Water In Your Basement?

Spring Showers bring more than May flowers, they also bring water into basements. Let’s explore the construction of the typical basement and the best solutions for this nightmare.

In the Midwest, basement walls are almost exclusively constructed from poured concrete. At the bottom of the foundation wall is a concrete footing, typically 20″ wide by 10″ thick with a groove in the center called a keyway approximately 1 1/2″ wide by 1″ deep. Around the perimeter of the footing the is installed and covered with stone. Next the concrete wall forms are set on top of the footing centered on the keyway.  Then concrete is poured in between the forms which are typically held together by metal rods running through these forms. Once the concrete sets the forms are stripped away and the rods are snapped off flush with the concrete walls, leaving the majority of the rod remaining in the wall.  Once the concrete is set, the forms are stripped away. After 2 to 3 days the wall is ready for damproofing or waterproofing.
Typically the walls are damproofed, the area where each rod remains is spot patched with tar and then the entire wall is covered, often times by spraying with a tar like coating. This is called damproofing, not to be confused with waterproofing. Understand that this damproofing is a part of the system that keeps water from infiltrating your basement. Another critical part of this system is the drain tile. This is a 4” perforated corrugated flexible plastic pipe that is laid outside and alongside the footing (bottom of the foundation wall) typically in a loop ending at an enclosed pit that collects the water. When the water reaches a certain height in the pit a submersible pump () then pumps the water out and away from your house.

A third and equally important part of this system is the proper grading of the ground surrounding your home. The ground should be gently sloped away from your home on all sides. Driveways and patios that have sunk over the years and now slope to the building are a delivery system for water into your basement.

When it rains the majority of the water should follow the slope away from the house. The remaining water will find its way down through the soil to the drain tile which gathers it and carries it to the pit where it is pumped up and away from the house. Problems occur when water runs down against the foundation and finds a crack or a rod that was not patched or after years of exposure has rusted sufficiently to allow water to travel alongside the rod, and into your basement.

Originally the foundation was sealed on the exterior and all surface type repairs should be done from the outside, which entails a lot of digging and landscape issues. Enter the epoxy repair. The repair crew will typically clean out the crack and starting at the bottom inject an epoxy into the crack moving injection points upwards approximately 12” at a time until it is full. This method is designed to stop the water before it gets near the inside of the wall and typically will come with a lifetime guarantee.

Another method employed is allowing the water to leak through the wall and immediately catching it in a membrane which is placed around the perimeter of the wall. The water is then channeled into a pit where it collects and can be pumped out. You will see this technique used a lot on older foundations where you have multiple leak points.

Lastly the most expensive remedy and far superior is waterproofing the exterior with a rubber membrane or a blanket that contains a type of product that expands and blocks water infiltration when it becomes wet, such as a Bentonite blanket. Of course this type of repair requires the entire exterior of the foundation be dug up down to the drain tile which can now be inspected, repaired, and/or replaced as needed. The foundation is cleaned of any dirt clinging to it, pressure washed and inspected from the outside. Spot repairing any suspect areas should be completed after inspection and then the blanket or membrane is installed. The wall is then backfilled with dirt compacting as you go. The landscaping should not be reinstalled at this point no matter what the visual condition of the ground is, because the ground will settle, sometimes dramatically.  After several months and substantial rain fall the ground should have settled to a point where you can begin to add your landscaping. I caution you that the technique used to backfill along with the type of soil and the the amount of rain will greatly affect this process. The more time passes the more settling that will happen.

There are products on the market claiming to stop leaky basement walls, most do not work over time. Leaky foundation walls are a job for the professional, especially if you are repairing it and then plan on the basement.

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “Water In Your Basement?”

  1. Pokey says:

    I feel so much hapiper now I understand all this. Thanks!

  2. Iona Midden says:

    Was looking for Report. Was’t issues i was first specifically trying to find when Naturally i did some searching Google or bing your site emerged turf would be seen versus eachother plus thought i’d perhaps thanks a lot.

  3. I just want to say I am just very new to blogging and site-building and honestly enjoyed your web page. More than likely I’m planning to bookmark your blog . You really come with very good articles. Thanks a lot for sharing your blog site.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: