What to Expect with Basemenet Waterproofing

A wet basement can be a homeowner's nightmare.From a finished basement that’s soaked to an unfinished basement with persistent leaks or dampness — water is no friend to your home.If you’ve experienced leaking walls, floors or cracks in your home’s basement, it’s likely you need the help of an experienced basement waterproofing contractor to design a basement solution. But you’ll quickly find there are a variety of choices in basement waterproofing repairs or systems designed to tackle the problem, as well as opinions about which one is the most effective.How's the water getting in the basement?If you’re noticing water in your basement, investigating the solution should start outside your home. Make sure all your home’s gutters, downspouts or other drainage systems are working effectively and diverting water away from the home.The grade of soil around the foundation should encourage water to flow away from exterior walls, not toward them.“Roof drainage and having a positive grade away from the foundation are both very important,” says Bruce Phillips of Phillips Basement Waterproofing in Columbus, Ohio. Basement windows should be also be above ground-level and tested to ensure they have a watertight seal.Stopping any water problems that originate from gutters, downspouts or the grading around the foundation can help you avoid a flooded basement and spending thousands of dollars on basement waterproofing.“Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance,” says Bill Sackenheim of Jaco Waterproofing in Fairfield, Ohio. “Keep gutters clean, downspouts away from the house, do not build mulch beds up too high - keep water flowing away from the home as much as possible."Get bids from several companiesIt’s a significant investment to hire a contractor to perform basement waterproofing: minor repairs can cost as little as $300 to $500, but more complex systems can cost as high as $2,000 to $20,000 depending on the problem and how much area it affects. According to recent Angie's List reports, the average homeowner spends $7,215 on basement waterproofing.That’s why it’s important to get several estimates from different companies. And be aware that some competing basement waterproofing companies prefer to rely on sales tactics, not quality repairs, to obtain customers.“You want a company that makes a thorough evaluation of the inside and outside of the home,” says Matthew Stock of U.S. Waterproofing in Chicago. “If they’re only looking at one issue, rather than the whole picture, that should be a red flag.”Scare tactics or high-pressure sales approaches should be avoided. “Get several estimates, don't allow high-pressure sales pitches to sway your decision and ask around for someone you can trust," Sackenheim says.What basement waterproofing system works best for you?Basement waterproofing contractors tend to agree: one size doesn’t fit all.“With basement waterproofing, each situation is unique,” says Wade Weeks, a manager with Basement Restoration Technologies in Cincinnati. “You should avoid systems that were not designed specifically for the situation you have.”Every basement water problem is unique and the solution should be tailored to the job.“The majority of our basement problems are a combination of events, not one thing that one system would fit,” says Terry Chubb of Chubb Construction and Basement Waterproofing in Wickliffe, Ohio. “It could be cracking or deterioration of the basement walls, movement in the foundation walls, improper backfilling when built, clogged footer drains or deteriorated sewer lines.”Types of basement waterproofing solutionsWhat type of basement waterproofing repair system you choose to install is dependent on your home’s unique situation and construction, including what type of foundation system is in place. It’s also important to note that in many cases, not just one type of repair, but rather a combination of approaches, may be necessary.Waterproofing primer or paint productsOne waterproofing repair that most contractors did not recommend was waterproofing paints or primer. They said that sealing basement walls that have leaked produces little more than a cosmetic solution if the source of the water problem isn't addressed.Crack injectionsThis repair approach is generally only suitable for poured concrete foundations where seepage is originating from the walls (and not floors). Masonry foundations, such as brick, stone or cinder block are not ideal candidates.Injecting an epoxy or polyurethane material into a crack can help prevent water from entering the basement, but some basement waterproofing companies regard this solution as a temporary fix and not a permanent solution.*Typical cost of crack injections: $300 to $500 depending on the size and length of the crack.Exterior excavation waterproofingExterior waterproofing involves excavating 6 to 8 feet down to the foundation wall footer and correcting drainage by installing new drainage tiles or a French drain system. At the same time, waterproofing companies will also typically apply a waterproof material or membrane to the exterior wall’s surface to make sure that water doesn’t infiltrate it again.Depending on the number of areas affected by water infiltration, exterior basement waterproofing - also known as positive side waterproofing since it deals with the source of water or hydrostatic pressure - may involve one wall of the foundation, or multiple walls – which would increase the project’s overall cost.Due to the extensive excavation required, exterior basement waterproofing is often more expensive than other methods. However, it carries the advantage of excluding water from the home and requires little to no ongoing maintenance once the project is complete.“You’re stopping the water from penetrating the wall and entering the basement,” Chubb says, adding that 95 percent of his company’s work is exterior excavation waterproofing.The downside, other than cost, is the disruption to the home’s landscaping and attached features such as porches and driveways. Be sure to ask about what your property will look like after the work is complete.An exterior basement waterproofing company that takes a comprehensive approach should have a plan in place to minimize the impact to your home's appearance. Exterior excavation may also be a poor option for homes that are situated in a high water table area, Chubb says.*Typical project cost for exterior basement waterproofing: $80 - $100 per linear footInterior excavation waterproofingContractors say homeowners often choose an interior waterproofing method because it costs significantly less than exterior waterproofing. “It’s the most common and least invasive system,” Phillips says.Interior drain system waterproofing will address hydrostatic pressure – that is, the pressure of groundwater forcing its way through the basement walls or foundations. Because interior perimeter drain systems deal with water after it has entered a basement, it may be referred to as negative side waterproofing.Some contractors also prefer the terms “water control” or “water management” since these systems primarily deal with water in the basement after the fact, rather than preventing it from entering the home.“It’s jackhammering the concrete floor to install new drainage and a sump pump system,” Sackenheim says.Systems vary, but typically a contractor will excavate a trench 4 to 18 inches wide within the perimeter of the basement. Drainage tiles or piping is then installed, routing water from seepage areas to a sump pump system. To remain effective, the pipes or drainage tiles must remain free of obstructions or clogs; some contractors will install access ports for maintenance.Another key part of the system is a working sump pump to actively remove water once it has entered the home. With this type of system, waterproofing contractors also suggest that a backup battery-operated sump pump is an essential consideration to prevent water from overtaking the basement during power outages.While interior excavation and drainage systems are less costly than exterior systems, they’re not without their drawbacks. Excavating in a finished basement obviously presents issues for a homeowner and some contractors advise that there’s a possibility of structural damage when compromising the integrity of a concrete basement floor.*Typical project cost of interior excavation waterproofing: $50 - $75 per linear footEditor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally posted on May 4, 2012

