Oh dear. It’s winter, and the wet basement smells damp again! In fact, it’s getting to the point where you don’t want to go down there any more – but you have to, in order to check the furnace and clean up some of those water leaks from time to time. Here in Toronto, many of the older homes suffer from chronic wet basements and it’s not only annoying, but removes a whole level of a home that could be a perfectly good living space.
While some basement water problems are beyond a homeowners control, like rising water tables and hydrostatic water pressure on the foundation, there are several things you can do to try and keep your basement as dry as possible.
Let’s Take a Walk Outside First
Basements get wet due to rainwater intruding through the ground around them, especially when gutters and downpipes discharge large quantities in a small area. Inspect your water drainage system all the way to the discharge gullies. If the water is pooling above or near your basement, you can bet your last dollar its filtering further down too.
About the Window Wells …
Do you find water pooling under or running down nearby a basement window? Well then, you’re probably looking directly at the problem. Digging out and replacing an old window well can be quiet a mission. But you could probably make the problem disappear by attaching a plastic bubble for less than $50, excluding labor, sealant and a few screws.
Not Solved Yet? Let’s “Crack” the Problem
Water is a mighty curious thing. When it spots a crack in a basement wall from outside, it’s just has to pay a visit to see the view from within. If the cracks are less than two millimeters wide you could have a go with silicone – or hydraulic cement if the gap is bigger. Just make sure you rake out everything that’s loose, and do the job when the gap is dry and dust-free too. This can be a tricky fix, if it looks like anything other than a hairline crack, you may want to call a basement waterproofing contractor to come and seal it properly.
On to More Serious Matters
It can happen that the integrity of your basement wall has failed in places, and that the water’s permeating directly through it. The correct solution is to expose it on the outside, and water-proof it properly so the problem goes away. If you’re between jobs (or a little cash-strapped maybe) you could apply a sealant on the inside. Rest assured though, the problem will return.
Finishing Off the Job
After you’ve stopped the water penetrating (at least for now) you need to get rid of the remaining moisture, unless you like musty smells and mould. Your sure-fired winner is a heavy duty energy-rated dehumidifier. But don’t go cheap, or you’ll soon be buying another one.
Still Not Fixed?
If your wet basement problem won’t go away (or soon returns) you need to face up to the fact that it’s beyond your scope of work and time. There are a variety of options ranging from weeping tiles to sump pumps. The work is technically advanced. It’s time to call in a basement waterproofing expert to ensure a long term fix to your water problems.
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