By Jaymi Curley | Editor & Writer
A wet basement has to be addressed. The problem will never go away on its own, and left too long, it can invite a host of other household problems: foundation cracks, mold, and termites, to name just a few. The prospect of digging up the basement, particularly one that is already partially or fully finished, could give a homeowner pause. But there are a number of waterproofing methods, some of which are not invasive at all, and a great waterproofing contractor always takes proper precautions to make sure that your home and family are protected during any procedures.
Exterior excavation involves digging around the entire outside perimeter of the basement to install a drain system. Waterproofing contractors typically install this type of drain when a house is first built. But as Tom DiGregorio—owner of AquaGguard Basement Systems of Atlanta—points out, in states where the building code only mandates damp-proofing, buyers should be aware of what they are getting. “What some building codes require a builder to do is what’s called damp-proofing; it’s just spraying a very thin coat of asphalt on the wall that is designed to resist water. It is not designed to be impervious to water. Damp-proofing is like going outside when it rains with a windbreaker on. But waterproofing is like wearing a raincoat—it’s impervious to water. No matter how much it rains, it’s not going to penetrate through.”
Interior drainage systems are installed either under or on top of the basement floor to capture intrusive water and send it to a sump-pump or gravity-fed system for removal from the home. A baseboard system runs its drains along the basement walls, and since putting it in requires no excavation, it is considered the best option for homes with monolithic basement floors. The more commonly used subfloor drain system does demand that the contractor break through the basement floor around its inner perimeter, but there are simple ways that the waterproofing company can minimize the homeowner’s discomfort. DiGregorio advocates numerous dust-suppression techniques. “You’re going to get concrete dust, you can’t avoid that. We use what’s called a negative-air machine, which basically ventilates the air outside. We also create curtains of plastic to minimize where the dust will travel to in the finished parts of the basement, and then we make sure the furnace is shut off so that the air conditioning system isn’t picking up the dust and distributing it throughout the house.”
Sealants are the third method of waterproofing, consisting of waterproof paint or special types of cements that are applied directly to walls and floors. Sealants serve to plug small cracks as well as keep out water; however, they are not a permanent or even long-term solution to the problem. The water pressure that causes moisture to seep in through the foundation and that presses on the outside of the basement walls has to be relieved in order to keep a basement permanently dry.
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