basement waterproofing

Finished Basement With Musty Odour Toronto

Even a finished basement can contain high pollution levels and since these pollutants rise due to their buoyancy they can often invade the living space on the upper floors. Basements often have a bit of a musty smell to them and this is because certain types of wallboard and carpeting absorb moisture through the home’s foundation via a process known as capillary action.

This results in excess humidity and moisture which can be absorbed by the insulation. In some instances, excess moisture can lead to visible or invisible mold in the basement.

If a basement suffers water damage it can result in mold which releases pollutants into the air and can keep growing even after the room has dried. This, in turn, will result in a musty smell, especially if the basement has poor ventilation. Unfinished basements also become musty since they usually contain a certain amount of dirt, dust, and debris which can encourage the growth of mold and bacteria. To make matters worse, invisible particulate matter or debris in the air can damage your lungs and enter your bloodstream and are certainly unhealthy.

Other pollutant causes of a musty basement could include things such as fiberglass insulation, dank crawl spaces, Radon gas, and volatile organic compounds such as fertilizer bags and paint cans. If you notice a musty odour from the basement it’s recommended you have the air tested by a professional or specialist. Professionals can identify the cause of the moisture and smell and come up with a solution to eliminate it, resulting in a healthier and fresher smelling basement.

The aim is to eliminate the moisture from the basement and increase its airflow. If your basement is unfinished with a dirt floor the floor should be covered with a plastic sheet and wire mesh before covering it with a thin layer of concrete. If the basement has a concrete floor you may need a waterproofing solution if water or moisture is seeping into it. If the basement is filled with mold you may need to have it removed by a professional mold removal company.

If mold is left to grow it could eat through basement insulation, wood framing and other structures and materials. A good ventilation system is also needed as it removes the musty air and replaces it with fresh air. You may need to install an exhaust fan along with a dehumidifier/air purifier and open any windows to increase airflow. If you hire a professional to find and eliminate the source of your musty basement there are a few steps you can take to keep the area as fresh as possible once the job has been completed.

Make sure your downspouts and gutters aren’t clogged as water that pools around your home can start to smell unpleasant. You might also want to send the water further away from your home by installing extensions on the downspouts. This will help keep water from seeping into your basement from the ground near the house. You can also keep the basement air fresh by cleaning it out and throwing away all unneeded items which could absorb moisture, mold and mildew. If the basement is unfinished you can then clean the surfaces with soap and water as well as bleach, white vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide.

Some unpleasant odours can be absorbed by items such as baking soda, white vinegar, zeolite, charcoal bricks, and cat litter. If you place one or a combination of these items in the basement the air should stay fresher. Just be sure to replace them every two or three months. Another option is to place an ionizer downstairs. These devices are designed to remove bad odours by releasing ions in the air.  If you plan on hiring a contractor to finish your basement, then you must ensure the damp issues are cleared up before installing your drywall and flooring.

But in the long run, it’s going to be difficult to rid your basement of a musty odour if you don’t find the source of it and have it rectified. If you’re having a hard time locating the reason for your moist or wet basement please don’t hesitate to contact us at Nusite Waterproofing. Our team of professional basement waterproofers will be able to find the cause of the problem and also provide you with the best solution for it.

 

Basement waterproofing systems Toronto

When it comes to waterproofing your basement there are three common methods. These are exterior waterproofing, interior weeping tile, and crack injection.

The most effective waterproofing method is exterior waterproofing as it’s the only method which fully waterproofs a home’s foundation. The exterior wall is sealed and a French drain system, also known as a curtain drain or footing drain is installed. If this method isn’t an option due to access to the exterior or your budget, then the interior weeping tile is recommended.  Interior waterproofing methods are usually used when the exterior is inaccessible like we have with cramped yards here in Toronto, or when cost is a factor.

The interior method utilizes drainage in the basement as a way to control the water by removing it with a sump pump. The crack injection is more of a temporary band-aid solution and is recommended for just small cracks. The water could still seep into the concrete behind the cracks with this method and the foundation may erode over time. The best way to find out which type of system you need is to contact a professional waterproofing company.

Exterior Excavation
The best way to keep water out of a basement in the first place is via exterior excavation to the bottom of the home’s foundation and around the perimeter of the home. The proper type of drainage system is installed and the walls are treated to keep water at bay. Structural engineers believe this is the best option since it keeps water out rather than simply controlling it. A good waterproofing company will examine your crawl space or basement to get to the root of the problem and then suggest the best solution for your specific needs.

