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It’s raining outside again, and your basement has sprung a leak. It may be a trickle you see, or condensation on your walls or windows, or you may have noticed a small puddle on the floor that never seems to go away.
While standing water is an obvious thing you would notice, the more subtle signs of water intrusion are very important to keep an eye out for.
Certain types of soil can cause issues with drainage around your home, your gutters may be clogged or misdirected, your home’s foundation could be cracked, or the originally installed waterproofing medium may have degraded since your home was built.
Fortunately, these are all fixable things; it’s not time to worry too much yet. Call a professional to inspect your basement and foundation, and rest assured that the problem will be handled. It will be OK!
The most important thing to do when you notice moisture in the basement is to get it taken care of immediately. Even small amounts of water can cause mold growth, and mold grows extremely fast.
A foundation leak, left unfixed, can cause foundation failures that will cost much more to resolve later on than it will when it’s first noticed.
8 Signs That You Need Basement Waterproofing
As a homeowner, there are few things more alarming than water intrusion. The structural damage that water can cause is serious, the health issues associated with mold are urgent, and the risk of further damage to your home is of the utmost importance.
Once water gets into your home, the damage it causes can easily mean that you’ll need to replace insulation, drywall, and, depending on the extent of the damage, the framing.
Mold is difficult to remediate and costly in both the health issues it can cause and the dollar amount you will spend to mitigate the source.
If you notice any of the following eight signs in your home, contact a waterproofing professional immediately:
- Water puddles in the basement
- Water stains on the floor or walls
- Leaks coming from the floor or walls
- Condensation on basement windows or doors
- Swelling or warped doors
- The smell of dampness that doesn’t seem to go away
- Visual confirmation of mold or mildew
- Cracking on the floor or walls
In the event that a water leak has gone unnoticed for a long period of time or moisture issues have not been addressed appropriately, your home’s foundation can be compromised and must be repaired.
Foundation repairs are handled by structural engineers and are more extensive than the waterproofing itself. If you notice cracks, leaks, or bowing in your basement walls, it’s most certainly time to call in a foundation repair specialist.
Choosing Between Basement Waterproofing Companies
First, it’s important for you to know that waterproofing may not be covered by your homeowner’s insurance. Typically, your insurance will only cover above-ground water intrusion issues and damage caused by failed appliances or sump pumps.
Waterproofing issues and groundwater intrusion are considered maintenance items, and your insurance carrier’s expectation is that you will take preventative care of your home to avoid these types of problems.
Take care to waterproof your new build correctly, and in older homes, be sure to maintain the existing waterproofing method however possible to avoid long-term issues that you will have to cover out of pocket.
Once you have contacted a few waterproofing contractors, figure out which one you want to work with.
While there are a good number of professional around that handle this type of work, it is always best to ask for their qualifications. This is your right as a consumer, and your duty as a concerned homeowner.
The best contractors will have plenty of experience and certifications from leading industry organizations. A few great organizations that issue certifications and memberships are the Basement Health Association (BHA), Waterproofing Contractors Association (WCA), and Sealant Waterproofing & Restoration Institute (SWRI).
A certification shows that the company in question has undergone training in your specific issues and has the qualifications and know-how to remediate the issue correctly and completely.
Getting Rid of the Water in Your Basement
You chose a contractor, and they have amazing qualifications. Their reviews are fantastic, the company’s longevity in the market is impressive, and they have a solution for your specific issue. Great! You’re almost there!
Knowing and understanding the available options for getting rid of the water in your basement is essential to educating yourself on not just the solutions, but also the causes. You can make sure it never happens again, and you will notice the warning signs if they ever show up again.
The different causes of water intrusion have different solutions, of course. One size does not fit all.
Depending on what your contractor has found, the possible solutions are as follows (and remember, it may be a combination of solutions):
- Sealant application
- Floor drain installation
- Sump pump installation
- Drain system installation
- Crack repair
- Sealant application
- Yard grading
- Gutter installation, and/or redirecting water runoff away from the foundation
- Regular inspections of the foundation
- Sump pump maintenance
- Dehumidifier usage
- Air flow correction
A great plus to having your basement properly waterproofed: bugs can’t get in! A crack in the foundation is a doorway to pests; sealing the cracks to avoid water damage also closes that doorway to pest intrusion.
Understanding Waterproofing Solutions
As important as it is to understand the causes of the water intrusion, it is equally important to understand what is going to happen in the course of resolution. Even interior remediation will most likely include at least some degree of demolition.
Here’s what to expect with an interior waterproofing system:
- The team will dig a trench around the interior of your basement walls.
- They will then lay down the drain system in that trench and, in most cases, install a sump pump.
- Next, the crew will repour concrete as needed, applying chemical sealants if the situation calls for them.
Exterior waterproofing is extensive. Here’s what to expect:
- All soil will be dug away from your foundation, usually to a depth of 7 or 8 feet.
- The crew will dig a trench around the foundation and fill it with drain material and gravel.
- Depending on your home’s specific issue, the crew may also apply chemical sealants and/or sheets of waterproofing material to the exterior foundation walls.
Both types of waterproofing work may also include yard regrading to redirect water away from your home and gutter work with the same purpose.
The Bottom Line
Regardless of whether you need interior waterproofing, exterior waterproofing, foundation work, or a combination of the three, your home can be fixed. Sometimes the solution is as simple as diverting water away from your home.
In most cases, the best way to handle a water intrusion problem is to address the easy tasks first.
For example, have your gutters inspected, talk to a drainage expert about the grade of your yard, and then worry about the interior of the basement. If those solutions don’t fix the problem, you’ll likely need to move on to the exterior.
Running a dehumidifier can help immensely with mold growth, and keeping windows or doors open can also help by bringing in fresh air and drying out the basement. You can do your part to keep issues from forming, but only with the issues you can see or smell.
More important is an inspection by a professional who can assess the status of your waterproofing methods whether you are buying a brand-new home, constructing a home, or buying an older home.
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