basement waterproofing

Important Questions to Ask When Waterproofing Your Basement

When you’re about to have your basement waterproofed you should take the time to find a reliable, professional waterproofing company to handle the job and make sure they stand by their work.  Here in Toronto, basement waterproofing is a big business due to the age of the homes in Toronto, along with the weather extremes.  Since it is such a big business, there are many unqualified and inexperienced people selling waterproofing services.  Most lack the necessary insurance and equipment to do the job properly and sell extended warranties that they have no intention of honouring.

When getting estimates, there are also several important questions you should ask before deciding which company to go with. Below is a list of questions you may want to have answered before waterproofing your basement.

  1. Is the company licensed, insured, and bonded?

One of the first questions you should ask the waterproofing contractor is if they’re licensed, insured, and bonded. You want to be sure you’re dealing with a legitimate waterproofing company and find out if any permits are required by the city. Be sure the company’s employees have liability insurance and workers compensation protection.  If a waterproofing company and its employees working on your property are not properly insured, all of the responsibility and liability will rest on the homeowner and their insurance if there is damage or personal injuries during the project.  Also, many homeowner’s insurance plans will not pay damages if it is revealed that you hired an unlicensed, uninsured company to do work on your home.

  1. Do they waterproof homes from the outside?

The better waterproofing companies will offer both interior and exterior waterproofing systems depending on the home’s unique needs. It’s a good idea to ask the contractor which method they will use and why it’s the best for your situation. Even though an exterior waterproofing method is more expensive it’s generally regarded to be the best as it protects the home’s foundation. Remember, you’re looking for a long-term solution to your problem, not just a quick band-aid fix.  Many smaller companies do not have the equipment or experience to do exterior waterproofing so they will always sell you on a crack injection solution or interior waterproofing solution even if it is not the best solution for you.

  1. Can they provide references?

Don’t be too shy to ask the contractors if they can provide you with references to call regarding their workmanship. In addition, don’t be afraid to call the customers they refer you to.

  1. What type of warranty do they offer?

It’s important that you find out exactly how the contractor backs up their work. You need to know what’s under warranty and for how long, such as labour and materials. Be sure to go through any contracts with a fine-tooth comb and ask questions to have everything clarified. Don’t be afraid to back out of a contract if you’re not comfortable with any of the terms. A lifetime transferable warranty is the best since it stays with the house no matter who owns it. Also, ask if the sump pumps used are guaranteed for life.  When asking about warranty information, it’s important to find out how long the company has been in business as many new waterproofing companies have never had to honour a warranty before and have no idea the work and responsibility involved in offering one that you intend to stand behind.

  1. How long have they been in business?

If the company has been in business for quite some time then it must be doing something right. You’ll know they have experience in waterproofing and have enough clients to be successful in their profession.  Look for companies with a long track record, especially when it comes to honouring the warranty.

  1. What will my home look like after the waterproofing?

Some homes need extensive repairs with an exterior excavation or an interior drain system and you want to make sure everything will be done professionally and neatly. You don’t want your home looking like a disaster area after the work has been completed.  Let them explain to you what will happen after the project is finished and who is responsible for what.

  1. What else can I do to stop a leaky basement?

Good contractors will gladly assist you by sharing their knowledge about leaking basements. They’ll be able to give you several tips to keep your home as dry as possible. These tips will likely regard your eavestroughs, spouts, drainage system, and window sills etc.

  1. Can I have your office and/or website address?

A professional waterproofing contractor should have an office like any other type of business and may also have a website. You don’t really want to have your basement waterproofed by somebody who’s working out of their car or garage.  Good luck trying to find them if something goes wrong.

Most of the above questions regarding waterproofing are quite straightforward and a good contractor should have no problem answering them honestly.  Nusite Waterproofing has been providing basement waterproofing services in Toronto for over 30 years.  We offer free, in-home written estimates and pride ourselves on our customer service and commitment to quality.  Contact us today to schedule your free estimate.

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.