The title begs a further question, and that is what you intend to use your basement for. If it’s little more than crawlspace then by law it’s unfit for human habitation, and you may just want to maintain a modicum of decency. However perhaps you have in mind to convert it into useful room? This generates a different scenario.
That being the case, you need to face up to the reality of basements. They are beneath the surface and regularly admit groundwater unless properly designed and managed. When this happens at the very least damp penetrates, followed by ugly mildew and often potentially unhealthy basement mold.
As an add-on you may also find the structure of your basement beginning to decay. This is because bricks, mortar and concrete are not designed to be permanently damp. Adequate waterproofing is usually the only option for the responsible Toronto homeowner, especially if they hope to use their basement as an extension of their home.
Causes of Leaks
Moisture is always present underground – and especially during rainy periods. It penetrates through basement walls and floors whenever any of the following conditions exist:
- Inadequate waterproofing of exterior walls during construction
- Cracks caused by expansion and contraction as the seasons come and go
- Joints opening between walls and floors due to foundation settlement
- Openings created to allow access for water pipes and cables
- The general failure of the building medium due to initial poor quality
Signs of Damp
Depending on the extent of your damp problem, this can manifest in a variety of ways. Gradual permeation is associated with higher levels of humidity especially during rainy periods. Specific leaks are indicated by the presence of water. This can trickle down the walls and collect below, work its way up through the floor or dribble out from the joint between the wall and floor. It’s never a good idea to ignore these symptoms because of the long-term consequences.
What to Do About It
The internet is full of so-called miracle cures. Some may work temporarily provided the problem in minimal. However just like King Canute they all inevitably fail. The reason for this is simple. Basement leaks are only fixed at the source, and in this case the origin is on the far side of the wall where the moisture’s pushing in from. Think about it. On which side would you patch a leaky dam or a sinking rowing boat?
To summarize yes you do need to waterproof a basement if it’s leaking (if it’s not, it’s already properly waterproofed and you need to do nothing but monitor the situation). Otherwise the optimal solution depends on the extent of the leak and the use you put the space to. If you have a problem you could be wise to take advice from a basement waterproofing expert. Or else you could end up throwing your good money after bad.