Basement or crawlspace waterproofing is essential to a clean, safe home. It prevents mildew, mold, floods and insect infestations, among other things. In order to properly waterproof your basement or crawl space, you need to understand how unwanted water seeps into these spaces in the first place.
Common signs that water is invading your basement or crawl space are:
- Peeling or discolored paint
- White, chalky mineral deposits
- Rust on metal appliances or fixtures
- Damp or discolored areas on floors and walls
- Bowing or cracking on below grade wall surfaces
- Rotting wood on exposed framing, cabinets or trim
- Visible mildew, mold or a musty odor
There are many ways by which water can seep into your home. Stormwater runoffs, accumulated rainwater, condensation, and humidity are a few things that cause damage through moisture buildup.
Common Ways Water Enters Your Home
Over the Footer
Water can seep through the crack between the footer and the wall sitting on it. Left unchecked for too long, it can make the basement space unusable for recreation or storage. It can also significantly damage your home’s interior.
Through Cracks in Mortar Joints and Walls
Hydrostatic pressure, which is caused by excess soil moisture, can crack mortar joints and walls. In most cases, the water seeping into the block walls isn’t visible. It only becomes apparent when it’s built up inside the blocks, causing molds, mildew and other problems.
From Window Sills or “Sweating” Walls
Walls “sweat” due to excess moisture, which causes water to pool inside. Likewise, when excess moisture accumulates in window sills, it may also seep into your basement.
From Under the Footer
Often, a small space is left between the basement floor and the footer during construction. This causes pressure to mount under the structure, which in turn causes the water to find its way through the small spaces in your basement.
Through Floor Cracks
Sometimes, excess water creates pressure in the soil directly beneath your basement. This causes the water to seep through the cracks and onto the floor of the basement.
Once the water gets in, it can cause problems such as:
- Mold and allergies
- Damage to structural foundation
- Loss of valuable living space
- Electrical dangers
- Poor indoor air quality
- Compression or cracking of basement walls
- Damage to furnace and appliances
Now that we have a clear picture of what happens when unwanted water seeps in, what’s the best way of waterproofing a basement or crawl space?
4 ways to ensure your basement or crawl space remains waterproof
1. Regularly Check the Sump Pump
Check your sump pump regularly if you have it installed in your crawl space. Most crawl space sump pumps don’t have an alarm system, making it impossible to detect any problems that occur.
When checking your sump pump, it’s a good idea to manually cycle it. Make sure the sump basin is free of any silt or debris.
Also, install a detection system to warn you of pump failure ahead of time. You can purchase a water alarm from most hardware stores. During installation, make sure to install the alarm inside the sump basin or alongside the sump pump.
2. Check and Clean Your Gutters
Gutter downspouts can cause problems with your house’s foundation. That’s because most of them are designed such that they end up dumping huge amounts of water over the crawl space.
To prevent this, you need to regularly clean your gutters. Experts advise that you clean your gutters out at least twice every year, especially if you live near a large group of trees.
Also, your gutter downspouts should be extended at least 12′-15′ away from your house. You can adjust the length depending on yard grade, property size and the like.
3. Do Proper Yard Grading
Negative or improper yard grading is when your yard slopes toward your foundation instead of away. This causes large volumes of water to accumulate next to your house’s foundation.
To correct a negative yard grade, add soil onto the yard. Make sure to use the kind of soil that allows for proper water runoff.
Also, make sure the soil you’re adding doesn’t come into contact with the walls of your house. Otherwise, you’ll have to deal with termites and carpenter ants.
Slope the grade at least 4″-6″ in the first 10′ away from the house. This will help water flow properly away from your house’s foundation.
4. Install an Interior Perimeter Crawl Space Drainage System
Even after performing the steps above, you may still have problems with standing water. That’s because the water may have moved up through the crawl space floor over a long period of time. It’s also possible that the area may have a high water table.
Luckily, there’s a permanent solution to the problem. You can install an interior perimeter crawl space drainage system to keep your crawl space dry. The drainage system should be installed around the entire perimeter of the interior crawl space.
Also, the perimeter should be filled with gravel to prevent silt or debris from entering the crawl space drainage system. Usually, the drainage system is installed at least 6″-8″ into the ground and feeds into a gravity flow discharge line.
Different waterproofing companies will suggest different types of drainage systems to use. The most common type is the 4-inch corrugated and perforated drainage tile.
Other Ways to Keep Your Basement or Crawl Space Dry
- Add a sill gasket to provide air sealing.
- Protect all untreated wood materials from direct contact.
- Install a drainage plane material or gravel to help channel water to the foundation drain and help relieve hydrostatic pressure.
- Damp-proof the below-grade portion of the foundation to prevent absorption of moisture from the ground.
- Install a protective membrane to reduce water wicking from the masonry wall.
- Install a 6-mil polyethylene vapor diffusion barrier to prevent soil moisture from seeping through the crawlspace.
- When installing slab-on-grade floors, install a capillary break and moisture barrier under the slab floor.
When waterproofing crawl spaces, it’s important to wear protective clothing.
Common hazards in crawl spaces include:
- Pesticide chemicals
- Rusty nails
- Unsanitary water from burst waste pipes
- The occasional spider, snake, rodent, or even raccoon
- Electrocution from unsafe wiring while crawling over wet ground
- Moldy or unsanitary air
The safety gear you can use before entering crawl spaces include:
- A cell phone or a two-way radio
- Battery operated flashlight and spare flashlight
- Respirator, with cartridges rated for fine particulates and organic chemicals
- Protective clothing
- Knee pads
- Eye protection
- Head protection
Waterproofing is crucial to protecting a building and ensuring that its structure is usable for the years to come. The aforementioned tips should come in handy to anyone who wants to waterproof their basements or crawl spaces.
If you need any foundation repairs don’t hesitate to reach out to Granite Foundation Repair. We would be happy to help you fix your issues.