With exterior waterproofing, a waterproof membrane or coating is topped by drainage panels. The water flows freely down the panels to the exterior French drain system which sits at the bottom of the home’s foundation. The water is moved a safe distance away from the foundation via a sump pump or by gravity and it is removed through a storm drain, dry well, drainage ditch, or a low-lying area of the property. The French drain is basically a trench which is slightly sloped and filled with gravel and perforated piping to divert the water. The pipe is wrapped in a water-permeable material to keep debris out of it.

Interior Weeping Tile
Water seeps into basements through porous cement-based floors and walls if there’s nowhere else for the liquid to go. If an exterior excavation isn’t possible the next best solution is the interior weeping tile method, which is basically an interior French drain system. Water applies powerful hydrostatic pressure against a basement floor and walls and if it can’t seep through them it will pool at the bottom of the walls and can gradually seep through the inside surface. An interior weeping tile system doesn’t technically waterproof a basement, but it effectively controls the water and channels it away.

A trench needs to be dug around the basement’s perimeter, approximately 18 inches from the walls and to below the footings. Weeping tile is installed and covered with gravel before the floor is re-poured. A sump pump is placed at the end of the weeping tile and removes the water. The weeping tiles attract the water since it gravitates to the lowest point. The water is then carried away before it can rise over the footings and the end result is a dry basement.

Crack Injection
Like the interior weeping tile system, crack injection is really a water-control system not a method of waterproofing. However, it’s a common and inexpensive way for homeowners to seal small cracks in a building’s foundation. This is more or less just a temporary or band-aid solution to keep water out of the basement though as you’re just sealing the cracks. The crack injection method doesn’t get to the root or cause of the problem as it just deals with the result of it. Water will continue to try to find a way to seep into the basement and it can eventually choose a different route.

For more information on wet and leaking basements and the proper solutions for them please feel free to contact us at Nusite Waterproofing. We are glad to provide our Toronto area customers with free home inspections and estimates and will work hand in hand with you to decide on the best option for your unique situation and budget.

Nusite Waterproofing Contractors has been providing basement waterproofing in Toronto for over 30 years.  We are a family business and take pride in our level of customer service as well as our professional work.  You can contact us here to schedule a free consultation and written estimate.

 

A basement needs a proper drainage system to make sure it is kept dry throughout the year. There’s more than one way to install a drainage system and there are also some helpful tasks which can be performed to keep water out of your home. A basement can be sealed on the outside as well as the inside via an exterior weeping tile/French drain system or an interior weeping tile system and a sump pump. In addition, the building should have the proper type of window well drainage and your gutter downspouts should direct the water away from your home’s foundation.

We have been repairing leaky basements here in Toronto for over 30 years and have seen how poor drainage can cause havoc on a home’s foundation.  Toronto in built on a series of underground waterways, couple that with the age of the homes and weather, and you have a perfect scenario for basement leaks.

 

Interior Weeping Tile System

The interior weeping tile system to is designed to stop water from seeping into the basement via cracks in the floor and cove joint, which is the joint between the floor and wall. This system is also effective for water that seeps in through porous concrete walls as well as a masonry wall which has deteriorated or cracked mortar joints. The cracks can be repaired permanently from inside the home by injecting them with an expanding polyurethane substance which seals them. This means no exterior excavating is needed.

Interior Weeping Tile System Toronto

In reality, an interior weeping system can’t waterproof a basement, but it will channel the water away so you never see it. The system is installed along the perimeter of the basement walls and it utilizes a plastic pipe with holes punched in it. The pipe is wrapped in a sheet to help keep the dirt out and is installed at a sloping angle. The weeping tile is covered with gravel and the floor is re-poured. A sump pump is installed at the end of the tile to carry water away before it can rises above the footings. If your basement is finished, the interior walls will need to be removed during installation.

 

Exterior Waterproofing and Weeping Tile Systems

Since the water is on the outside of the home, you can also waterproof a basement from the outside using an exterior weeping tile system along with applying a waterproofing membrane to the outside of your foundation walls.

Water often comes from the soil surrounding the home and enters the basement below the foundation or around it. The soil expands when it absorbs water and some types allow little drainage. The swelling and expansion of the soil can create pressure around the home’s foundation and this can basically push the water through small openings and cracks etc. This type of water seepage needs an exterior waterproofing system to remedy it. Poured concrete foundation walls can sometimes contain porous spots and over time, water can seep through them through these pores and cracks that develop over time.

