The process of waterproofing your basement is different for everyone. Most of the time, you’ll choose a preferred method based on the severity of your basement’s leaks. How do you know, though, when it’s time to waterproof your basement? Furthermore, what kind of options do you have available to you?
It’s not always easy to tell whether or not your basement is leaking. If you suspect it is, head downstairs after a Missouri rainstorm. If you don’t see any standing puddles, keep an eye out for some of the following:
Increased levels of humidity – If you think your basement is leaking but you can’t find puddles of standing water, don’t dismiss your initial concerns. Instead, install a humidistat in your basement. If you notice the humidity rising, water is getting into your home. It will be more difficult to locate leaks at this point, but you’ll know it’s time to start looking.
Cooler temperature – One of the reasons the winter months are cooler than the summer months is because there’s more precipitation in the air. The more water gathers in the air, the cooler an already-cold environment becomes. Your basement, which is underground, is already cooler than the bulk of your house. If you notice it growing colder than normal, you may have a leak somewhere that’s letting water in and making the environment more difficult to heat.
Fogging windows – Comparatively, summertime will see your basement become a little foggy. As water droplets on your walls or on the floor turn into water vapor, they’ll try to escape your home. If you have gutter windows, that water vapor will gather in those spaces.
Warping door frames – Long-term exposure to water is not a good thing for wooden structures. Your door frames, specifically, will start to suffer if exposed to precipitation run-off for too long. Are your basement doors sticking when you try to leave the house? If so, take a look at your door frames to see whether or not they’ve warped. If they have, you’re going to want to try and find the locations of leaks in your basement.
Damaged belongings or materials – In a similar vein, exposure to water will damage any items you’ve stored in your basement. Precipitation of all sorts will curl the edges of paper documents that have been improperly stored and will eat away at fabrics. Keep an eye on your belongings after a Missouri rainstorm to see for yourself whether or not your basement is leaking.
Mold – Damp air feeds mold particles that have made their way into your home. If you spot mold around the joints of your foundation, you’ve been dealing with a leak for a long time. Do what you can to eliminate the mold before calling a contractor, as stuck-in mold may be compromising the health of anyone living in your home. After that, call a contractor to seek out waterproofing solutions ASAP. If you don’t, the mold cultures will return, no matter what steps you take to remove them.
Bad smells – On a more superficial level, mold, dampness and damaged goods do not smell good. If you notice your basement is smelling worse than usual, take a look around. Often, the smells will be a side effect of rotting belongings or mold cultures, two other symptoms of a leaking basement.
Wet Wall and Floor Solutions
Are you noticing any of the aforementioned symptoms of a leak in your basement? If you are, then you’re going to want to consider waterproofing your basement. The good news is that you have several options available to you.
Before anything else, you need to decide whether you’re going to choose an interior waterproofing solution or an exterior waterproofing solution. Your various interior waterproofing solutions include:
French Drains – These drains will collect water around the basement’s perimeter. They are best paired with a sump pump system to pump the water out of your basement and back onto your lawn. They are temporary solutions that work best when your home has been graded, or when it rests at least six inches above the rest of your lawn.
Drainage Mats – Drainage mats are temporary solutions that serve as physical barriers between precipitation and your belongings.
Sealants – Sealants typically keep your basement waterproof for a year or two, as long as you only experience minor leaks. You can talk with the contractor of your choice to determine what kind of sealant will suit your home best.
Dehumidifiers – Dehumidifiers are temporary boons against damp walls and a humid basement. These tools will pull water vapor from the air, after which you can empty them manually back outdoors. Your contractor may also have a self-draining unit, so be sure to check with him.
Exterior Waterproofing: the Process
If your basement frequently floods, or if you’ve had to vacuum up puddles of water before, you’ll want to invest in a more comprehensive waterproofing solution. This may mean waterproofing your home from the outside.
The exterior waterproofing process can take up to a week, depending on the size of your home and the severity of previous leaks. Generally, though, contractors will take the following steps to secure your home:
Excavating the earth around your home’s exterior foundation