Basement Waterproofing with a Purpose: Simple Solutions When You Spot a Leak

Foundation Leak Repair

Basements tend to take on water since they’re built below grade. That can translate to the occasional puddle, moist walls, and mildew growth. In the worst-case scenario, that even means flooding.

Even when a basement is humid, the risk of damage to paint, wood, and stored items is significant.

Although builders take steps to ensure basement waterproofing occurs, houses settle, and walls can crack. Water seeps into these spaces to start creating problems.

A simple solution is to use a dehumidifier to control the environment, but the best option to prevent damage is to do some waterproofing.

How to Waterproof Your Basement Quickly

The first step in the waterproofing process is to identify problem areas. If you have a concrete foundation, that often looks like cracks or places where the surface sparkles.

Once you’ve identified problem areas, the following steps are taken.

1. Clean Everything

Start the waterproofing process by using warm water and a scrub brush to remove any dirt, dust, and debris from the basement walls. If efflorescence is present, it’ll also need to be cleaned before proceeding with the project.

After scrubbing the walls with plain water, go over them a second time with a grease-cutting agent. Add a little oxygen bleach to the mix if you see mold or mildew.

2. Use Hydraulic Cement

When you see cracks form, it’s often in weak spots from the building process. The combination of the soil’s lateral pressure with settling and shifting creates problem areas where cracks develop. Use hydraulic cement to repair the issue.

Hydraulic cement contains additives that cause the product to expand and rapidly set. After following the mixing instructions, you can press the material into each crack with a putty knife or a gloved finger. It pushes deep into the gap to form a watertight bond as it expands.

It sets in three minutes, so only mix what you can use during that time.

This product works well for plugging any holes that might be in your concrete. Mix the product with a little water according to the label instructions.

3. Window Drainage Systems

A common source of basement leaks involves the required window wells.

If the drainage system isn’t working as intended, you’ll see water pooling around your basement windows. Although installing new drainage isn’t a DIY job for most people, you can make some adjustments. Try digging about 24 inches lower in the problem area, then fill the space with gravel to help it drain.

It helps to caulk around the affected window with a masonry-compatible product. Some homeowners might consider installing a sloped well cover.

4. Seal the Concrete Walls

If you see water soaking through the basement walls, which causes them to stay wet, you can seal the interior with waterproof paint.

Several brands make suitable products for homeowners today. The best option is a premixed item that applies like any other paint. You can roll or brush it on the affected area with a thick coat that fills the surface holes.

Allow the first coat to dry before applying a second one. A five-gallon container provides about 500 square feet of coverage.

5. Seal the Cracks

If you don’t have wide cracks in your basement foundation, an epoxy injection system can deliver waterproofing benefits. This option works for hairline fractures of 1/16-inch or greater.

You’ll install plastic injection ports along the crack. Most systems need one for every 12 inches you plan to seal. Once they are in place, use a putty knife to spread the sealer along the repair area, including the port bases. Wait for it to cure, then squeeze epoxy into each port to have it flow deep into the crack.

6. Mitigation Steps

The best solution to basement waterproofing is to remove the water source whenever possible. If you have plants or gardens near the foundation that require watering, you’re putting moisture right next to your basement. That encourages seepage.

It might be necessary to repair downspouts and gutters to ensure the moisture gets directed away from the home.

If these steps don’t prevent water from moving toward your basement, it might be necessary to have a professional evaluation of your property. It’s a good idea to have a 2% slope away from the foundation.

When you’re proactive about basement waterproofing, you can stop moisture before it creates a bigger problem for your home. If you encounter a situation that is beyond your DIY skills, call a trusted professional contractor to inspect the issue and provide an accurate quote.