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Foundation Check after Winter

     The effects of winter can be harsh on your home's exterior. One highly rated provider shares three home repairs to look for when winter gives way to spring.The effects of winter can been harsh on homes on the East Coast, especially on homes’ exteriors, which include windows, chimneys, roofs and siding. In order to address these issues, you will need to get a professional who can offer both sound advice and hands-on repairs to a multitude of issues that can arise after the snow, ice, wind and cold temperatures have made their departure.Below are three home repairs to look for when spring rolls around.

1. Check for leaksThe most important aspect of a post-winter home inspection should involve checking to see if any water has entered your home via the roof, windows or chimneys. Specifically, you should look for areas with leaks, water spots or rotting wood – including trim around windows and doors, fascias, rakes and soffits.Any rotten wood should be replaced. Also, be sure to check the caulk and replace it as needed. Additionally, any effects of water damage on the interior of your home (affecting the drywall on walls and ceilings) should be repaired.

2. Look for cracksBesides checking the windows and roof for leaks, a professional should look at concrete, stone or brick around the exterior of your home for gaps where water might have penetrated, frozen and expanded. If this had occurred, a larger gap or crack might have been created, causing an even further chance of a leak.This is a common occurrence on top of chimneys. The “crown” of a chimney is the mortar on top of a brick chimney. It stops water from running down the inside. If the crown is cracked, there is a possibility that it could cause further damage to the brick, which could result in a potentially extensive repair.

3. Ensure proper drainageFinally, all homeowners should have taken the time in early winter to properly drain exterior hose bibs and shut them off – if not, they risk frozen pipes. The danger with frozen pipes is that the water inside can expand and pipes may burst. If that occurs, you will need to have your pipes replaced by a professional.When turning water back on in the spring, take care that no water has frozen and created any new leaks. After a harsh winter, it’s wise to have a professional check to make sure that your home has made it through the season unscathed. Any of these problems left to themselves could create much larger problems. 

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