basement waterproofing


Do you have water seeping through your basement floor?  Many homes in Toronto do, this is largely due to the age of the homes here as well as the fact many parts of Toronto sit on top of high water tables from the many underground rivers that flow under it.

Basements are an inevitable target for water. That’s because they’re underground, and there’s almost always moisture somewhere nearby waiting to get into your basement through a crack or seam.  If you think of an inground swimming pool, that’s what a basement is, except it’s trying to keep the water out instead of in. While a well-built, properly water-proofed basement could remain dry almost indefinitely, many others fail, because the foundation was not properly waterproofed in the first place or the repair job was more of a bandaid rather than a long-term waterproofing solution.

Water Leaking into Basement Floor

Diagram of water seeping through basement floor


Reasons for the Problem

There are several causes for wet basements. These can occur simultaneously. For purposes of simplicity we separate them below.

  • Ground Water – This either filters down from rainwater accumulating above, or through horizontal strata in the ground. If your basement damp problem worsens in rainy months, this could be a likely cause.
  • Backed-Up Sewer Pipes – Many older Canadian homes still have storm water run-offs connected to their sewer lines. If your damp problem traces to an overflowing toilet, then you need to modify your drainage system.
  • Leaking Pipes – Some plumbers have a habit of concealing pipes in walls. All pipes have to pass through walls anyway. If your floor stays damp throughout the dry season, then you should call in a plumber to do some tests.

Your problem will most likely be caused by rain water filtering through the earth surrounding your foundation, and coming up against your basement walls and floor where the hydrostatic pressure may be quite intense. If you believe this is the case, your solution depends on a combination of prevention and cure to stop your basement leaks.  When there is too much pressue trying to get into your basement, simple waterproof paint or sealants tend not to work very well.

Before beginning, first tape a sheet of plastic over your basement floor making sure to seal the edges and any joints. Lift it up two weeks later. If the floor’s still damp the water’s rising through it. If not, the problem could be in your walls and you need to look elsewhere.

Preventing Water From Seeping Into Your Basement

There’s little you can do about groundwater travelling horizontally through the ground. You have to deal with it when it arrives, usually with an interior weeping tile system. However if it’s filtering down from the surface overhead, then that’s a completely different matter. Investigate the following:

  • How effectively is the rainwater discharged from your roof? Is it lead away through channels, or pooling in the vicinity of the basement?  Proper runoff from downspouts can help keep water away from your foundation.
  • Does the ground slope steadily away from your home allowing a gentle yet effective runoff?  Grading the spoil to run away from your foundation will help keep water away form your foundation.
  • Turn off your water supply at the entrance to your property. Does the meter stop when everything’s turned off onside? If not there could be a leak in your supply main that’s filtering underground.


Wait a few weeks after implementing the above solutions, preferably during a dry period to let the ground dry out. If there’s still moisture rising through your basement floor you have two options open to you:

  • Remove the surrounding earth and install a weeping tile system that stops the ground water in its tracks.
  • Install a french drain just inside the basement walls, and pump the water to the outside where it can trickle away harmlessly

Water entering your basement through foundation cracks is hardly a DIY project. The work is onerous, and you need protective gear to avoid infections from mold and water borne illnesses.  Besides, is this really the way you want to spend a month of weekends? If you live in Toronto or the surrounding GTA, Nusite Waterproofing can come to your home and conduct a free in-home inspection of your problem and provide you with a written quote.  We can also go over all available options to fix your basement leaks so you can make an informed decision.  Contact us today to get started.


It’s one of every homeowner’s worst nightmares… water coming up from the basement drain. Most homeowners forget about the drain in their basement all together until there is a problem.  Here in Toronto, many of the homes were built decades ago and have issues with water entering their basement.  Many areas of Toronto also sit on high water tables which also make the water issues worse than many other areas.  When you walk down your basement stairs to find water in your basement (a little or a lot) you know there is a problem even if you don’t know exactly what it is.

When your basement drain is backing up it is the telltale sign that you have a clogged sewer line.

Clogs in Your Piping System

Clogs in secondary pipes will cause problems in isolated parts of your house. For example, if the clog is in the lines for your bathroom sink you might notice the sink not draining or the bathtub backing up when you run the water, but you can use water in the rest of your house without a problem. When the clog is in your main line any water that you use in the house is going to cause a problem. Your main line is the one that all water and waste existing your house is running through, so when it backs up in one place it is backing up to all the others.

