Never underestimate the value of having a reliably dry basement. Whether it is habitable and finished or unfinished, a dry basement will ensure that your home’s structure remains strong and safe — not to mention it may increase your home’s value by a wide margin!
Not only is it common for many vital components of your home to be located in the basement, but you may decide in the future to renovate it into a habitable living space. Many times a basement’s square footage mirrors that of the upper floors, so a livable basement could potentially double your home’s square footage!
However, even if you have no plans to renovate your basement, it is still essential to keep it dry. Moisture in your basement can rot away vital building materials which can threaten your home’s structural integrity. Mold and mildew may also develop and can be toxic to humans.
Clearly, it’s important to keep your basement dry, but what causes a wet basement in the first place?
Causes of a Wet Basement
Poorly graded soil or soil surrounding your house which is level or slopes back towards the house can lead water alongside the foundation and seep into the house.
Cracks in the foundation can allow water to flow into the basement.
Blocked gutters or missing downspouts can cause water to pool along the sides of the house and into the foundation.
These are just a few of the many potential causes of a wet basement. There are several options you may pursue to fix this issue.
Yard Methods of Waterproofing
Create a slope that extends downward and away from the foundation wall using a shovel, rake, and wheelbarrow. Usually, a five percent slope is recommended for best results, and be sure to keep any soil away from the siding.
Another option is to create your own drainage system of catch basins that receive downspout water and move it away from the house via sewer pipes. The best-case scenario is to move the water as close to the property line as possible.
If you live in an area that is prone to flooding and have windows that sit below grade, you may want to consider building waterproof barriers that act as dams in case of flooding. The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends using watertight masonry barriers or earth berms in flood-prone areas.
Exterior House Methods of Waterproofing
If your property doesn’t permit you to build barriers or dig out slopes, you may need to consider making changes to your house’s exterior to prevent a wet basement. Damp-proofing or waterproofing the foundation wall is a common way to prevent moisture in your basement. Damp-proofing involves applying an asphalt-based material to the foundation wall, whereas waterproofing can be a bit more involved. To waterproof your foundation wall, a thick material is usually sprayed onto the wall and any cracks are completely filled to avoid leakage.
You may think fixing your gutters is the least of your worries when waterproofing your basement, but it is actually one of the most effective methods of waterproofing your basement. This should be one of the first things you do when waterproofing your basement because you could potentially save thousands of dollars in damage to your foundation just by fixing your gutters.
Interior Methods of Waterproofing
Ideally, you want to use exterior methods of waterproofing first and foremost. In a perfect world, you will not have to make any interior changes to waterproof your basement. However, this is not always possible and sometimes you must turn your attention to your house’s interior to solve a wet basement.
Sump pumps are devices installed into your basement or crawl space that sit on standby until heavy rain begins to accumulate water surrounding your house and potentially leak into your basement or foundation wall. This water funnels into the sump pump water basin and is then drained into a nearby storm drain or retention pond.
Dehumidifiers are another simple way to ensure your basement stays dry, but may not necessarily aid in the event of flooding.
A wet basement can lead to many problems within your home, but there are options for you to consider to solve this issue in a timely and effective manner. If you are in the area surrounding Richmond, Virginia, head over to our website to schedule a free virtual consultation on your home repair project today!