 

 

When it comes to masonry walls, water can seep through weakened or badly-installed mortar joints. Concrete block and bricks can also allow seepage over time and any type of foundation wall can allow water to enter over its top edge. This is especially true if the grade of your lawn slopes toward your home. The solution to all these problems is an exterior waterproofing membrane which acts as a barrier against the water. This means the foundation will need to be excavated to the footings at the faulty wall or for the perimeter of the building. Loose mortar and soil are then cleaned from the wall and it’s prepared for the next step, which is an asphalt-modified polyurethane coating.

xterior Waterproofing job in Toronto

Once the coating has cured it will form a seamless barrier around the home’s foundation. This is designed to aid the wall’s structural integrity and keep the water at bay. In some cases, an insulating material and plastic drainage board can be installed over the membrane. The drainage board is designed to add protection to the membrane as well as channeling the water downward. The excavation is backfilled after this and the foundation will be protected against water seepage. If the ground water around the foundation is quite high then an exterior drain tile can be installed with the membrane. This will help take pressure off the walls and drain the water.

Nusite Exterior Waterproofing

The exterior drain tile is installed after  the membrane by laying washed gravel at the foot of the excavation. Perforated PVC pipe is then installed along the length of the excavation and drains water or it can be connected to a sump pump. This PVS pipe is typically enclosed in a fabric to keep any dirt out of it. The pipe is covered with more gravel and the area is then backfilled.

In essence, a French drain or curtain drain is a slightly-sloped trench which is filled with gravel as well as a pipe which diverts water away from a home. The drainage system gives water an easy channel to flow through and it drains out at a safe distance from the structure. The drain is typically about two feet deep and about 1.5 feet across.

 

Window Wells and Downspouts

Since the windows in the basement of your home are typically below ground surface, you should inspect them on a regular basis to make sure they’re not leaking any water. The windows themselves and the window wells should be checked for rotting, cracked or broken frames. In addition, you should look for clogged window well drains and cracked caulking. It’s important that the window wells drain properly so you need to keep all debris out of them whenever possible.

In addition, the downspouts of the home should be properly positioned so they can drain the water a minimum of six feet from the structure’s foundation. If the downspouts are presently draining into the sewer system they can be disconnected and aimed away from your home. You should also try to keep an eight-inch distance between the bottom of your downspout and ground level think about installing window wells. It’s important to check the downspouts for leaks and repair them as needed.

If you’re facing a leaking basement there will be a solution available which can be recommended and installed by an experienced waterproofing contractor.  Nusite has been providing residential waterproofing services for over 30 years.  We have an A+ BBB rating and are one fo the highest rated contracting companies on Homestars.  We offer a free on-site inspection and estimate in Toronto and the surrounding GTA.  Contact us today to learn more.

Basement in Toronto

Often, the first question that homeowner’s ask us here in Toronto is whether homeowners insurance will cover the cost of repairing their leaky basement. The second question is whether insurance will pay to replace their lost items or repair their damaged ones. The answers vary and it is always best to check with your individual insurance policy and your insurance agent but there are some important tips to consider to see if your insurance covers a basement leak.

It’s also very important to document everything from the start with images as well as written testimony.  It’s also critical to understand what caused the water leak and to be very clear in explaining it to the adjuster who may come to your home to file a report.  We get called out on many potential insurance claims as the homeowner needs to understand what happened and to have it documented for the insurance company.  Sometimes simply doing a poor job explaining what happened or giving bad information can lead to a rejected claim, even though it may have been valid.  Be careful how you explain what happened!

 

Evaluate Your Home’s Risk

If you have a past history of water coming in to your basement and never had the issue repaired by either yourself or a waterproofing company, the likelihood it will leak again is high.  Once water finds a path into your home, it will come in again.  We often hear comments from people who say it only leaks during periods of heavy rain or sustained rains (more than a couple hours).  Water finds the path of least resistance also, so if you only repaired part of the leak, i.e. patched one crack in the wall, it will travel to the next weak spot.  Another thing to consider is that long dry periods followed by rain is a kind of like the weather is creating the “perfect storm” for your home.  Soils shrinks during long, dry periods and that provides more opportunities, more avenues, for water to come in.

If you are considering purchasing, your home inspector will look for symptoms/signs of previous leaking.  If you notice stained boxes or walls with mold or a white powdery substance called efflorescence or you smell a damp, musty odor, those are all signs they home may have a past history of leaking in the basement or dampness.  If you suspect serious foundation issues, it is wise to call in a foundation contractor like Nusite to perform an additional inspection as it will beyond the scope and experience of a home inspector.

