How to build a waterproof basement
Standing water in someone’s basement is considered to be the number one cause of homeowner heartbreak. Take action now to ensure that your basement stays dry when storm clouds roll-in. Here are several steps on how to build a waterproof basement and prevent troubles in the first place.
CREATE A SLOPE AWAY FROM YOUR FOUNDATION
Adding dirt to your home’s foundation is crucial in creating a slope away from the base. Unfortunately, too many homeowners fail to maintain the soil to slope away from their home. The water can then pool up next to the foundation and flow back towards the house.
Backfilled dirt around the foundation will typically settle lower than the surrounding dirt and cause the ground to sink in and slope towards your house. Add soil up against the foundation to create a drop of at least 2 inches high for every foot away from the foundation. Ensure that the top of the dirt is at least 6 inches below the sill plate, which is the bottom horizontal piece of the building. Proper mounding will ensure that no ground contact promotes the rot of building materials.
Start by mounding dirt within a foot of the foundation, taking care to ensure that it’s always 6 inches below the sill plate. From here, move outward in one-foot increments until you create a slope of 2 inches for every foot. An experienced landscaper can help you design a solution that ensures that the drainage is adequate while enhancing the look of your home.
GUTTERS AND DOWNSPOUTS
Clean your gutters thoroughly and check that your downspouts are working. If your home doesn’t have gutters, consider installing some yourself or hiring a reputable contractor to do so. This step is essential to ensure that water flows away from your home.
Always clean your gutters a minimum of two times a year—once in spring and once in fall. First, start at the downspout and use a garden trowel or your hands to remove large chunks of dirt and debris. Next, work horizontally from your ladder and move down the gutter.
In addition, be sure that the downspouts discharge water a minimum of five feet away from the foundation of your home.
MANAGE THE PLANTS AROUND YOUR FOUNDATION
Remove all plants that are fewer than 12 inches (30 cm) from the foundation. Watch out for any shrubs and other plants that are too close to your foundation. Rotted roots will create a channel for surface water to flow towards to your foundation. Use a shovel to dig in a circle around the root ball of each plant. It is critical that you cut through as many roots as you can! Afterward, insert the shovel underneath the roots as far as possible and lever the plant out of the soil. Remove as many of the dead roots as possible to prevent regrowth.
When you plant anything new, always try to plant them in cooperation with the slope around your home. Use them to direct water away from your foundation. Your landscaping should never undermine your foundation and its integrity.
A basement with uncoated walls and floors is a flooding problem that is waiting to happen. No matter the age or condition of your home, an intelligent homeowner needs to take steps to ensure that their structure is water-tight. This action will prevent everything from standing water accumulation, mold and mildew up to significant structural damage.
APPLYING CONCRETE SEALER
We think of concrete as one of the most robust building materials in use today. Yet, age, time, and water are all foes of the mighty concrete. By sealing your concrete every 2-5 years, as recommended by experts, you should keep your floor in good shape, preventing cracks, pitting, and additional damage. Make a plan to apply a concrete sealer before considering refinishing your basement to avoid making a mess out of a finished living area.
While this is a project many homeowners can do a satisfactory job early on, consulting waterproofing experts is necessary for more comprehensive repairs. These contractor’s experience, tools, and time make it a worthwhile option to invest in them.
If you don’t remove any salt and lime deposits from your basement walls, you will continue the vicious cycle of repairs. Salt and lime accumulations are the most common reason concerete sealer fails. Douse a damp rag with muriatic acid and deck scrub the walls thoroughly. Then, rinse the area very liberally with a garden hose, then use a wet/dry vacuum to get remaining moisture off the floor. Proper coverage will generally take several applications.
You will see the muriatic acid react with the deposits on your wall. Always wear gloves when handling muriatic acid. If you get any on your skin, rinse it off with water immediately.
All concrete sealers can improve water resistance, although some products are better for this purpose than others. Stick with sealers that state they are penetrating and impregnating for best results. Thin, even coats of sealer are superior to a thick one-time swipe. After applying the first coat, wait two hours or more before starting the second coat. Refer to your specific sealant for drying times. Don’t use a roller any thicker than 3⁄8 inch, or your application of a sealant will be too heavy.
MONITOR YOUR SUMP PUMP
The purpose of a sump pump is to remove standing water that accumulates in a sump basin. The basin is found in a basement trench that slopes downward. When water flows in the trench, it moves via the basin through a pipe extending from the top of the basin to the outside of your home. From here, it travels down the slope and away from your home. The life of the sump pump all depends on how frequently it runs. Once a month, homeowners should open the cover and monitor if the float is free and if the pump runs a complete cycle or not.