Those that are considering finishing their basement and turning it into a family room, “man cave” or craft -laundry room combination should first make sure that the space has no moisture problems.
Failure to address moisture related problems in one’s basement is a recipe for disaster either with or without remodeling plans. Water can cause costly and dangerous problems that if left untreated only fester and cause more problems.
What follows is a primer on how to repair a basement’s moisture problems.
Determine the Water’s Source
If you are experiencing water or dampness in your basement you must first determine where the water is coming from.
There are four sources of basement moisture problems. They are; condensation due to a contrast in temperatures, seepage coming thru the foundation’s pores and or expansion joints, leaks cause by cracks in the foundation, and subterranean water that is the result of the home being built in an area with a high water table.
Once the source of the moisture is ascertained a course of action can be decided upon. Each of the water related problems has its own distinct set of solutions. This article will attempt to discuss solutions to a seepage problem. Solutions for dealing with the other below ground moisture issues will also be briefly touched upon.
Solution One: Improve Surface Drainage
Surface drainage problems often result from poor landscaping, downspouts and gutters. All three are relatively simple issues to address.
The purchase and well-placement of some shallow rooted shrubs, an eight inch grade that slopes away from the house, installation of vapor barriers and routine cleaning of gutters and downspouts should eliminate most surface drainage problems.
Solution Two: Seal the Interior Walls
There are a variety of interior waterproofing substances on the market today. Most come in either a liquid or powder form.
Liquid formulas are easier to use than powder formulas. They tend to come “ready to use” whereas the powder formulas must generally be mixed with water and applied to a damp wall. Liquids, though ready to use, must be applied to dry walls.
Whichever sealant is choose the walls must be prepped in the same way. The walls should be cleaned completely and be free of any visible imperfections such as cracks, holes or loose mortar. Once the walls are properly prepped the interior sealant can be applied accordingly to manufacturer’s instructions.
Solution Three: Seal the Exterior Walls
Sealing the basement’s exterior walls can be both costly and labor intensive. It is not a job for someone uninitiated in home repairs or without proper equipment.
For example, in order to seal the exterior walls they first have to be completely exposed. This requires extensive trench digging best done with a backhoe.
Once the exterior walls are exposed they will need to be properly shored in order to prevent dangerous cave-ins and subsequent wall damage.
All this must be done before the actual sealing can begin. Therefore is it any wonder that it is a task best left to the professionals?
Solutions to Condensation, Cracks and High Water Tables
As previously mentioned, there are several other potential sources of below ground moisture. What follows is a simplistic explanation of how to solve problems created by those other water sources.
Condensation problems can be corrected by improving the basement’s ventilation system and by installing a good quality dehumidifier to remove the excess moisture from the room.
Cracks in the walls that allow water to leak in can be repaired by patching the cracks with commercially available materials made specifically for such a task.
In the advent of the home being built on an area with a high water table either a sump pump can be installed or a series of drain tiles that lead the water into a storm sewer can be employed.
This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for the assistance and advice of a licensed contractor. Those that have questions and concerns about below ground moisture issues should contact one of their local licensed contractors for assistance. No implied or expressed warranties or guarantees of repair success are contained within this article. All home repairs are attempted at one’s own risk.