Waterproofing Your Basement

Molly GraceJuly 05, 2019

Because water damage can cost you thousands of dollars in restoration efforts, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure when it comes to waterproofing your basement.

If you’ve noticed any musty smells, mold, or warped or damaged floors or walls in your basement, these are signs it’s time to start thinking seriously about protecting your home from the elements, before it becomes a big problem. If left unchecked, a leaky basement can, over time, cause serious deterioration of your home.

Here’s what you need to do.

Figure Out Where It’s Coming From

If you’ve got water leaking into your basement and you aren’t sure where it’s coming from, the first place you should look is outside the home to see if you can find a source.

Make sure the gutters are clean and that water is able to flow freely through them. Check your downspouts and ensure they’re directing water away from the house. If the ground slopes toward your house, causing water from the downspouts to pool against the house, this could be causing your problem.

Check your basement’s interior walls for cracks where water could be seeping in.

If you don’t notice any obvious problems, you may want to consult with a professional to make sure you understand the underlying cause of your moist basement. Otherwise, damage could be done to your home, and you may not even realize it.

DIY Waterproofing

If the problem isn’t too bad, you may be able to fix it – or at least manage it – on your own.

Seal The Cracks

If water is seeping in through cracks in your foundation, you may be able to repair this on your own. While professional solutions will typically hold up better in the long term, there are a few do-it-yourself methods that can be a bit more affordable.

An epoxy crack sealant or hydraulic cement can be useful for sealing minor cracks.You can find these types of sealants at your local home improvement store. Smaller tubes can cost around $10 – $20, while larger pails may cost $20 – $60, depending on the formula.

Redirect Water Away From The House

If you find that water from the roof is pooling against the foundation of your home, it’s generally fairly easy to fix this problem on your own.

First, make sure that you’re keeping your gutters clean. If the gutters become blocked by leaves and other debris, they can overflow and spill out directly onto the foundation below.

Your gutters’ downspouts are meant to deposit the water from the gutters away from your home. However, if the water that comes from the downspout can’t flow in the correct direction due to the ground sloping toward the house, it can pool against the house and leak into your basement.

To fix this, purchase a downspout extender. These are tubes that you attach to the end of your downspout that guide the water away from the house, ensuring that it doesn’t pool against the foundation.

Waterproof The Walls

Waterproofing basement walls can be a simple way to seal your basement walls’ pores, preventing water from slowly seeping in.

To do this, you’ll apply a waterproof sealer to your walls. There are several different types of products you can use to accomplish this, such as masonry waterproofers or waterproofing paint. These types of products are different than the sealants you would use to fix individual cracks, as these act like coatings for the whole wall that you paint on.

Typically, sealers like this will need to be applied to bare walls, so if your walls have been painted, you’ll need to remove the paint before you can apply any waterproof coatings.

Expect to pay around $30 – $60 per gallon for most solutions.

Install A Dehumidifier

If your basement just tends to be fairly humid but a professional can’t find any major issues, you might consider installing a dehumidifier to help alleviate the problem.

If the problem is minor, you may be able to get away with purchasing your own and using that in your basement. However, if you have significant moisture, you might want to consult with a professional about installing a higher powered unit.

Bring In The Professionals

Some jobs are best left to the professionals, especially when your home is at risk. While do-it-yourself solutions may be helpful in the short-term, they don’t always prove to be long-lasting.

If you have bigger problems than you can solve on your own, here are some services that a professional can offer.

Exterior Waterproofing

This is the most effective way to waterproof your basement. Unfortunately, as you may have guessed, it’s also the costliest.

Exterior waterproofing works by preventing water from entering your home in the first place. It generally requires professional excavation around the exterior of your foundation and the application of a waterproof coating or membrane.

Because it’s such a big job, it generally costs between $5,000 and $10,000, according to Fixr.com.

Install A Drainage System

Your waterproofing professional may recommend installing a drainage system to redirect the water entering your home.

As part of this drainage system, they may install either an interior or exterior French drain, which is a sort of buried trench that leads water away from your home. French drains can cost between $1,000 and $1,500.

Interior French drains are typically installed in conjunction with a sump pump, a device that prevents flooding by pumping any water it detects away from the building. For a sump pump, expect to pay between $500 and $1,000.

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    Molly Grace

    Molly Grace is a staff writer focusing on mortgages, personal finance and homeownership. She has a B.A. in journalism from Indiana University. You can follow her on Twitter @themollygrace.