basement waterproofing

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.

Concrete Block Wall Basement in Toronto

Many homes in Toronto and the surrounding GTA have poured-concrete foundations, but some of them are made of concrete block, which is often referred to as concrete masonry units (CMUs) or cinder blocks. The walls of concrete block foundations sit on a footing which is a concrete-poured pad that is wider than the building’s foundation wall. This helps to distribute the home’s weight load. The foundation’s construction starts with pouring the footing inside a trench which contains metal or wood forms. The footing needs to sit lower than the freeze line and possibly deeper if there’s going to be a full-height basement.

 

Foundation Footings

The footing’s thickness and width depends on the construction and size of the home as well as the soil’s load-bearing capacity. During the basement excavation, the first row of concrete block is laid on the footing when it has cured to describe the structure’s perimeter. For foundation walls, the typical thickness of the concrete block is eight inches. However, foot-thick blocks are sometimes used for heavier loads and higher walls. More courses of block and mortar are added in a brick-like pattern until the proper height is reached. At this time, any openings and windows are built and the mortar in the wall is given time to  cure.

If there are hollow cores in the block walls they may be filled completely with mortar, but usually the edges of openings and corners of the wall are filled. In addition, extra strength may be added with steel rebar. Once the walls are finished the basement floor is poured with concrete and the ground floor framing is completed. The foundation is now supported at the bottom and top and it’s backfilled and compacted with soil while construction begins above the ground.

 

Fixing a Leak in a Concrete Block Foundation

Poured-concrete and concrete block foundations both have identical load-bearing strength, but concrete block walls are more susceptible to any type of lateral pressure which can result in seepage problems. This is because water can seep into a basement through concrete block walls via the porous blocks and any cracked mortar joints. It’s recommended that you waterproof a home’s block foundation by installing a waterproofing membrane to the exterior. This method can be done while the building is being constructed or by excavating around it.

The exterior membrane consists of asphalt-modified polyurethane. It’s applied in a thick coating to the exterior of the foundation walls and it created a barrier which helps keep out water. The waterproofing membrane is different than a damp-proofing spray as the spray is a thinner liquid which is sprayed over foundation walls when the home is built to keep condensation out of its interior. The membrane can be improved with exterior drain tile when the water table is high. The drain tile is designed to carry ground water away. In addition, drainage board can be installed on the walls as a method to help protect the exterior membrane by channeling the water downward.

If you don’t have the option of exterior waterproofing, then interior drain tile can help keep a block wall from allowing water through it. This often sees the installation of a vapor barrier on the inside walls which transports any water to the drain tile. This can be kept from view as a finish wall can cover the vapor barrier.

No matter what the reason is for your damp basement, if you have a concrete block foundation that needs to be waterproofed please feel free to contact our team of professional contractors at Nusite. We have over 30 years of experience dealing with concrete block walls in the GTA and will gladly schedule a visit to your home for a free inspection and estimate.

When You Need To Install a French Drain System

A French drain system can be the ideal solution for Toronto area homeowners who are dealing with a wet basement and/or soggy yard. Water naturally flows downhill and always takes the easiest route it possibly can. This concept is basically what’s behind a French drain system as it’s a trench which is sloped slightly and filled with a pipe and round gravel which diverts the water away from the building. The concept was invented by a 19th-century American named Henry French and is still an effective system today.

The French drains gives water an easy avenue to flow through. It runs into the gravel-filled trench and then flows into a perforated pipe which is sits at the bottom of the trench. The water can travel quite freely through this pipe and its emptied from the home at a safe distance. In general, the bottom of the trench should slope approximately one inch for each eight feet in the direction you’d like the water to flow. The water can then be emptied to a drainage ditch, a low-lying section of the property, the street or a dry well etc.

Soggy Property
Those who are dealing with surface water and soggy areas of their property can benefit from a French drain system as can those who suffer from wet basements. When it comes to soggy areas, the French drain, which is also known as a curtain drain, runs horizontally across the property and uphill from the area which you’d like to dry out. The drain doesn’t necessarily need to be deep as most of them are about two feet in depth and approximately 1.5 feet across. If the drain has to pass through treed areas or shrubbery a solid pipe can be used to make sure roots don’t grow into it and clog it.

Wet Basement
With a wet basement, a deep French drain is a good option. This system is also known as a footing drain. It is located at footing level and runs around the home’s perimeter. This enables it to catch the water before it’s able to flow into the basement. These systems are easy to install during the construction of a building, but can also be added later if necessary. If the basement is tall then the foundation footing may be quite a few feet down. In some instances, landscaping, walkways and decks may have to be taken out to install the drain. If there isn’t enough slope for the system to be effective the water may need to be sent via a sump pump to the storm drain system.

French Drain System

Interior French Drain
The interior French drain is designed to intercept the water as flows into the basement and is considered the best option when it comes to a dry basement. If the basement is finished though it means the interior walls will need to be moved before the system can be installed. A channel is cut around the basement floor’s perimeter and the concrete is chipped out. Perforated pipe is then installed all the way around. This sends the water to a collection tank which is sunk into the floor and it’s sent to a storm drain or the yard by a sump pump. The channel contains a thin concrete layer except at the edge and this catches water which may dribble down the wall.

If you’re interested in learning more about French drain systems please contact our team of professionals at Nusite. We’ll be glad to answer all of your questions and schedule a house call to discuss your unique situation. A French drain may be just the thing you’re looking for if you basement is continually wet or your property consists of soggy areas which won’t dry out.

