How Basement Waterproofing Works, A Step-By-Step

Have you noticed your basement getting swamped with humidity? Or maybe your basement is outright leaking water from the corner where the basement wall meets the floor slab. Whether it’s one of these scenarios, or another that’s causing your wet basement problems, you’re probably thinking to yourself “Do I need a basement waterproofing solution? And how do these systems work?”

Here we’ll be taking a closer look at what basement waterproofing consists of, how it works, and why it’s an important part of a dry basement and a safe home. Let’s dive in!

The Components of a Basement Waterproofing System

There are exterior and interior basement waterproofing systems. An exterior waterproofing system is intended to block water at the walls and drain it down into a pipe that was installed around the outside of the house when it was built. This water in the pipe is then supposed to drain away through a buried channel that was dug out and filled with stone so the water could move freely through it.

The problem with this system seems obvious. The drain channel and even the pipe are eventually going to clog with mud. Almost all basements leak in time as their exterior system clogs.

The better solution is an interior waterproofing system.  This includes installing a drainage channel beneath the basement floor that drains to a sump pump. This eliminates the water in a much more controlled manner —so much so that interior systems come with a lifetime warranty.

Here’s a list of what might make up a basement waterproofing system for you. Depending on your basement’s needs, there may be more components or fewer needed…

  • Drainage channels
  • Moisture vapor barrier
  • Sump pump
  • Discharge pipe
  • Dehumidifier

Let’s next have a look at how basement waterproofing works, step-by-step!

How is the Water Getting into My Basement?

Basement waterproofing is meant to help control water in two forms—as liquid water, and as water vapor. Moisture vapor can enter your basement through a variety of ways including cracks in your basement floor and wall, gaps in your foundation where piping may be passing through, and even through the porous material of your foundation’s concrete.

Meanwhile, groundwater can enter your basement through cracks in the wall or floor, and even through the cold joint where your basement wall meets the floor slab.

So how does a basement waterproofing system take on invasive water and moisture? Let’s start with moisture…

Protection Against Outside Moisture

If your basement has a problem with invasive moisture and a lot of humidity, a moisture vapor barrier may be installed along with the basement waterproofing system. This kind of wall membrane is meant to keep water vapor away from the useable space of the basement, and it can help guide any wall leakage towards the drainage channels of the waterproofing system.

A powerful dehumidifier is also key to wringing water from the air in your basement. The right dehumidifier will make your basement space feel as dry and comfortable as your upstairs.

Protection Against Groundwater Intrusion

Groundwater tends to enter a basement either through cracks in the foundation or through the cold joints between where the floor slab meets the basement wall.

With basement waterproofing, the drainage channels are designed to allow water to enter them through holes cut in their side. These drainage channels are typically situated either on the footer or beside the footer. As the water table rises during a rain, the groundwater will enter these drainage channels and be guided towards a collection point. The water gets collected in a sump pit where it is ready to be moved out of your basement.

By rule of thumb, on-the-footer systems are easier to install but drain less water. If you opt for an on-the-footer drainage system, be sure you are ok with the greater risk of being flooded again in heavier rains.

What Happens in the Sump Pit?

In the sump pit, there should be a sump pump waiting to be activated. There are several types of sump pumps out there. Here are some of the sump pumps you may run across…

  • Submersible sump pumps
  • Water-powered sump pumps
  • Pedestal sump pumps
  • Combination sump pumps

When the sump pump activates, it will begin to suck the collected water up and through a discharge pipe. This pipe should be going far enough away from your home to deposit the water so that it doesn’t return to your foundation.

It is important to note that a sump pump is only good so long as it is working—during bad storms, when power outages can frequently happen, it is crucial to have a battery backup for your sump pump. Should a sump pump lose power during a bad storm, it can lead to a wet basement or even a flooded one.

With the water being discharged away from your home, not only do you get to enjoy a nice and dry basement, but your foundation will also benefit from the reduced water pressure. The pressure gets reduced because that same groundwater that would be pressing against the concrete is being transported away by your basement waterproofing system—less groundwater in the surrounding soil, less pressure.

Now You Know How! But Why Waterproof Your Basement?

Whether you want to have a finished basement or just want to use your basement as storage space, it’s important to keep your basement dry and free from moisture. That’s because unwanted moisture or water can lead to a variety of problems, not just for your foundation, but for the inside of your basement as well.

Here are just some of the scenarios that wet basements can create…

  • Mold growth
  • Pest infestations such as termites, rats, and dust mites
  • Wood rot in wooden structures such as support beams or floor joists
  • Further damage to the foundation concrete

These are just some of the problems that can arise from a wet basement. Each can mean more headaches and more repairs to be done. These problems can also spread to other parts of your home if allowed to linger in your basement. Waterproofing your basement protects you from these extra problems while keeping your basement and home safe and healthy.

Giving Your Home the Professional Basement Waterproofing Treatment

Your home is not just your place of shelter and safety, it’s also a considerable investment! Not every basement waterproofing contractor is made equal. You’ll want to make sure your basement is being waterproofed by a company with many years of experience and the positive reviews to back their services. You should also make sure that the contractor offers a strong warranty to back their work. For a basement waterproofing expert that meets these requirements, consider giving ’58 Foundations a call!