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How do I Choose the Best Basement Waterproofing Systems?

Carol Francois
Carol Francois

There are three different types of basement waterproofing systems available. The appropriate system depends on a range of factors, including the age of the building, type of water that forms the primary issue, nearby development, and local soil conditions. A basement is created when the foundation of a building is turned into a usable space. It is very common in residential structures located in cold climates, and not typically found in warmer climates, or places where there are limitations to how deep the builder can dig the foundation.

An interior sealant is a chemical preparation applied to the masonry or concrete walls of the basement from inside the usable space. This one type of basement waterproofing systems is ideal in locations where the primary concern is one of humidity. Persistent humidity in a concrete basement will result in wet walls that sweat and degrade the concrete, fostering the growth of mold.

Waterproofing can prevent a basement floor from cracking.
Waterproofing can prevent a basement floor from cracking.

If the primary issue is one of water actually entering the basement through the foundation walls, then there are two options: interior or exterior water drainage. Interior basement waterproofing systems are less expensive than exterior solutions, as there is no need to dig up the ground surrounding the entire structure. Many people explore the interior method first, and then may install an exterior solution if that method produces results that are unacceptable over the long term.

Sump pumps remove water, but need electrical power.
Sump pumps remove water, but need electrical power.

With interior basement waterproofing systems, the underground water is drained from the area of the foundation footers and underneath the floor. This can be done through either a direct pipe or a trench that collects the water before it reaches the home. This water is pulled up with the use of a sump pump system. The pump is typically electrically powered and can be designed to work only when water reaches a specific level or when there is any water at all. The cost and level of complexity of this type of solution varies widely, from a simple installation to a professional contractor job.

Basements can use drainage systems with sump pumps to remove excess water.
Basements can use drainage systems with sump pumps to remove excess water.

It is important to note that the type of system you require depends on the likelihood of flooding, torrential rain, snow thawing, or other weather issue that can cause a sudden influx of water. These systems should be powered by a generator or on an emergency power system, as power supply is often interrupted during large storms. Exterior basement waterproofing is typically part of the initial construction of the residence. The International Building Code (IBC) only recognizes exterior waterproofing as sufficient to prevent water intrusion. The current process uses chemical, asphalt or tar-based compounds to completely waterproof the foundation wall on the exterior.

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Discussion Comments

anon342853

Thanks for sharing this article. It has really been a helpful read. I've never thought about getting really involved with basement waterproofing. A new friend I made out here has been recommending I do it, and I guess it would be for the best.

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    • Waterproofing can prevent a basement floor from cracking.
      Waterproofing can prevent a basement floor from cracking.
    • Sump pumps remove water, but need electrical power.
      By: Tim Glass
      Sump pumps remove water, but need electrical power.
    • Basements can use drainage systems with sump pumps to remove excess water.
      By: oocoskun
      Basements can use drainage systems with sump pumps to remove excess water.
    • Constant humidity in a concrete basement is a recipe for mold growth.
      By: Mushy
      Constant humidity in a concrete basement is a recipe for mold growth.