How to Waterproof a Basement the Wrong Way
This blog is dedicated to educating the public about basement waterproofing. In it we talk about drain tile, exterior waterproofing membranes, sump pumps, crack injection, proper yard drainage and all the other techniques, repairs and equipment that help keep your basement dry.
As we go about our business in the basements of Chicagoland, northwest Indiana and the Milwaukee area, we are reminded almost daily that there other ways to do basement waterproofing – and they’re almost always wrong.
Five Ways to Do Basement Waterproofing Wrong
Do It Yourself – Sorry, all you fans of This Old House and the DIY Network, but there are some things you just shouldn’t do yourself. Sure, you might be able to install a sump pump, although we don’t recommend it, but drain tile? It’s more than digging a hole and dropping in some plastic pipe and it’s a lot of work. Crack injection? Don’t waste your time and money on DIY kits if you don’t know what you’re doing. You’ll only make it more difficult (and more costly) when you have to call in the pros.
Waterproofing Paint – Nope. Talk about a waste of time and money! The best a coat of waterproofing paint can do for you is hold back minor moisture penetration through concrete block. Unfortunately, that moisture still comes in through the block walls to the inside, collects beneath the coat of paint and eventually forces the paint right off the wall. Then, your basement is not only wet but ugly, too.
Hydraulic Cement – Hydraulic cement is one of the two materials that homeowners seem to always want to use to fix leaks in their basements. (We’ll get to the other in a minute.) The attraction seems to be that hydraulic cement will harden in wet conditions, but that’s about all it has going for it. When a homeowner parges (spreads a coat on) a leaking basement wall it’s what we call a “negative side” repair, meaning that water under pressure continues to seep through the wall until it hits the patch and eventually forces the patch off the wall.
Caulk – Yep, there’s the other thing. Caulk is great stuff – for windows, doors, bath tubs and other spots around the home where water might penetrate. However, when water penetrates your basement, it’s under pressure, either hydrostatic from below or lateral from the soil surrounding the foundation and a bead of caulk just won’t stand up to that kind of pressure. Same goes for roofing tar, gutter sealant, spray rubber coatings or anything else from the hardware store.
Ignore Window Wells – Window wells are there to let light and air into your basement. They also turn into great water collectors and if they’re not properly drained that water will end up in your basement. If drains are missing or clogged, you’re getting wet feet. Oh, and those inexpensive covers you got at Home Depot? Do they fit pretty well? I didn't think so. Bad window well covers won’t keep out animals, leaves and crud, all of which means clogged drains.
We don’t mean to bum you out but the facts are the facts. Don’t waste your time and money or put your basement at risk by waterproofing the wrong way. At U.S. Waterproofing, we know how to do basement waterproofing right and have been doing it that way for more than 55 years. Please ask for our free advice.
Want to dispute any of these points? You’re on. Let’s get into it in the Comments box below.