Basement waterproofing - superficial vs. legitimate solutions
by Brandpoint (ARA) Sponsored Content
Mar 12, 2013 | 16617 views | 0 0 comments | 191 191 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Any home or building that is built at ground level or contains floors below ground level is a good candidate for basement waterproofing, although there are superficial, cosmetic solutions for waterproofing a basement that really won’t solve the true problem.

Depending on the climate and geography surrounding a building, most structures need basement waterproofing to ensure that water stays out of the lowest levels and to protect the structural integrity of the building. When it rains or snows, moisture slowly seeps into the ground and accumulates in the soil surrounding the outer walls of the structure. As this soil becomes waterlogged, the pressure caused by the weight of the soaked soil pressing against the outer walls of the building starts to increase. This pressure is called hydrostatic pressure, and as it increases, water outside the building finds its way inside the building through cracks and buckling walls.

Increased moisture in the basement leads to mold and mildew, light flooding, heavy flooding and even collapsing basement walls – all of which decrease the value and usefulness of the basement space as well as the entire structure. For businesses, water-damaged basements mean less storage space as well as the potential for damaged goods already stored there. For homes, water-damaged basements mean less useable living space as well as decreased resale value for the property. Basement waterproofing is the solution for this problem, but superficial solutions only look good – they don’t solve the problem of hydrostatic pressure-induced water invasion.

An easy solution internally is to treat interior walls with Killz or similar mold-preventive coverings. Another option is to treat the walls with an internal sealant, and patch obvious cracks in foundation walls with hydraulic cement to prevent the easy access of water from the outside. This is a temporary solution for masonry walls that can be performed by just about anyone.

In poured concrete foundations, contractors can pressure-inject epoxies or urethane into the walls reaching to the exterior – successfully sealing off the path of water seepage from the outside. This type of procedure is often warrantied by waterproofing contractors to last from 10 years to the lifetime of the home.

Interior drainage is another process used to deal with water seepage from the outside. Interior drainage is not waterproofing, but rather a method of dealing with water as it enters the basement space. With interior drainage systems, underground water collects in a perimeter trench and is routed to a sump pump, where it is pumped out of and away from the home or building. The layman’s version of this process is to use a dehumidifier to collect the moisture from the air of the basement and to empty that collected water on a regular basis.

The most effective and only true form of basement waterproofing is exterior waterproofing. This process begins with excavating the exterior walls down to their base, then treating those walls with a new, polymer-based substance or by sealing the walls with a waterproofing, rolled-out rubber membrane. Drainage tiles, also known as weeping tiles or footer pipes, are then placed around the exterior walls and covered with backfilled gravel and then soil. Water that soaks into the ground after storms and snow makes its way to the drain tiles and is then carried out to the streets or city drainage system – never having the chance to accumulate and create hydrostatic pressure.

Although this is the most effective and only recognized form of true waterproofing according to the International Building Code, most property owners are hesitant to have this semi-intensive work done. Instead, they will choose the lesser options until their basements are in danger of serious compromise. The old expressions – a stitch in time saves nine, and, penny-wise but pound-foolish – come to mind when it comes to this less-than-proactive way of thinking about responsible property management and property values over time.

Copyright 2013 The Times-Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

report abuse...

Express yourself:

We're glad to give readers a forum to express their points of view on issues important to this community. That forum is the “Letters to the Editor.” Letters to the editor may be submitted directly to The Times-Independent through this link and will be published in the print edition of the newspaper. All letters must be the original work of the letter writer – form letters will not be accepted. All letters must include the actual first and last name of the letter writer, the writer’s address, city and state and telephone number. Anonymous letters will not be accepted.

Letters may not exceed 400 words in length, must be regarding issues of general interest to the community, and may not include personal attacks, offensive language, ethnic or racial slurs, or attacks on personal or religious beliefs. Letters should focus on a single issue. Letters that proselytize or focus on theological debates will not be published. During political campaigns, The Times-Independent will not publish letters supporting or opposing any local candidate. Thank you letters are generally not accepted for publication unless the letter has a public purpose. Thank you letters dealing with private matters that compliment or complain about a business or individual will not be published. Nor will letters listing the names of individuals and/or businesses that supported a cause or event. Thank you letters about good Samaritan acts will be considered at the discretion of the newspaper.