Warning Signs

Obviously if you have water backing up your drains it becomes obvious that you have a problem, but depending on what is causing the clog in your line there might be warning signs you can watch for before you have a major problem on your hands.

  • Gurgling – Many times when a clog is building in your main sewer line you will be able to hear gurgling sounds coming from your toilets and/or sinks.
  • Odor – If your sewer line is becoming clogged you many notice a sewer odor coming from your drains.
  • Slow draining water – the start of a clog can cause the water to drain more slowly from your sinks tubs.

These are warning signs that you don’t want to ignore. If you notice these signs it is best to be proactive about the problem before you have a complete clog that is backing up into your home.

What is clogging my drain?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to know what is causing the clog in your sewer line, but here are some common culprits:

  • Tree Roots – This is the #1 reason that main sewer lines gets clogged. Trees need water to grow and it’s the job of the tree roots to find that water supply. Roots can expand up to seven times the height of the tree, so if your house is surrounded by mature trees you could have a potential problem on your hands. During drought conditions the roots of trees grow out searching for water and they just might find your sewer line. Each root has smaller hair-like roots growing off of it and they find their way into your pipes from small cracks in the joint. Eventually the roots completely clog the line causing a backup inside your home.  Roots can also wreck havoc on exterior weeping tile systems.
  • Blockage from items that were flushed – Clogs can be caused from anything that is flushed down your toilet that is too much for your sewer line to handle. Some of the main culprits of this are toys flushed by children, thick toilet paper, paper towels and feminine hygiene products.

How do I fix a clog in my sewer line?

  • If you have water backing up into your basement the first thing you are going to want to do is shut off the water. Any water that is being used is going to add to the problem.
  • The second thing you want to do quickly is get any standing water out of your basement and get everything clean and dry. The longer water (or other material that has backed up into you basement) stands in your basement the greater the risk of mold. You need to get everything dry and if you have a finished basement with carpet and drywall and you had standing water in your basement, chances are it is going to need to get tossed to prevent the spread and growth of mold.
  • Snake the basement drain – Use a snake/auger to try to unclog the line from your basement drain. If the problem is right in the pipe you may be able to clear the line from inside of your house. It is important to understand what type of auger you are using and to know what your pipes are made of. Using the wrong tools for the job can cause further damage to your pipes that will be costly to repair.
  • Locate the exterior cleanout – Most houses will have a cleanout located near the exterior of the house, it is typically a white pipe sticking up out of the ground with a cap on it. You can try to snake the main line from this location to break up the clog. If your clog is caused by tree roots a simple hand auger is not going to get the job done, you will want to use a mechanical auger.

WARNING: If you are able to clear a clog from invasive tree roots with a mechanical auger you may have taken care of your immediate problem, but the roots will grow back. If tree roots are the cause of your problem there are options to kill them with chemicals or in some cases it is best to use a camera to determine the location of the problem, dig out the roots, and replace the section of pipe.

Call a qualified basement water specialist – Some problems are better left to the professionals. If you have tried the simple steps above to clear your line and have not been able to resolve the issue it is best to call a professional. Nusite Waterproofing has been repairing basement drain problems in Toronto for over 30 years.  Our licensed and professional waterproofing experts can provide a free in-home inspection and estimate.  Contact us today to learn more.

Here in Toronto, installing exterior and interior weeping tile systems is a very popular option as it can effectively divert water away from your foundation.  Also, improvements to the technology and installation methods have greatly increased their reliability as they traditionally had problems with getting clogged after a number of years.

So why use the term Weeping Tile?  I wish somebody would embargo the term ‘weeping tile’ because perimeter drains are neither tiles, nor do they weep (in fact they do the opposite). In times gone by, they were like that though, or we wouldn’t have the term.

French Drain-Weeping Tile System Image

In case you’re curious, I’ll mention that Romans used to cover their ditches with broken roof tiles. These stopped them blocking, while allowing the rain to filter through. If you looked underneath, I guess it looked as if the tiles were weeping.

A Weeping Tile system can be installed on the exterior of your foundation or in the interior of your foundation along the perimeter of your foundation walls.  Exterior Weeping Tiles will divert water away from your foundation so water never gets a chance to enter your foundation while an Interior Weeping Tile system will divert water away from after it has entered through your foundation, so this is more of a water management system rather than a true waterproofing solution.

