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Keeping Water OUT of Your Basement

A common problem in old or even new (or newer) homes is that of water leaking into the basement via foundation walls (and slabs). In this post we will look at practical steps of alleviating that issue from the beginning- focusing on walls.
Water will nearly always “find a way” to enter into a basement (or crawl space) at some point in the life of your home. There are many factors that contribute, but this post considers some generalities.
Some of what is detailed is preventative and results from the construction process and products. Other solutions are to help with the potential end-result of water leaking into the basement.
1. Every foundation and home is truly site specific. Your soil type as well as the grading and topography of the land will make a large difference as to how much water may get into your basement.
2. A slight grade away from the foundation walls is the ideal scenario. Having your house sited at the base of a hill is likely a recipe for problems. Building in a borderline floodplain zone is also not ideal.
3. Building code is the minimum requirement, in all cases. There is a difference between “dampproofing” and “waterproofing” an exterior foundation wall surface. Pay the extra for a spray-applied actual “waterproofing”. It is more likely to hold back water.
4. In addition to waterproofing, use a combination drainage/insulation board at the outside wall surface. These rigid insulation boards have built-in channels which will help drain water down to the footing and the exterior perimeter drain pipe.
5. Check out a new concrete reinforcement which takes the place of rebar in a wall, and also minimizes cracks within the concrete. “HiperLon” fibers, made by ICF Concrete Additives, are a newer product which has been shown to significantly reduce hairline or larger cracks in concrete. All concrete walls will crack to some extent; it is part of the curing process. “Any crack is an easy avenue for water from the exterior to finds its way into your basement. HiperLon will reduce most cracking, and offers builders a faster and cheaper alternative to typical rebar reinforcement,” states construction consultant and ICF independent sales representative Dave Creesy.
6. Should you get leaks via cracks, make sure first of all that it is not a structural concern. If you have a crack that is ¼” wide or more, you should get a structural engineer to do a thorough inspection to determine if you have bigger problems. However, it the cracks are more superficial or just a nuisance due to water intrusion, there are various types of “fixes” available. Some can be applied by a crafty homeowner, whereby others are normally done by specialty contractors. Hydraulic cement can work in some cases, but for the worst water problems, hire a professional who will come to inject a 1-part or 2-part specialty epoxy into the crack(s). These epoxies have a fairly high level of success, but you can expect to pay $600 or more per visit.

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Posted in Blog, Building Materials, Concrete Construction

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