Waterproofing Basement Walls: Guide To Fixing Damp Units

How do you waterproof a basement wall? Here is a guide.

As useful as basements are, they require extra attention simply because of where they are located – below the ground.

But why is this a problem?

It is common knowledge that water flows to the steepest ends of any surface, so for the fact, your basement is located down below, it will always attract water.

Unfortunately, your basement walls will leak if it isn’t waterproofed.

That being said, we’ll be discussing damp basement walls, and how you can waterproof them effectively.

Why Is My Basement Wall Damp?

I already mentioned that water flows to the steepest points of any surface, and since your basement is at the low end, water will naturally flow in that direction.

Before you begin to take steps to waterproof your basement, you need to understand why it keeps getting damp in the first place.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the major reasons your basement walls are damp.

Porosity: Poured concrete walls are solid, and they can last for a very long time. But as strong as they are, they are filled with tiny pores.

These pores aren’t visible to the human eye because of their small sizes, but they are large enough to allow water to seep through.

Cracks in the foundation: When there is heavy rainfall, water can gather around the edges of your foundation. If it has a few cracks, then water can seep through and flow down your basement walls.

Poor drainage: If you don’t have proper drainage, then water can gather around your basement walls. The problem is, the water won’t remain there, as it will make its way through any leaks.

But with proper drainage, water will be channeled away from the foundation and will not be able to flow down to your basement walls.

Leaking pipes: If the pipes above your basement, either from your kitchen or bathroom are leaking, then the water can make its way through your basement ceiling and flow down your basement walls.

The Problem With Damp Basement Walls

If you think your damp basement wall isn’t a problem, then think again, as I will be listing the problems it can cause you at home.

It promotes mold growth: Mold spores exist in pretty much any space you can think of, and they are all around your basement. However, they won’t land and begin to grow on any surface if that surface is not damp.

If your basement walls are damp, then it will be a perfect environment for mold spores to land and begin to grow their colonies.

Besides making your basement walls look terrible, mold is also a health hazard, as it can cause allergies and infect human lungs – causing breathing problems along the way.

It weakens the structure: Leaving your basement walls damp for extended periods will cause them to weaken and develop cracks. It can also cause it to cave in, and that is terrible for the integrity of your structure as a whole.

It reduces the market value of your home: If you are planning to sell your home, then you can rest assured that damp basement walls will not do your asking price any good.

Potential home buyers will carry out inspections before they decide on whether they will buy your house or not. And if it is discovered that your basement walls are damp, they will underprice your home.

This is because the new owner will have to take on the responsibility of fixing the leaks and restoring the walls to their solid state.

How To Waterproof Basement Walls

Now that you know why your basement walls are damp and the problems they can cause you, let’s take a look at what you can do to waterproof.

There are several approaches you can employ to do this, the first of which is hiring a professional waterproofer. They are experienced in the craft of basement waterproofing, and they will advise you on the right steps to take.

Waterproofing basement walls can be done on two fronts – The interior walls and the exterior walls.

Exterior waterproofing entails blocking off water seepage from inside the basement, while exterior waterproofing entails blocking off water from outside.

Here’s what you can do.

  1. Inspect the area

The first thing a professional waterproofer will do is inspect the foundation of your home and around the basement.

Their mission at this stage is to find out exactly where the water is coming from, and they can trace this by careful observation of watermarks on the wall.

They will also take a look at any pipes above your basement ceiling to trace leaks. Leaking pipes could be from your bathroom, kitchen, HVAC system, or laundry room.

After the water sources have been discovered, steps can be taken to stop the leakages.

  1. Seal the cracks in the foundation

If cracks are discovered in your foundation during the inspection, then it should be sealed immediately to prevent more water from seeping through.

Thankfully, there are many brands of concrete sealers you can use to do this, and a professional contractor can advise you on which is best for you.

Luckily, sealing external cracks isn’t such a daunting task so you can do it yourself if you haven’t hired a contractor.

Just visit a home maintenance store around your area and buy the right concrete sealer to patch up the cracks.

Read the instructions on the package carefully before you begin to ensure you seal the foundation cracks the right way

  1. Fix leaking pipes

Leaking pipes can be hard to deal with, especially if they have been installed within walls. Tracing the exact spot where a pipe leak is something best done by a contractor, but you can give it a shot if you have some experience.

Once the leakage is spotted, you will need to either buy a replacement pipe and install, or block the holes in the leaking pipe. But if the leakages occur in multiple areas of the piping, then you may need to replace them all.

I suggest you buy plastic pipes as replacements since they do not rust. Metal pipes can rust and begin to develop leakages again in the future.

  1. Install downspouts and gutters

Installing downspouts should be a major part of your exterior waterproofing plans. This is because the bulk of the water that dampens your basement walls come from outside.

If you don’t have a downspout system, or the one you have is too close to your building, then rainwater or melted snow will flow from the roof down to your foundation. The case could also be that the gutters on your roof have been clogged by bird nests and water cannot be discharged properly.

If this is the case, then you need to unclog your downspouts by removing bird nests, twigs, leaves, and any other debris that may hinder free flow.

Another great idea is to add downspout extensions that stretch at least 30 yards away from your foundation. By doing so, any water flowing down from your roof will be discharged far away and will not rest on your foundation walls.

As long as the water is deposited far away from your foundation, then the chances of water seeping through to your basement walls will be reduced.

  1. Redo the landscape

Some landscapers make the mistake of tilting the yard towards the direction of your home. This means anytime there is heavy snow or rainfall, water will flow towards your home and rest on your foundation walls.

If your landscape is of this nature, then you need to redo it to keep water from resting on your foundation walls. This is a time-consuming process that will cost you some money (and maybe some inconvenience), but once it’s done, rainwater will be able to flow away from your foundation, and not towards it.

Hence reducing the chances of water seepage through your basement walls.

  1. Apply waterproofing paint sealers

Once you’re done waterproofing the exterior foundation, you can begin to work inside.

Since poured concrete walls are porous, it means water can seep through the pores. But you can stop this from happening by applying paint sealers.

These have thicker coats than regular paint, and they can penetrate the concrete pores and dry inside, thereby blocking the spaces that water can pass through.

Before you apply the waterproofing paint, make sure your basement walls are free of mold and efflorescence, as these will not allow the paint to properly adhere to the walls or penetrate deep.

All you need to apply waterproofing paint is a paintbrush or roller. The application process is the same with regular paint. You can apply an extra layer of the coating after the first one is dried up for best results.

Final Words

Waterproofing your basement walls will keep them free of dampness, which will in turn prevent efflorescence and mold growth.

You should hire a professional service to inspect for the source of dampness before you begin.

Thanks for reading!

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