A waterproofing system for basements is critical and very complicated. They should always be installed by experienced experts who know what the situation calls for and have the skill to handle it properly. However, you, as a homeowner, should be informed about basement waterproofing, the possible scenarios, and the consequences of ignoring the problem.
Know the Signs
There are obvious as well as subtle signs that you may have a water problem in your basement. First, there may be water spots or rust streaks. You should also look for crumbling concrete or cracks. Mold and mildew are good indications of a leak as well. Of course, water puddles on the floor are obvious proof that there’s a problem. A subtler sign is condensation on surfaces and walls. You may not even notice it at first, but try running your hand along these areas. If it feels wet, it’s time to call a professional.
Every Situation is Unique
If you have a leak or water damage in your basement, it will return if not properly addressed. A wet vac and some water sealant on the walls won’t be a permanent fix. That said, every situation is unique. Only a professional can tell you exactly what your home needs to be truly waterproof.
There are some constants, however. Any basement with water issues needs proper drainage and a system to prevent water from entering in the first place.
Drainage is absolutely vital for a water-plagued basement. After all, the water has to have somewhere to go. Even a small amount of water can cause major damage over time, so drainage needs to be efficient. It also needs to move the water far away from your home to avoid damaging the foundation. Simply shifting water to the ground under your foundation won’t do.
The usual answer to this is a French drain. These drains are located in the interior of your basement and funnel water well away from your foundation. There are several styles and brands available, but most are used in conjunction with a sump pump.
Inside and Out
An interior waterproofing system for basements is referred to as the “negative side,” because you’re moving the water out. Other than a pump and drainage, as mentioned above, interior measures usually consist of some type of moisture barrier to keep water out once it has drained. Dehumidifiers are also used to remove excess water vapor that can condense on walls and surfaces and cause damage.
The exterior, or the “positive side,” systems consist of excavating around the outside of your home, down to the foundation level. Proper drainage is installed, and the foundation is treated with waterproofing to keep water out of your walls in the first place.
Consequences Can Be Dire
Remember—ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. You should call a professional at the first suspicion of water damage or the presence of water in your basement. The consequences of inaction can include the formation of health-endangering mold, costly damage to your walls and foundation, and loss of home value.