Solutions for a Wet Basement

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 8:00:00 AM Categories: Basement Remodeling Home Improvement Tips

In this post you’ll learn …

  • Steps to cleaning out a wet basement. 
  • How to dry out a wet basement.
  • The steps that need to be taken to fix and repair a wet basement..

Solutions for a Wet BasementFor homeowners, a flooded basement is one of the worse scenarios imaginable. Not only do all of your contents get damaged, the smell of a damp, moldy basement can be a health hazard, especially for people with allergies or lung diseases. It may seem overwhelming, but flooded basement cleanup can be approached in a systematic and organized fashion.

The first step is to clean up the mess. Remove any items damaged by water. Anything made of wood, fabric or upholstery will need to be removed immediately, then assess the damage. If the items cannot be cleaned or repaired, they will need to be thrown away. Some wood items can be sanded and refinished if the damage is not extensive, but in many cases, it is more economical to throw the items away so that they don’t harbor mold or odor.

Cracked Wall - Solutions for a Wet BasementThe next concern is how to dry out a wet basement. You need to get rid of the water currently sitting on the floor. A wet vac is good for removing water. If your basement has windows, it is best to open them immediately and run a fan to dry out the floor and wall surfaces.

Once the water is removed, the next step is to find and fix the source of the problem so that it doesn’t happen again. If the cause of the problem was a one-time occurrence, such as a faulty washing machine or a sump pump that failed, then you need to repair or replace those items. However, if the issue is that water is seeping in through the floor or walls, then you need to protect your home and basement with interior basement waterproofing.

The search for where the water is coming into your basement should begin outside of the home. Start by checking gutters and downspouts and make sure that all drainage systems are diverting water away from the home. The foundation soil around the home’s perimeter should slope away from the house. Make sure that landscaping does not cause run off toward the house or cause water retention near the foundation. Your basement windows should be above the level of the ground and the seal around the window needs to be watertight. If your windows sit right at ground level, consider replacing them with glass block. In many cases, this type of outdoor intervention is all that is needed.

However, if your outdoor landscape and drainage systems are already in order, then you need to waterproof the inside of the basement. The cost will depend on how severe the problem is and what level of correction is needed. Costs can range from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars. There is no “one size fits all” solution for waterproofing a basement. It is best to seek out the advice of at least three reputable basement waterproofing companies. Get referrals and make sure you understand their warranty.

Here are four basement waterproofing solutions, starting with the simplest and least expensive:

  • Waterproofing primer and paint products can help with minor seepage. However, if there is a major water source causing the problem, these products are not effective. 
  • Epoxy or polyurethane injections are suitable for cracks in poured concrete walls but do not work well on basement walls made of brick, stone or cinderblock. These products can prevent minor leaks but are not a good solution for systemic problems with the basement drainage system.
  • Interior excavation waterproofing is less expensive than exterior excavation methods and it is much less intrusive in terms of landscaping and exterior features of the home. A jackhammer is used to cut into the concrete floor and a new drainage system and sump pump are installed to control water that may seep in. The water is then directed to the sump pump pit. A backup battery or leak detection system is recommended to run the sump pump in case of a power failure. 
  • Exterior excavation involves digging down along the outside of the basement wall and installing a new drainage system around the perimeter; this is known as a French drain system. The goal is to correct any issues with the existing foundation drain tile. Most companies will also apply a waterproofing substance to the exterior wall surface at the same time to repel water in the future. It is an expensive method but it requires virtually no ongoing maintenance once it is properly installed since the fix is designed to keep water from building up and penetrating the wall. However it is disruptive to landscaping and exterior features of the home, such a porches or patios.