How to Waterproof your Basement

All across the country, homes have large amounts of space in the basement they either can't use or don't want to fix up. The problem in most of these unfinished basements is the exposure to the elements. Many basements are not properly waterproofed, and leaking water can cause a range of problems for anything left in the room.

In the worst cases, flooding can ruin any items left in storage, cause infestations of black mould and even rot the timbers that support the home. Even in the best cases where a basement is in a reasonably dry location, it's a good idea to waterproof the room. A waterproofed basement can be converted into a finished basement and add value to your home.

The first step to basement waterproofing is to examine where water may be entering. Check the outside perimeter of the house. If the land is sloping away from the house, that's good. If the home is instead in a depression, that means water will pool up against the foundation. Once there it can seep down under the foundation and come up in the basement. The ideal drop is two inches per foot of distance away from the foundation.

Likewise, check your downspouts and gutters. While most people don't do this, the downspouts should drain at least five feet away from the foundation. Any closer and the water simply pours up against the foundation and seeps in.

Check for plants growing too close to the home. Try to keep a minimum distance of one foot between the wall and shrubbery, because a rotted root becomes a small pipe in which water can drain against the foundation.

Once these problems are fixed, you can work on waterproofing the inside of the basement. Waterproofing paints or solutions are great to coat the walls. Some react to the presence of water by sealing tighter, while others are simply coats of a solid layer that withstand the presence of moisture. In any instance where there is a crack in the wall, it should be filled with waterproofing filler.

If you can, and don't have one already, install a sump. These holes allow groundwater and any leakage to drain into a contained area, where it is pumped away. However, a sump is an expensive and time-consuming installation, so it isn't for everyone. If necessary, French drains or hydroclay can be installed to further divert large quantities of water away from the foundation.

Once these steps have been taken, you should be left with a wonderfully waterproofed basement. You are then free to finish and furnish the room as much as you like, with the assurance that it won't rot from below or within.