 

Inspect Your Leak’s Location

Where or how did the water come in?  If it came in through a leaky hot water heater located in your basement or a burst water pipe, this is different than a leak from outside.  It is always best to check with your agent to see the particulars and causes for flooding.  It does get cold enough in Toronto for your water pipes to freeze if they are not properly insulated and even when they are, they can still freeze.  Talk to your agent before you have a problem so that you are knowledgeable.  A waterproofing professional can provide an estimate for repair for outside water leakages but typically cannot repair a leak from plumbing or above.  Your agent may ask for more than one estimate for repair to be provided to them.

 

Determine a Solution

Whether your insurance company pays for the repair or doesn’t, it’s important to repair the leak for a couple reasons.  As we’ve mentioned before, once the water comes in, it will come in again.  Talk with a waterproofing professional and decide the best way to repair your problem.  The least expensive repair may only fix your problem temporarily and the most expensive repair may not be any better than the lower priced one. If your leak is coming over the top of the wall, no matter how much time and expense you put into an interior system, unless you fix the grade outside the wall, it will continue to leak.

Getting a second opinion is also part of the insurance process; you wouldn’t get your car repaired following an accident without getting more than one estimate so why does it with your home.  If your homeowner’s insurance does pay for the repairs they may only pay a certain amount.  Don’t let the insurance amount dictate what you pay or who you pay.  As a homeowner, educate yourself in terms of the options and what is best for your specific situation.  Patching a crack won’t stop water coming in under the footer and onto your basement slab.

 

 Limit Your Liability/Reducing Risk

In the waterproofing business, this is a no brainer but for most homeowners, they don’t think about it.  The best way to limit your liability is:  don’t finish your basement without addressing waterproofing.  No matter what the right choice is for your basement situation, whether its exterior waterproofing, interior waterproofing, cracks injections or even adding a dehumidifier, fix it before you finish.  It is all too common for waterproofing companies to get calls with heavy rains where the homeowner says I just finished it and now it’s leaking.  Just because your home hasn’t leaked in the past doesn’t mean it’s immune from leaking in the future.

Contact a licensed and properly insured, professional waterproofing company and have them check your basement before you finish.  A good analogy when thinking of whether your home will leak in the future is to think of it as a snapshot in time.  Your waterproofing professional can only tell you whether it’s leaked before, it’s leaking now or if there are signs of failure in the near future.

When storing items in your basement, don’t place them right up against the wall, even if there’s not an active leaks, moisture can wick through the walls and cause damage to your items.  Also, if it does leak, many homeowners’ only experience minimal leaking where it only comes in a foot or two.  Keeping items away from your walls can help limit the damage.

The best way to insure you don’t ruin your newly finished basement is to pro-actively finish.  Even if you don’t get an active leak, mold can cause heavy damage to your sheet rock and your valuables.  Basements are notorious for humidity and mold issues.  Consider a whole house dehumidifier for your home.  A waterproofing or HVAC company  can install it and route the condensation it collects outside your home, making it as convenient as possible.  Nothing worse than having to empty the pan from your store bought dehumidifier constantly.

Flood Insurance?

Flood Insurance, in Canada, is a hit or miss proposition.  The standard contract recommended by the Insurance Bureau of Canada does exempt floods from insurable damage.  On the other hand, there is nothing that stops and individual insurance company from writing a policy that includes flood damage for their customers.  Commercially, flood insurance is sold to businesses in Canada.

It is best to check with your insurance company to see if it is something they offer.  In other countries such as the United States or the U.K., both flood programs are as a result of government intervention.  Most homeowners in Canada mistakenly believe they have flood insurance and they don’t.  It is always best to read your policy thoroughly and speak with your agent.  Be well advised.  Before purchasing your dream home, find out if your home has been designated as a flood plain.

 

What Happens If the Basement Leaks?

Us waterproofing companies like to say there are two kinds of basements, the kind that leak and the kind that will leak later.  Odds are, your basement will leak at some point if you don’t pro-actively take care of your basement.  With that in mind, the best advice is simply to talk to your agent.  Find out the what ifs.  What if it leaks?  What if my walls and carpet are ruined?  What about mold?  What if I lose my stored belongings?

