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Basement Waterproofing - When To Start

Jacques Bouchard

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"Is my basement leaking enough to need waterproofing?" This is a question that resounds with nearly every homeowner who is unfortunate enough to have a wet basement problem. If the basement is leaking only once a year, or the leaks are small, the decision can seem like a difficult one. As professional basement waterproofing specialists who have been in the business for 20 years, Basement Systems has found that there are these several key times when homeowners decide to waterproof their basement.

When building the home

Basements are imperfect concrete structures that will eventually begin to break down. Sooner or later, water is going to be able to make its way through cracks in the basement walls, floors, and through the foundation wall floor joint around the perimeter. As a preventative measure, most homes are built with a footing drain around the exterior of the home. Unfortunately, an exterior perimeter French drain outside of the home will clog as soil from around the home gets into the system. When filter fabric is laid down with a French drain, that fabric will also clog. Either way, your basement will still be unprotected from foundation water. Servicing these drains requires excavation around the entire home- which means that gardens, porches, steps, and anything else up against the home will need to be removed.

Instead of building an exterior drainage system, install an interior French drain system with a cast-iron Zoeller sump pump. An interior system is much easier to maintain and service, and you won't need to have an invasive excavation of your yard performed. New more efficient French drains such as WaterGuard are installed on top of the footing of the foundation and underneath the basement floor, making them almost invisible in your home and fully compatible with basement wall products that can also protect you from leaking basement walls and floors.

Before finishing the basement

Finishing a basement is a fantastic idea. At half the price of building an addition on the home and without the loss of yard space, a basement finishing turns the single largest area of empty space in a home into a new living room, family room, game room, basement bar, basement bathroom, mother in law's suite, wine cellar, or anything else that can be imagined for the area. A national average of 75% of the price of the remodeled basement pays back for itself immediately in an increase in the value of the home and by 2010, when the housing market is expected to improve, this payback will be even better. Basements are naturally quiet, private spaces, and finishing them is a fantastic way to accommodate for a growing family.
Unfortunately, a flooding basement will quickly ruin wood, drywall and furniture. And once the immediate flooding has been pumped out, organic materials in the basement- including carpeting, wood sub floors, furniture, and other storied items will be ruined and in need of replacement. Drywall (even mold-resistant drywall and green board) can also easily be ruined by water. The investment made on the home is quickly lost, and the basement remodeling is wasted.

Because of this, it's extremely important that a basement waterproofing system be installed before the basement is finished. In fact, some homeowners will take the precaution of installing a perimeter drainage system and sump pump inside the home before the basement remodeling in order to ensure a long payback for their home improvement investment.

Before selling the home

If you're looking to sell your home, a wet basement can be a deal breaker. Home buyers are not looking to purchase someone else's problem, and if they find out that the basement floods, they will often back out of the deal. Home inspectors are trained to find the signs of wet basements, and they will make finding these signs a top priority.

In fact, 10% of the home's market value is lost with a wet basement. And because buyers will be reluctant to buy the home even at a discount, it will take much longer to sell it. In the end, fixing the basement properly with a sump pump and perimeter waterproofing system is a fast process- with a quality basement waterproofing contractor completing the job in 1-3 days- and it restores a great deal of value to your home.

Before using the space

Wet basements make terrible storage space. Basement leaks will destroy anything organic in the area- including wood sub floors. And when the basement is not leaking, hydrostatic pressure outside of the home will push water through porous concrete, mortar, and dirt around the foundation walls and cause humidity levels within a basement to skyrocket.

As the humidity in a basement rises, so do the levels of mold and dust mites. As warm air rises out of the top levels of the house and new air is pulled into the lower levels, humidity, foul odors, mold spores and dust mite feces in the air will rise up into the rest of the home, adding allergens to the home environment. Additionally, humid air is difficult to heat and cool, and the energy bills of the entire house will suffer.

Meanwhile, mold is growing on anything organic in your basement. Boxes, cloth, leather, drywall paper on the walls and ceiling, wood, and anything else organic in the basement is a target. For the basement to be usable space, the relative humidity of the area should be brought below 60%. At this level, the area is comfortable for humans but dry enough to prevent mold and dust mites from thriving. Along with a sump pump and interior perimeter drain, an energy-efficient self-draining dehumidifier is the best answer for a dry basement.

Before the rainy season

A wet basement is easy to ignore during dry weather. But when a major storm hits, the amount of water that comes in can be hard to predict. Homeowners that previously only had a small leak once or twice a year can be shocked and disappointed to find that their basement has several inches-even feet- of water seemingly out of the blue. How serious a basement flood can be is sometimes hard to tell, and unless the investment is made in a basement waterproofing system, the risk of such a flood is always present. If you know stormy weather is ahead, then it's a great idea to deal with the problem before it gets out of hand.

Right now!

In the end, the best time to dry your basement is right now. Why wait? Every time your basement floods, the problem gets worse and you lose more money. Basement Systems- the world's largest network of basement waterproofing contractors- has contractors across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom that are willing to give a free basement waterproofing estimate and consultation. They use only Zoeller sump pumps and battery backup sump pumps in their systems- the best cast-iron sump pumps on the market. And their basement dehumidifiers are energy-efficient, self-draining and powerful enough to dry everything in the basement! Unlike other locally owned and operated basement waterproofing contractors, they have the backing of an international network- which means that you won't have to worry about them disappearing as they go out of business and leave you with a flood.


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