Modern Weeping Tile Perimeter Drains

These days, perimeter drains lie at a point where underground water collects and makes a nuisance of itself. You’ll often find them at the bottom of outside basement walls, where they prevent water seeping through to the inside of your foundation. The weeping tiles are actually plastic pipes, with longitudinal slits on top designed to siphon the groundwater away.

Of course, if you just did that, then the earth would block the slits in no time at all. This is why builders wrap the pipes in ground-retaining cloth, and then cover them over with the same gravel chip you find in concrete. This belt-and-braces approach is necessary because digging up blocked perimeter drains is an expensive, time-consuming and messy business.

Weeping Tile System Diagram

How to Know You Need Them

Setting hindsight aside for a moment, you’ll know you need a weeping tile-type perimeter drain if you see water seeping in through the bottom of your basement. Typically, it will come through the crack where the walls rest on the floor. If the wall shows signs of damp higher up, then you have the makings of a dam outside.

Now that you know how these things work, you know that you should have a perimeter drain installed at the bottom of your exterior basement wall before the builder fills the space with rubble. The raw materials are not expensive and are quick and easy to lay down, so insist on it.

It is absolutely essential (the strongest words that I could find) to have a plan where the groundwater goes to after you collect it. If you are lucky, conditions will allow it to soak away naturally. If not, then you must leave a pit with a sump pump at the bottom.

A good long-term waterproofing solution is to properly waterproof the exterior walls of your foundation along with installing an exterior weeping tile system.

What to Do if the System Doesn’t Work

If you find water accumulating in your basement by seeping in from outside, then either you do not have a weeping tile system, or it’s blocked. You have three options, namely:

  1. Put up with the problem (bad idea, this can affect your property value)
  2. Did up the garden and install a new perimeter drainage system
  3. Chip out the floor against the walls, and install weeping tiles inside the room

There are pros and cons to both options 2 and 3. In theory, option 2 is the correct one, although there may be practical considerations that prevent it. If so, then 3 is really the only way to go. You’ll have to accept the fact that you will end up with less usable space, and will also likely end up hiding your interior perimeter drain behind some paneling.

Leaking Foundation?

These are several ways a basement can leak and if the problem isn’t solved it can lead to major long-term damage to your foundation. A proper water drainage system is needed to help fight off basement leaks and this is sometimes a simple solution and at other times it can be a big task. Nusite Waterproofing has been providing basement waterproofing and foundation repairs services in Toronto for over 30 years.  We offer a free in-home written estimate and inspection.  Contact us today to schedule your estimate.

Wet and damp basements are an ongoing issue in Toronto.  Between the weather and average age of the foundations of most homes in Toronto, a leaking basement usually happens to everyone at some point in time.  Add to the fact that Toronto sits on top of underground waterways, then you can understand why most homes have water issues in their basement.

Waterproofing a basement can be expensive if a full exterior waterproofing solution is needed.  So homeowners will obviously look at cheaper alternatives first and one of these alternatives is using waterproofing paint on their basement walls.

Does Waterproofing Paint Really Work?

When it comes to solving the problem of a leaky basement you’ll find there are numerous types of waterproof coatings and paints on the market today. But in reality, these products typically blister quite quickly and then flake off the walls of the basement. They can create quite a mess and once waterproof paint has been applied it’s not that easy to remove. If you have a persistent leak in the basement it should be properly fixed before applying any type of waterproof coating to it as it will not stop an active water leak from permeating your foundation.

If you’re not sure what waterproof paint is, it’s an inexpensive latex or oil-based product that can simply and easily be applied to the surface of a wall. It’s designed to create a barrier which is meant to fight off moisture and water. Most of the products come with a written warranty, but the fact is they’re not very dependable. Instead, you should be looking for a permanent solution to a damp basement instead of the minimal and temporary protection offered by a waterproofing paint.

When you suffer with a leaky basement you’ll often notice a flaky white substance on the walls and floor which is a mineral salt and is known as efflorescence. Moisture can seep through concrete since it is a porous, textured substance which actually contains numerous cracks and voids. Water can even leak through concrete walls which have been waterproofed on the outside with tar as the tar will break down eventually over time. Moisture can enter the home as water vapour and can result in musty odours, rot, mold, and humidity.

