Basement Water Problems: There Is Hope
If your foundation is wet and damp, there is hope of remedying the problem. The moisture or water in the bases comes from two sources. The main culprit is groundwater, which is water from outside that enters the foundation. The second and less serious is high humidity levels in the basement that form condensation and water vapor. Groundwater that soaks into the soil outside the house can easily find its way to the foundation. Water can seep into the basement through holes and cracks in the foundation walls or cracks in the basement floor slab. Water can also enter through porous foundation blocks or brick walls, most foundation walls are made of concrete blocks that have natural pours and cracks that can allow water to seep in. Solid concrete base foundation walls are much better at keeping water out.
The main idea is to direct water away from the exterior walls of the house. Make sure all downspouts discharge a minimum of five feet from exterior walls. Make sure the gutters in the house are free flowing and do not overflow. Overflowing gutters will pour water against the exterior walls of the house and contribute greatly to basic water problems. Repair or replace leaking gutters and downspouts to help keep water out.
Make sure the area around the entire perimeter of the house slopes away from the exterior walls so that the water runs off and not onto the foundation walls. As for the exterior, it is a very important step in the maintenance of your basement dryer. Be sure to remove anything against exterior walls that can trap water, such as flower boxes and wooden tie walls, which will always be a source of trapped water.
Plug and patch holes in basement foundation walls. Holes and cracks can allow water to enter. Plugging holes and sealing cracks may not solve all basement water problems, but doing so along with other remedial measures should help keep water out of the basement. Try to seal the interior foundation walls with hydraulic cement. Be sure to apply the cement over bare masonry or it will not be effective. These types of sealants need to be applied in a thick layer, so don’t try to stretch them, apply the sealant in a thick layer. The idea is that the caulking material will seal up small holes and cracks and help prevent water from entering the basement.
If basement water problems persist, you may want to consider installing a basement drainage system. There are two types of effective drainage systems. One type is installed outside against the foundation wall and the other is installed inside along the inside perimeter of the basement walls. If your house is already built, the only real practical solution is the interior drainage system method. This method consists of perforated pipe installed below the basement floor slab along the interior perimeter that connects to a sump pump and sump pit. As the water enters through the walls and the water table rises, the water will go to the sump pump and be pumped out and then into the basement. You must ensure that the sump pump is discharging at least five feet from exterior walls to avoid redirecting water against exterior walls and then into the house.
Control excess moisture. When moist air comes into contact with cold surfaces, it produces water vapor. This condensation will run down the pipes and foundation walls, leaving the basement damp and smelling of mold and mildew. Several remedies for this condition would be installing a dehumidifier, sealing the dryer vent pipe so hot moisture doesn’t leak into the basement, installing a fan in any basement bathroom, and keeping windows closed during very humid summer weather. If you have a central air conditioner, keep it on during very hot and humid days to remove condensation from the air. Install central air conditioning in the basement if you don’t already have the basement as part of your existing air conditioning register setup.
Be careful when hiring professional waterproofing companies. Many times they will provide very expensive solutions to the problem when most basement water problems can be corrected without having to take out a second mortgage. If you decide to use a waterproofing company, be sure to do your homework and check their registration with the Better Business Bureau.