Wet Basements: Understanding Your Waterproofing Options

Construction & Contractors Blog

A wet basement can lead to interior damage, especially in finished basements or in storage areas. It also can raise the humidity in your home, leading to dampness throughout and an increased chance of mold and mildew. Fortunately, you have several waterproofing options that fall into two main categories – interior or exterior. This guide can help you determine which method is best for you.

Basic Waterproofing Options

Exterior options for basement waterproofing include the addition of drain fields or the application of an exterior membrane or waterproof coating. There are generally more interior options to consider, including interior coatings, epoxy crack filling, subfloor drainage systems, or baseboard channels. Interior options are often less expensive, although not always.

Exterior Waterproofing

Opt for exterior waterproofing if you want to ensure there will be no future problems. It's most suitable for ongoing severe leaks inside the basement, or to rid your home of permanent basement dampness. Exterior waterproofing does require more time, since the ground will need to be excavated down to the base of the basement foundation.

Once excavation is complete, the waterproofing contractor will either install a waterproof membrane to the outside of your basement walls, or they will apply a thick coating of an epoxy sealer. If drainage around your home is also a problem, they may construct a drain field near your home or install French drains around the perimeter of the house as they fill in the excavation.

Interior Solutions

These solutions are generally only good for infrequent leaks, such as those that occur after heavy rains, mild wall dampness, or leaks caused by damage to the basement walls. The type you choose depends on the type of leak, and sometimes a combination of methods is done.

  • Baseboard Channels: These channels, often consisting of pipe and gravel, are installed along the interior perimeter of the basement, where they then route water into a drainage system. These are mainly used when leaks occur where the basement wall meets the floor.
  • Crack Filling: Cracks sometimes open up on basement walls, allowing water to seep inside. Filling the cracks with an expanding epoxy sealer fixes the problem. Crack sealing is often used in conjunction with other exterior or interior waterproofing methods.
  • Interior Coatings: Waterproof sealers or paints only provide mild control on their own. They can help block moderate dampness that seeps through walls, but they won't stop major leaks. These are often used with other control methods.
  • Subfloor Drainage Systems: This system is for basements that suffer major leaking through the floor. A system of drains or a drainage field is installed beneath the floor, and then a new basement floor is installed above the drainage system.

If you still aren't sure which option is best for your leaking basement, contact a local waterproofing contractor like Central Penn Waterproofing. They can help you locate the main source of the leak so you can narrow down your options to the best fix.



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