What Basement Waterproofing Is Best

There is one concern that all homeowners with basements have… a wet basement. Chances are if you are reading this article you either, have a wet basement and are looking for a solution or you are worried about having one in the future. No one wants to deal with leaking or flooding in their basement, so it is important to take steps to waterproof your basement before the need arises.

 

If you do a quick search online for waterproofing your basement there are three main solutions that you will find: crack injection, interior weeping tile and exterior waterproofing.

 

  1. Crack Injection – Using a product for crack injection is a common way to repair cracks in your home’s foundation and one of the least expensive. With all of the freezing and thawing that happens throughout the year it is common to end up with small cracks in your basement walls over time. Crack injection is one solution for repairing any of the small cracks that are allowing water to leak through. However, while this solution can keep water from entering your basement it is a temporary solution.

 

Crack injection does not address where the water is coming from so you will continue to have water trying to enter your basement and it will eventually find a new route. A long term solution will still be necessary. While this can help keep water out for a short time, it is not truly a long term waterproofing solution.

 

  1. Interior Weeping Tile (French drains) – A solution that is a step up from crack injection, is installing interior weeping tile. Just like crack injection, installing interior weeping tile is not a true waterproofing solution, but more of a way to manage the water that has entered your basement. This system is also known as an interior French drain, which is not named after the country, but the creator Henry Flagg French.

 

When installing an interior French drain in your basement you have to break up the concrete flooring around the perimeter of the basement. Once that has been completed crushed stone is put down and a drain is install that will pull the water to a sump pump. The sump pump then works to drain water away from the house. It is important that each step is completing correctly using the right materials or else you could end up with a clogged drain and a wet basement.

 

When installed correctly interior weeping tile can help to manager any water that enters your basement. This method is more effective than crack injection, but is still a water management method instead of actual waterproofing. This is a popular solution for wet basements because it is more affordable than exterior waterproofing.

Exterior Waterproofing

 

  1. Exterior Waterproofing – With all of the options out there, exterior waterproofing is the only way to truly waterproof your basement. The process is the most extensive of the methods that we have mentioned but also the most effective when installed properly. Exterior waterproofing stops water from entering your basement and helps to eliminate wet walls.

 

To install an exterior French drain you need to dig a trench around the entire perimeter of your home. This can mean removing shrubs, plants and patios if needed. A French drain system is installed to drain water downward and away from the foundation. While the dirt is removed from the foundation a waterproofing membrane is added to the exterior of the foundation. The combination of the waterproof membrane and the exterior weeping tile system keep water from working its way into your basement.

 

While the other methods work to properly manage the water when it reaches your foundation, exterior waterproofing also works to keep the water from getting to your foundation in the first place.

 

Choosing the best waterproofing method for your basement

When considering which method of waterproofing is the best for your basement it is important to weigh all of the factors. Make sure to consider not only the expense of the repairs and installation but also the way that the water is entering your home. It can be well worth investing a little more into your basement’s waterproofing now to avoid a problem in the future.

 

If you are interested in speaking with a professional on the best options for waterproofing your basement call Nusite Waterproofing today. With free estimates, written guarantees, flexible financing options and a 30 year A+ rating from the BBB, we have you covered for all your basement waterproofing needs.

leaking basement Toronto where basement floor meets wall

Water leaking through top of foundation wall

As a waterproofing contractor here in Toronto, I’m often asked what is the most common cause of a leaking basement. But first, I want you to conduct a small experiment for me.

Take a used tin can (baked beans, peas, whatever) and remove the bottom end. Then, place the open-ended can in a cooking pot that’s a little taller than it. Hold it down as you slowly fill the pot with water to just below the top end of the can. While you watch:

  • Water seeps into the can past the bottom end
  • The rate increases as the outside water-level rises
  • Finally, the water levels are the same on the inside and the outside

Two things are relevant here. First, there was no seal between the bottom of the tin can and the cooking pot. Secondly, the water found a way inside the can because of what’s called hydrostatic pressure.

Basement Basics

A basement is comprised of two separate structures which are by definition underground. These are:

  • A concrete floor set in an excavated space (the “cooking pot”)
  • A rectangle of four walls standing on it  (the “tin can”)

If you were to fill the excavated space with water, this would place hydrostatic pressure on the structure. In turn, this would seek relief by entering the basement through the concrete floor and walls. These may be well waterproofed; however, as the structure settles, the joint between them weakens and gives way to water pressure.

And that, my friend, is the most common cause of leaking basements. In fact, it’s almost built into the basic design. Just like your camping tent in a storm, the leak is usually at the seam.

 

Interior weeping tile system image

Interior Weeping Tile System

How to Avoid the Problem

Do you remember how the flow of water into the tin can increase as the water level rose? The same is equally true of a leaky basement. The correct solution is installing an outside drain at floor level. This leads the underground water away as it arrives, so it never builds up enough pressure to become a problem.

In the basement water-proofing industry we call this a weeping tile or french drain system. They’re simple to install during initial construction, but a messy job to repair and install after construction. Getting a certified and insured waterproofing contractor is important if you think you may need this type of work.

Basement First-Aid

In my decades in the basement repair business, I’ve come across countless botched repair jobs involving water-proofing interior basement walls. While waterproofing your foundation can be effective if done properly, if there is an outside water source placing constant pressure on your foundation, it probably won’t last. The hydrostatic pressure invariably dislodges the material, especially since the area was inevitably damp when the seal was applied.

The only solution that’s effective is an interior water-catchment system that feeds a sump pump to an outside drainage point. It’s expensive though. However, it’s also better than abandoning a working basement, which could otherwise add good value to your home.