How to waterproof a basement? That has been an interesting question for people who experience flooded basements frequently. Before talking about waterproofing a basement, you need to know what causes your basement to flood. The reason why this is so important is that water still tends to leak from unexpected places even after waterproofing. So it’s better to make sure that you get all your underground water pipes checked before starting a project like this. Given that the materials used to waterproof your basement will cost quite a lot, it’s better to get such leaks and cracks checked beforehand.
Now that you’ve finally dealt with all the leaks and cracks that caused you all that trouble, it’s time to understand how waterproofing works. As the name suggests, waterproofing refers to the sealing of small cracks in your walls that allow water to enter. In this particular case, you’re going to learn about waterproofing a basement. Do be patient as it’s a lengthy process and requires a little mental effort to understand. However, by the end of this article, you’ll know the logistics of waterproofing a basement.
Now, what’s the best way to plan this project? As you read above, the first step is to inspect the pipes in your basement first carefully. You are checking your lines for any leaks and damages before the project will ensure that your walls are completely sealed and won’t get damaged in the future. If you cannot identify any leaks or cracks, don’t rush into the project. It would be better to call a plumber first and ask him to identify any damaged pipes. As these people are more qualified to handle such equipment, they can quickly pinpoint damaged pipes even if they don’t seem damaged to you.
Are There Leakages In Your Basement? If So, What Causes Them?
Without a doubt, it’s often the case that leaked water pipes cause your basement to flood. However, you should know that water pipes aren’t the only contributing factor. Water leaks can be caused due to several other reasons.
Some of the major contributing factors are given below.
- Incorrect positioning of downspouts: For those of you who don’t know. The primary function of downspouts is to move water away from your foundation and premises. Your downspouts should be at a distance of least five to seven feet from your basement. In case your downspouts are improperly positioned, it is highly likely that the water will start to pile up around the house and gradually seep directly into your basement.
- Extreme temperature: Due to severe weather, pipes in your basement can often overheat and, as a result, can get small cracks. Similarly, cold temperatures can also cause your pipes to crack.
- Old pipes: Very rarely people get their house pipes changed after the first installation. An average iron pipe can last for about 10-12 years before it completely corrodes or breaks. That causes the pipes in your basement to get covered with rust and, as a result, start to leak. Nowadays, due to advancements in modern technology, people are using PVC pipes in their homes. They’re long-lasting and don’t break easily.
Is Waterproofing A Basement A Feasible Option?
When it comes to waterproofing a basement, you might ask yourself, “is it even possible”? Well, the answer is yes! Over the years, many people have gotten their basements waterproofed and were quite satisfied with the results. However, keep in mind that the cost of waterproofing will vary based on how big your basement is. Secondly, the materials you use will have an impact on the quality of the job done.
You can go through the two materials or coats given below that are most commonly used for interior waterproofing.
- Concrete coat: When we talk about concrete coating, we refer to sealing the walls with a cement-like substance. As soon as the concrete dries up, the mixture will be fixed in place. However, it’s important to note that water can still pass through the walls if there are any leakages. Waterproofing will help in avoiding an extreme flood.
- Silicate coat: Silicate coating works as an extra layer. The process of applying this coat is very straight forward. All you have to do is use the silicate coating to the concrete wall, and the chemicals will merge with the concrete mixture. That will make your wall much more robust and durable.
What Are The Associated Costs Of Waterproofing A Basement?
As mentioned above, the costs of waterproofing a basement will depend on how big your basement is. On average, homeowners in the US typically spend about $2000-$4500 on waterproofing. Again, the figures above will vary if you decide to use much more expensive materials for the job. You might also have to pay a much heftier amount if you have to get gutters and pipes repaired. On average, plumbers can charge around $5000-$10,000 depending on what all has to be repaired.
What’s The Best Way to Waterproof Your Basement Walls?
Waterproofing your walls can be a lengthy process and will take quite a bit of effort. If you’re working with a team, you’ll get the job done much faster. However, if you’re working alone, you’ll have to be patient during the whole process. Remember that rushing such a project will only cause more harm than good.
So without further ado, given below is a six-step process that will help waterproof your walls.
