basement waterproofing

 

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.

Why Your Basement Leaks When It Rains in Toronto

This one’s pretty simple to answer. If your basement starts leaking after it begins to rain, then rainwater is finding its way down through the ground around your foundation.  Your basement is like a swimming pool, except that the foundation walls are trying to keep water out, not in.  As water surrounds the foundation of your home, water finds the path of least resistance and slowly (or quickly if you have cracks in the foundation) finds a way into your basement.

To understand what occurs next, take a piece of raw concrete – this can be any shape – weigh it, put it in a container and top it up with water. Wait twelve hours before removing it and do the following:

  • Weigh it a second time. It will be slightly heavier because it’s absorbed some of the water in the bucket
  • Break the concrete into several pieces and observe how the water has penetrated right through the material
  • Leave the concrete pieces in the sun to dry out. A few days later they should weigh the same as original piece did

Something similar happens when rainwater filters down into the soil surrounding the outside of your basement walls. It gradually saturates them until it reaches the internal surface and oozes through it. This is why it’s so important to channel water away from the foundation walls of your basement. Of course, if you have cracks and other openings, water will start leaking into your basement a whole lot faster.

The Role of Hydrostatic Pressure

This is a term the basement-waterproofing industry likes to bandy around, so let’s take time to understand it. In layman’s terms, it’s the pressure exerted on water at equilibrium – i.e. not flowing – by the force of gravity. The height of the water column acts as a multiplier because of weight. So now you know why dam walls are thicker at the base.

 

Do you have a wall of water building up against your basement foundation?  If water isn’t being channeled away from your foundation, then eventually water will make its way into your basement.  Eroded concrete, shifting foundations (leading to cracks) and hydrostatic pressure will all eventually cause water leaks in your basement if you leave a swimming pool sized body of water against the outside of your foundation.

 

The Only Practical Solutions:

Stop the Problem at the Source – If you can prevent all the rainwater from seeping through the earth around your basement then it can’t enter it. Even if you only reduce this by one-half you achieve more because of the multiplier effect I mentioned above.

  • Slope the garden gently away from your house so there are no places where pools of water can form around your foundation
  • Make sure your gutter system is effective and feeds the roof water through downspouts and away down channels
  • Complete the picture by paving (if possible) the immediate area around your house so the problem is completely excluded or use some sort of natural groundcover that is sloped away from your foundation to help whisk water away instead of letting it seep into the ground next to your foundation.

 

Re-Waterproof the Basement – If you stopped the water leaks completely, that’s great. I’m glad we were able to help you. If not, then here are a few more tips regarding what to do in accordance with the extent of your leaky basement problems.

  • In the case of minor seepage, strip the walls and floor down to raw concrete in the dry season and allow them to dry out completely. Open up and seal all cracks including openings around pipes etc. with underwater epoxy filler. Seal the walls with the best quality waterproofing medium you can lay your hands on. Wait a season to see  how well this works.  You may want to hire a waterproofing company to do it properly as it’s a lot of work to have to repeat.  Just a note, this method is not considered waterproofing as it does not solve the water issue on the outside, just tries to stop water from penetrating your foundation walls.
  • If water still pools on the floor, you can try the less-than-perfect solution of trapping it in perimeter drains and pumping it away. This system (interior weeping tile system) is hardly a pretty sight, but it works. If it keeps the basement dry for an entire year you can conceal it behind some paneling so it can work behind the scenes without you having to see it.
  • If you still have to put your gumboots on when you go down there in the rainy season, then you have groundwater flowing in from surrounding areas. Your only option is to dig down around the outside walls, install exterior drains and membrane the walls. This can be a messy, time-consuming process and due to its nature, should only be done by waterproofing contractors who know what they’re doing.

 

If the latter solution is your conclusion, find yourself a reputable water-proofing specialist and seek advice. Waterproof your basement the way it should have been in the first place because it can be a big project and you don’t want to have to do it again due to shoddy workmanship.  And if you plan on finishing your basement one day, as many people are in Toronto due to real estate prices, then you really need to do it right the first time or else you’ll be stripping your basement down to the bare walls one day to do it all over again.  Have questions about your leaky basement problems?  You can

Have questions about your leaky basement problems?  You can contact us here, we’re happy to answer any questions you have.  Nusite Waterpoofing is a basement waterproofing company in Toronto, we have been serving the GTA for over 30 years and have an A+ rating with the BBB and are one of the highest rated waterproofing companies on Homestars.

