecting your basement, you can do so easily. After all, if you prevent water from getting into your basement, you prevent having to do emergency repairs or having to do mold and moisture abatement. There are a few ways that you can prevent moisture in your basement.

Waterproofing sealant: There are liquid sealants that can be applied to the interior of your basement walls. Applied much like paint, these products create a waterproof barrier on the inside walls of your basement. While this will keep the moisture from getting into your basement, it won't prevent exterior moisture damage to your basement walls. Since that moisture can cause structural weakening, you may want to take further waterproofing steps.

Exterior waterproofing membrane: An exterior waterproofing membrane is applied to the outside walls of your basement. It does mean having to dig some of the soil away from your basement walls, but you can use that opportunity to improve the grading of the soil when you put it back. Since it is applied to the outer walls, it prevents water and moisture from ever passing through to the walls at all.

Talk to a basement waterproofing contractor to learn more.