When the vapour penetrates the basement it contains minerals from the earth and when they crystallize it leaves a white substance on the floor and walls. Waterproof paints and coatings can’t prevent this though and you’ll likely still be faced with a mold and/or efflorescence problem. Some waterproof paints may be able to work their way into the concrete pores, they’re basically just a covering and can’t penetrate deep enough to keep moisture at bay. Basically, waterproof paint is just a temporary, band-aid solution which may last from just six months to a couple of years at most.

One of the most popular solutions for a wet basement these days is to mechanically attach wall panels with plastic pegs. This system can be used on a variety of surfaces including dirt and stone walls and can often be completed in a day or two. If you’re dealing with a leaky, humid basement in the Greater Toronto Area and would like some advice on how to fix it permanently please feel free to contact us at the Nusite Group for a free on-site inspection and estimate.

Nusite Group has been providing high-quality basement waterproofing solutions in Toronto for over 3o years.  We provide homeowners with free quotes and would be glad to pay you a visit. We’ll perform an on-site inspection of your basement and answer any questions you have concerning your problem. Once we’ve completed a thorough inspection of the basement we’ll be able to offer you our professional advice on the best solutions for your unique situation.

Basement leaking during rainstorm Toronto

One thing that every homeowner dreads is a flooded basement. During the spring in Toronto, along with rainy periods in the summer, we receive hundreds of calls a month for basement leaks after it rains.  The homes in Toronto are old, many have aging foundations that have cracks in them along with drainage systems that no longer work properly.

There are numerous reasons a basement can flood during a rainstorm and if it happens to you these are some tips on how to stay calm during the incident. But before you get started, be sure to contact your insurance company to report the incident and clarify your coverage.

Cut the power
The first thing you should do if you notice the basement has flooded is to turn off the electrical power and gas to the home. If you’re not sure how to do this be sure to contact a qualified electrician or contractor for assistance. If the basement is flooding during a rainstorm, it’s recommended that you wait until the storm has passed before cleaning things up. If the water is coming from a burst pipe be sure to turn the water supply off.

Protective clothing
You should wear rubber gloves and boots for your own protection when dealing with a flooded basement. In fact, chest or hip waders aren’t a bad idea either if you have any. Be careful when moving around as the area may be quite slippery.

Check the drain
If there’s a floor drain in the basement be sure to check and see if it’s obstructed.

Removing water
The best way to remove the water will depend on how much of it is present. If there are a few inches of it you’ll need to use a sump pump or pool pump to get rid of it. If there isn’t too much water you may simply be able to use a mop and pail or a wet vacuum. For any remaining water you can use a sponge or towels to soak it up.

Dry out the furniture
If any of your belongings or furniture has been damaged you should move it to a dry and well-ventilated area if possible to let it air out. Unfortunately, some items may need to be discarded if they become moldy or simply won’t dry out. When it comes to electrical appliances such as lamps, televisions and stereos etc, it’s best to leave them where they are even though the power has been turned off. There’s always a danger of an electrical shock and these items should dry where they are or have an electrician remove them.

Remove carpeting
if the basement is carpeted you’ll probably want to remove the carpeting so the floor beneath it can properly dry. In some cases, the carpeting may dry out and can be saved. If the carpeting remains in place it can become moldy and become a home for mildew.

Ventilate the area
The basement should be ventilated as much as possible to help it dry out. You should open the windows and doors when possible and use fans to circulate the air. A dehumidifier will also help speed up the process.

Wash walls and floor
You should wash the basement walls and floor to remove any dirt from the incident. If any drywall or insulation has been damaged it may need to be replaced before mold and mildew move in.

Ask for assistance
You should call a professional contractor to find out exactly why the basement flooded and how to stop it from happening again. An experienced contractor will also know how to detect any possible unseen damage and to inspect the home for any structural problems or weakness. There may be more damage than the eye can detect and you don’t want to be hit with a huge repair job down the road. It’s always better to deal with the problem as soon as possible to make sure your family’s living space is as safe and healthy as can be.

Other tips
If possible, move all of the electrical outlets to a higher level in the basement. In addition, you may not want to store your valuables down there. Be sure the ground next to the home’s foundation slopes away from the structure and the downspouts and gutters are free of obstruction and discharge rainwater as far away from the home as possible.

Nusite Group is a basement waterproofing company located in Toronto.  We offer free, in-home estimates for waterproofing and foundation repair problems.  Contact us today to learn more.