- Digging around the basement: To waterproof the walls, explore the basement’s outer perimeter until you reach the foundation’s bottom. That is not an easy task, so you’ll have to be prepared to work on the basement’s outer walls. Waterproofing doesn’t just keep water out of your basement; it protects your pipes, paintwork, and insulation from water damage. After digging, you can install perforated pipes, crushed or gravel stone drains, drainage tiles, or any other waterproofing material or drainage system that works for you.
- Block the cracks: After digging the soils, clear the outer walls. Then check if there are holes or cracks where water can be seeping in. It means checking for porous areas, spots, or hairline cracks in the inner and outer walls. To fix the hole problem, applying a coat of hydraulic cement is a great option. Hydraulic cement is capable of expanding and filling the cracks effectively.
- Apply a cement-based sealant: The next step involves applying a cement-based sealant to the exterior basement wall. Cement-based bonds work well for concrete or rock surfaces. Cement-based adhesives get hard immediately and will cover the pores of the concrete surface. A sealant would finish the job if a hole or a crack was not appropriately fixed with hydraulic cement.
- Install a waterproof membrane: Next, you can spray or trowel a waterproofing membrane—for example, an asphalt-modified polyurethane material—on the outside wall of the basement. This membrane is explicitly designed to act as a vapor membrane. These membranes are capable of moving and flexing to protect the wall in case of new cracks.
- Install a drainage system and a dimple mat: A dimple mat is a sheet of thick plastic (high-density polyethylene)—made with molded dimples. It is used for creating air spaces between the wall and itself. With a dimple mat, the concrete is protected as water flows away from the basement wall.
- Consider using a footing drain: Note that a dimple mat needs to be installed with a drainage system: a footing drain, for example. A footing drain, which is a perforated 4-inch pipe, can be used to direct the water away. The footing drain should be installed below the basement floor, and the hole should be backfilled with gravel. Backfilling means refilling the excavated hole around the foundation. It strengthens and supports the building’s foundation as well as improving water drainage. Stone is perfect for backfilling because it is durable and allows for proper drainage.
Is Waterproofing Your Floor Necessary? If So, How Should You Do It
Now that you know how to waterproof basement walls, you should waterproof your floor as well. Sometimes cracks form underneath floors, which can also cause your basement to flood. Therefore, it’s better to get this done to avoid any mishaps in the future.
The six-step process given below will give you guidance on how you can waterproof an average brick floor.
- Crack the grout lines: You can only remove the basement brick flooring when you are sure a vapor barrier wasn’t installed beneath the brick during construction. To remove the brick, use a grout saw to weaken the grout lines (thin mortar between the bricks) around each brick. A rubber mallet and a screwdriver can help break the grout line too.
- Take out the bricks: After removing the grout, insert a putty knife into the space to loosen the brick. Then gently insert a pry bar into the gap to lift each brick out. Don’t damage the edges or surface of the bricks if you are planning to reuse them.
- Install a vapor barrier or dry gravel: The surface underneath the brick will determine your next action course. For concrete surfaces, begin by directly installing a vapor barrier on the slab. It is packed soil beneath; use dry gravel as your natural vapor barrier (two inches of gravel, at least).
- Excavate soil to prevent the subsequent reduction of room height: Only do this if you have a professional engineer’s permission so you won’t damage your building’s foundation.
- Use polystyrene board and poly sheet: To create an even surface over the gravel, use a polystyrene board (one-inch thick) and tape the joints. Next, install a 5 mm poly sheet to the board surface. Use a seam sealing tape to affix those joints too. This way, you are creating a vapor barrier.
- Use concrete: After installing your vapor barrier, pour a thin slab of self-leveling concrete on it. That creates a smooth placement surface for each brick. Then you can start installing your bricks.
Conclusively, waterproofing your basement is an effective way to avoid a flood. It’s a costly project; however, it will be a worthwhile investment. In case you decide to undergo such a task yourself, make sure you do it the right way; otherwise, things can go sideways.
In addition, once you know how to waterproof your basement, you’ll still need a few waterproofing products to get the job done perfectly and efficiently. There are several waterproofing products available on the market today, which you can easily access online or by visiting an appliance shop. These products will especially come in handy when you’ll be carrying out such a job yourself. You’ll be able to save time and a whole lot of effort.
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