Basement waterproofing is crucial to protecting your health as well as the integrity of the foundations supporting your house or building. Without waterproofing systems tailored to your environment, your below ground structure risks becoming waterlogged and prone to developing toxic mould and structural damage that is very costly and stressful to repair. In this article we will explore what causes moisture accumulation in basements and what remedial basement waterproofing methods are available to you.
Where does basement moisture come from?
The sources of basement moisture will essentially arise from:
- Exterior Liquid Water - Rain or groundwater making its way into your building.
- Interior Moisture Build up - Created from things like showers, humidifiers, dryers.
- Air Humidity - Condensation build up from warm outside air in cool basements.
With water all around us, the environmental conditions your building exists within and the construction methods with which your building was built will all influence how prone your basement will be to moisture accumulation.
What causes basement moisture accumulation?
The nature of water can be described using the following universal constants: (a) water will always find a way - be it under, around, over or through, and (b) water will always follow the path of least resistance. Water will generally find its way into your basement due to:
- Existing Cracks - walls, floors, and around windows or doors provide the perfect avenue through which water can flow.
- Improper Gradient or Slope - that draws water to your building instead of away from it. Even the slightest of gradients towards your building will bring water to you.
- Condensation Build up - air transfer from warm to cool areas will lead to water build up. This build up makes basements the perfect breeding ground for mould.
- Hydrostatic Pressure - the effects of gravity upon water force it into even the tiniest of capillary cracks in your basement walls and floors.
- Poor Soil and Drainage Systems - that fail to drain water away properly. This is one of the most common causes of basement moisture build up.
- Poorly Installed and Maintained Gutters - that fail to direct rainwater away from your foundation.
What methods exist to combat moisture accumulation?
As irresistible as the movement of water can be, there are effective approaches to preventing moisture accumulation:
- Focus - sealing all cracks or holes in your basement walls, floors, and around windows and doors.
- Advantages - properly sealed and watertight cracks or holes prevents any new moisture, condensation or humidity from travelling inside.
- Materials Used - Quality sealants that come with extended warranties are a sure sign of effectiveness.
- Cost factor - generally the first, easiest and most affordable of methods to waterproofing your basement.
- Focus - by removing the soil around the foundations and applying the right sealant products, this method prevents water making its way through your foundations.
- Advantages - whilst being the most labour-intensive method, it is also the most comprehensive in keeping water out.
- Materials - polymer based sealants applied to the foundations should last for the life of the building.
- Cost factor - because substantial excavation is required, remedial works are always going to be far costlier than exterior waterproofing done at the time of construction.
Note - Gutter systems are also a great exterior method that, when properly maintained, will direct water away from your home. To keep them functioning well ensure they are clean and clear of debris, and direct water as far away from your home as possible.
- Focus - the installation of drainage conduits or sump pumps will require careful excavation. Careless work will result in further (costly) structural damage.
- Advantages - drainage systems (like french drains, slip drains etc) channel water away from the building whilst sump pumps are installed in areas of high water build.
- Materials - the preferred system and the materials used will generally depend on how well the soil around your home drains away, the gradient / slope of the land your building sits upon and the risk of flooding.
- Cost factor - will largely depend on the particular system chosen and whether it is installed as part of construction or as a remedial fix.
So what should your next step be?
No two properties (even neighbouring ones) are alike and there are many complex considerations that need to be made when determining how to best waterproof a basement. As tempting as it may be to ignore emerging basement water problems, the significant structural problems they can cause will always lead to great expense and stress.
Your home, finances and health are worth it so don’t delay and enlist a qualified waterproofing expert who not only understands the various waterproofing methods and materials, but also knows how to employ them in combination to ensure your building has a comprehensive and purpose built waterproofing system in place.
Call Drylok Waterproofing today and find out how we can keep your basement dry and safe, now and into the future.