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While a well-waterproofed and well-drained basement is a great place to create quality relaxation space for families, the converse is unfortunately more often true. Many Toronto homes sit on top of basements that have become nothing more than a home for mold and water. This obviously can have an adverse effect on your home’s market value as well as a decreased quality of home enjoyment for you.
Although waterproofing is an integral part of any wet basement solution, the key also lies in draining rainwater away before it filters down. Beware of thinking that all that’s needed is a roll of water-resistant membrane though. You have to control the flow of water down the roof and eaves, and through the gutters and downpipes too. Water will flow and navigate to the path of least resistance, which often times is in and around your foundation.
Beginning at the Top
When it comes to waterproofing you begin on the top of the roof where the surface water comes from. Few homeowners can imagine a thousand gallons an hour (close to four thousand litres) cascading down it in a heavy rainstorm.
To prevent this becoming ground water that converts to a wet basement, you have to have an adequate guttering system below your eaves to lead it far away from the foundations below. Hydrostatic power is a force that’s been known to crack waterproofing defenses – and even foundations if they’re poorly constructed.
Inspect your roof drainage system regularly and keep it clear of all obstructions. If you find water pooling within six feet of your house, then it’s vital you re-slope the ground to guide it away.
Getting Down to Business
Under normal circumstances rainwater saturates the upper ground layers and washes away into rivers or down streets. Unfortunately builders often scupper this by backfilling around basements with rubble. This acts like a gigantic sieve that allows hundreds of gallons to flow down to the bottom of the excavation, were it collects almost like a dam.
This sucks the earth on top into the airspace in the rubble, creating a natural hollow that attracts even more water. There is only one solution. You must re-gradient the garden near your house and install concrete drains to lead the water away safely. If you don’t, you’ll likely have a very hard time getting rid of your basement water issues.
The Foundation of the Matter
These preliminary steps are a great start but hardly the end of the matter. No matter how hard you try there will always be ground water, and this is the hardest to crack because you can’t prevent it. Good builders install drainage systems at the level of basement foundations, cast concrete floors over membranes and securely waterproof the walls themselves.
Some don’t bother, or do a quick-fix job that will last a few years, long after the builder has been paid. Five, maybe ten years later the inevitable happens. The new owner goes downstairs to find their basement flooded and can’t figure out why this has suddenly happened.
Back to Basics
Most of these fixes aren’t cheap fixes. There’s only one way to fix a wet basement, and that’s by digging out the backfill and installing a decent footing drain. This collects the water as it filters down from above, and leads it away to a sump pump or daylight according to circumstances. After that, it’s a relatively simple matter of waterproofing the outside walls with membranes, and backfilling with less permeable material.
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