DIY Basement Waterproofing

Wet basements are among homeowners' biggest complaints. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, most basements will start to leak within 15 years of construction. A wet basement presents a number of problems, some of them major. Wet basements will contribute to rot, provide a breeding ground for insects, promote the growth of mold and mildew (which can be serious health hazards), increase heating costs for the whole house, cause allergies and decrease the value of your home. There are a range of options for drying out your basement and keeping it dry. Which of these you can complete without hiring a contractor depends on your skills as a do-it-yourselfer.

Eliminate Excess Water Around the House

Check your gutters and downspouts to make sure they are free of debris and working properly. Make sure the downspouts lead the water at least 10 feet away from your foundation. Add flexible extensions to the downspouts if you need them to discharge water further from the foundation. Examine the area around your foundation, looking for pavement or soil that slopes toward the house. Pavement and soil should slope at least 10 feet away from the foundation. Remove pavement that is sloping the wrong way and replace it. Regrade the soil around your foundation, if necessary.

Fill Cracks and Holes

Water gets into the basement through cracks and holes in the foundation or through hydrostatic pressure, where the weight of water in the ground around your house forces water into the basement. Examine your foundation from the outside and look for cracks and holes. Fill them with hydraulic cement, following the manufacturer's instructions. Hydraulic cement expands as it dries, which helps form a waterproof repair. Look for cracks and holes in the walls and floor of the basement. Fill them with hydraulic cement.

Seal the Interior of the Basement

There are dozens of products available to paint on the inside walls and floor of your basement to help prevent water from getting through the concrete. Clean the walls and floor, removing crumbling cement, and the remains of any paint or other substance that have been applied. Apply the waterproofing material to the walls and floor following the manufacturer's directions.

Install a Sump Pump

Sump pumps are installed below the floor in a pit. Water drains into the pit and when there is a sufficient amount, the sump pump goes on automatically, pumping the water out of the basement through a hose. This installation requires cutting a hole in the concrete floor and digging a hole for the sump pump. Since this is backbreaking work, and since not all basements are suitable for this solution, you might want to bring in a professional, at least for a consultation.

Dig a French Drain

A French drain is essentially a trench filled with gravel covered by coarse sand around the outside of your foundation. The trench may or may not house a perforated plastic drain pipe. A French drain directs the water away from your foundation before it gets into your basement. This is probably a job for a contractor, but a very skilled do-it-yourselfer with the right tools would be able to accomplish this project.

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