 

 

Basement Window Well Repairs in Toronto

Do you see a puddle in your basement every time it rains that seems to be coming in near the top of the wall, dripping or pouring down the wall? If you do, your basement windows may be the culprit.

While a leaky window may seem like a minor issue, these types of issues not only become an annoyance, they can actually promote the growth of mold in your basement and damage your belongings.

Most of the older homes here in Toronto weren’t made to have a livable basement.  Moisture and some water leaks are considered normal, and often times the basement window is the culprit.

Since real estate in Toronto is at a premium, most homeowners want to turn their basement into a livable space.  In order to do this, you first have to remove the water and damp in your basement or else you’ll end up with a damp, moldy basement that nobody would want to use.

Schedule a free estimate for your window well project

The basement window well if often a cause of water leaking into the basement.  This is often due to shifting foundation, rotted wood and caulking, and cracks that develop around the frame of the window well.If you find that your basement window is causing that nagging leak in your basement, here are a few things you can do.

If you find that your basement window is causing that nagging leak in your basement, here are a few things you can do.

Caulk Your Basement Window

If water is coming through a basement window, there are a couple different solutions to discover.  If you haven’t caulked the window, that it is your first line of defense.   Something as simple as caulking the window well could solve your problem.  Keep in mind that if your window has already been leaking for some time, the framing around the window could be damaged and rotting resulting in additional repairs being necessary.

Leaking window well in Toronto home

Install a Window Well

Consider window wells for your basement windows.  A window well is a curved piece of steel insert with corrugated pipe that is used to attempt to block moisture from the window area when it is below grade level and drain away water that enters the area.  If you have a window well but there’s no gravel, you may want to consider adding some gravel inside the well.  The corrugated insert is designed to route the water away but sometimes the well can be overwhelmed by the amount of rain that it receives and can also clog over time, making it useless.

Creating a window well as a means of egress
Window Well Cover

Over time, window wells can become clogged with leaves, dirt, and even snow.  They need to be cleaned out from time to time.  Covers can also be purchased to help decrease the amount of water and debris that enter the window well area.  Do your research and consult a waterproofing professional to find the right cover for your situation or repairs to current window well covers.

Window well cover Toronto home

Adjust the Grade Around Your Window

As we mentioned earlier, the grade outside your home can definitely have an effect on leaking windows.  Grade sloping towards your home can certainly contribute to leaking basement windows and result in a wet or even flooded basement.

Repairing the window won’t stop the leaking if the grade is sloped towards the home or the grade is too high above the window area.  A professional waterproofing company or landscaper can assist you in correcting these issues.  Many times water enters your basement in more than one way or location.  It’s always a good idea to speak with a waterproofing, licensed professional with expertise in waterproofing your basement when dealing with these issues.

window wells are a source of basement water leaks
Check your downspouts

If your gutters are overflowing this could contribute to the leaks.  Also, investigate where your downspouts route the water to when it rains.  If they are pouring out right against the foundation of your home, this could also contribute to windows leaking  This is a common problem and luckily an easy fix.

creating a decorative garden in window well
Install New Windows

If your windows are older, they may need to be replaced.  As mentioned previously, if the leak has been continuing for awhile, the frame around the window may be damaged or rotted and need to be replaced as well.  A shifting foundation can also lead to damage to the window frame and a new window with a proper seal may be needed.

Basement Egress Windows Toronto

You can also consider an egress window.  An egress window is larger than a standard window and is designed to provide an escape route or a way for emergency personnel to enter your home during an emergency.  Check your local building codes prior to beginning this type of remodeling as parameters can differ from area to area.  Many areas now require egress windows if you have or are building a basement bedroom, as a means of escape.

Consider hiring a professional if you install an egress window to ensure the egress window in your basement is installed correctly.  Concrete may need to be cut as well as excavation and this is not a small undertaking.  You will want to make sure your contractor knows what they’re doing and has done this sort of work foundation work before.  As an experienced waterproofing company in Toronto called out to help homeowners address their basement leaks, we see improperly installed egress windows from time to time that do cause water to enter the basement.

Solve the Problem at the Source

No matter which solution is appropriate for your leaky windows, it’s important to note that these aren’t the type of problems that take care of themselves.  Basement leaks do get worse over time and wet, damp, humid environments such as your basement encourage mold growth.  Many homeowners have or develop allergies to mold that make using your basement difficult.  Remediating the mold could even become necessary.  Act now to solve your wet basement by calling your local waterproofing professional company and request
Have questions about a leaking window or would are interested in fixing or installing a window well?  If you live in Toronto or the GTA, contact us here for a free in-home inspection and estimate.