Most waterproofing companies can provide you with an estimate to share with your agent in the event of flooding but they can’t promise you insurance will pay for the repair.  Don’t assume it’s covered, do your homework now, before something happens.  A little work and research now can save you a big headache later.

Have questions about your leaky basement?  If you live in Toronto or the GTA, contact us here for a free in-home inspection and estimate.

Wet Basement Solutions Toronto

Here in Toronto, basements can get wet quickly due to the age of the homes as well as the crazy weather we experience. A damp or wet basement can certainly lower the value of your home as well as pose health and danger risks to those living in it. If left unattended, moisture can easily destroy the walls and floors as well as lead to destructive mold.

Some wet basements are simply the result of clogged gutters, but it could be a more serious problem such as surface or underground water seeping into the building or water entering from storm drains.

Here are eight ways of helping keep your basement as dry as possible.

 

  1. Installing Gutter Extensions
    If the downspouts of your gutters are emptying rainwater within a five-foot radius of your home you should install metal or plastic gutter extensions to guide the water further away. You can also solve this problem by installing a drain pipe under the ground. This can be done by digging a sloping trench which will direct the water away from the home.
  2. Plugging all Cracks and Gaps
    Water can seep into a basement through cracks and gaps around the plumbing pipes. These can typically be filled in with polyurethane caulk or hydraulic cement. Plugging holes is an effective way of stopping runoff from wet soil or the surface. However, if water is entering the basement at the joint where the walls and floor meet or through the floor then plugs won’t be effective since the problem is being caused by groundwater.
  3. Restoring the Home’s Crown
    If you’ve plugged any cracks and your gutters are fine, but you’re still seeing water seep into the home from the top of foundation walls it means the surface water isn’t properly draining away from the home. The house should be sitting on a ‘crown’ of soil which slopes a minimum of six inches in all directions over the first 10 feet. The soil around a building’s foundation settles over time, but it can be built back up with dirt and a shovel.
  4. Reshaping the Home’s Landscape
    The home’s siding should overlap the foundation slightly. If the crown is built up you could feel the soil is too close to the siding if it’s not at least six inches away. In this case, you can create a mound of dirt, known as a berm, or a shallow, wide ditch called a swale. These options are both designed to redirect any water before it can reach the home. Swales are typically used for larger properties since a great deal of soil would be needed for a berm.
  5. Cleaning Footing Drains
    If water is seeping into the basement where the walls and floor meet or low down on the walls it’s usually because of hydrostatic pressure which pushes the water upward from the ground. If this is the case you should check to see if you have any footing drains installed. These are underground pipes which are used to carry water away from the home’s foundation and were installed during construction. You should be looking for a cleanout pipe that has been capped several inches above the basement floor or a drain or manhole in the floor. If these are clogged, the pipes can be flushed out with a garden hose. An augur may be needed though if the hose isn’t strong enough to do the job.
  6. Use a Curtain Drain
    If the home doesn’t have footing drains or you can’t get them to work, you can divert the underground water by installing a curtain drain. This is similar to a French drain as it is a shallow trench which is one-and-a-half feet across and two feet deep. It’s filled with perforated piping and gravel. The piping is designed to intercept any water uphill of the home and it carries it down the slope and away from the building. If the drain has to navigate through bushes or trees you can use solid piping to keep any roots from growing and clogging it up.
  7. Pumping the Water from the Inside
    If you can’t keep water out of the basement it will need to be pumped out from the inside. An indoor drain system can be created by digging a channel around the floor’s perimeter, otherwise known as an interior weeping tile system. The concrete can then be chipped out and perforated pipe is installed. This piping will drain the water to a collection tank at the low spot of the basement and it can be sent outside via a sump pump. This is often an ideal solution for an unfinished basement that is easy to access. It’s also recommended for landscaped yards which may be ruined by an outdoor drainage system.8. Waterproofing the Walls
    The water may be removed from the home via an indoor drainage system, but the walls won’t be waterproofed. You’ll need an exterior waterproofing system to achieve this such as a French drain and exterior waterproofing. This involves excavating around the home and is often the best method if the foundation has numerous cracks. Everything is kept to the outside of the home and it won’t disrupt a finished basement.

Damp and wet basements are caused by indoor humidity and/or water which seeps in from the outside. The methods of keeping your basement dry will depend on the cause of the damp/wet basement and how serious it is.

For a professional inspection of your home free of charge please contact us at Nusite Waterproofing. We’ll be able to pinpoint the source of a wet basement and offer you our professional opinion and advice on how the situation can be properly rectified at the most affordable price.