If you think your basement is perfectly waterproofed forever, then think again. If you’re home is in a location with a high water table, like here in Toronto, leaky basements can be a chronic problem….especially for older homes.Take a look at the illustration below. While everything may have been perfect the day the builder handed over the keys, foundations do settle, and joints can wear out. Let’s work through the picture point by point, starting from the top to see where water can potentially enter your basement.
- Window Wells – Your waterproofing’s only as good as the quality of your window well. There’s absolutely no point in trying to waterproof it from the inside. You must ensure that the surround is high enough to keep the ground water out, that the drain is kept clear, and that the window itself is well caulked and jointed.
- Tops of Walls – It’s not uncommon to find water entering at the top of the basement wall where the main building rests. This is usually because rainwater is finding its way in. Assuming this is something that’s developed recently it’s likely that the earth is piled higher than it should, or that a recent alteration has caused the problem. Fix the problem where it starts.
- Basement Walls that are ground-retaining are usually cast in concrete. As they settle, cracks may develop. The holes where the concrete formers were secured during casting can also open up, inevitably causing water seepage too. First priority is to excavate the outside of the foundation and waterproof the foundation from there. If that’s not possible, then the only option is a proprietary internal sealer that will need to be replaced from time to time.
- Pipes – Pretty much the same goes for holes made through walls where supply pipes and drains penetrate. The water that’s still inside the wall when you seal it will eventually break down the water-soluble ingredients of the material. The only counter for this is regular inspection and joint replacement.
- A Weak Concrete Mix may result in water finding its way through a porous section. If this is only a small area there’s a possibility of chopping out and replacing. If not, then the only option is to work within the situation, by leading the water to a sump pump from where you can pump it away.
- Coves – These are the joints where the walls rest on the floor. Unfortunately the systems builders install in an attempt to avoid problems become blocked by debris over time. The answer is to either unblock them, or to install new french drains and a sump pump.
- By far the toughest nuts to crack are fractured concrete floors, or water welling up though them. This is because there is seldom any chance at all of reaching the source of the problem. In this case, you really do need to call in a basement waterproofing specialist. You’ll likely have to evacuate the area if it’s used as living space, as it will remain uninhabitable until a proper waterproofing solution is implemented.
Severe basement leaks are hardly jobs for amateurs. Unhealthy damp can cause respiratory problems and result in permanent mold. Underground damp’s not going to go away. In fact it’s only going to get worse. Call in a basement waterproofing specialist, before there’s permanent damage done.
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