Where I live in Toronto, basements can get wet quickly due to the age of the homes as well as the crazy weather we experience. A damp or wet basement can certainly lower the value of your home as well as pose health and danger risks to those living in it. If left unattended, moisture can easily destroy the walls and floors as well as lead to destructive mold.
Some wet basements are simply the result of clogged gutters, but it could be a more serious problem such as surface or underground water seeping into the building or water entering from storm drains. Water can cause severe damage to a home and the longer you leave it the more damage it will cause. It is important to seek out a high quality home renovation contractor to make sure the water issue gets fixed.
Here are eight ways of helping keep your basement as dry as possible.
- Installing Gutter Extensions
If the downspouts of your gutters are emptying rainwater within a five-foot radius of your home you should install metal or plastic gutter extensions to guide the water further away. You can also solve this problem by installing a drain pipe under the ground. This can be done by digging a sloping trench which will direct the water away from the home.
- Plugging all Cracks and Gaps
Water can seep into a basement through cracks and gaps around the plumbing pipes. These can typically be filled in with polyurethane caulk or hydraulic cement. Plugging holes is an effective way of stopping runoff from wet soil or the surface. However, if water is entering the basement at the joint where the walls and floor meet or through the floor then plugs won’t be effective since the problem is being caused by groundwater.
- Restoring the Home’s Crown
If you’ve plugged any cracks and your gutters are fine, but you’re still seeing water seep into the home from the top of foundation walls it means the surface water isn’t properly draining away from the home. The house should be sitting on a ‘crown’ of soil which slopes a minimum of six inches in all directions over the first 10 feet. The soil around a building’s foundation settles over time, but it can be built back up with dirt and a shovel.
- Reshaping the Home’s Landscape
The home’s siding should overlap the foundation slightly. If the crown is built up you could feel the soil is too close to the siding if it’s not at least six inches away. In this case, you can create a mound of dirt, known as a berm, or a shallow, wide ditch called a swale. These options are both designed to redirect any water before it can reach the home. Swales are typically used for larger properties since a great deal of soil would be needed for a berm.
- Cleaning Footing Drains
If water is seeping into the basement where the walls and floor meet or low down on the walls it’s usually because of hydrostatic pressure which pushes the water upward from the ground. If this is the case you should check to see if you have any footing drains installed. These are underground pipes which are used to carry water away from the home’s foundation and were installed during construction. You should be looking for a cleanout pipe that has been capped several inches above the basement floor or a drain or manhole in the floor. If these are clogged, the pipes can be flushed out with a garden hose. An augur may be needed though if the hose isn’t strong enough to do the job.
- Use a Curtain Drain
If the home doesn’t have footing drains or you can’t get them to work, you can divert the underground water by installing a curtain drain. This is similar to a French drain as it is a shallow trench which is one-and-a-half feet across and two feet deep. It’s filled with perforated piping and gravel. The piping is designed to intercept any water uphill of the home and it carries it down the slope and away from the building. If the drain has to navigate through bushes or trees you can use solid piping to keep any roots from growing and clogging it up.
- Pumping the Water from the Inside
If you can’t keep water out of the basement it will need to be pumped out from the inside. An indoor drain system can be created by digging a channel around the floor’s perimeter, otherwise known as an interior weeping tile system. The concrete can then be chipped out and perforated pipe is installed. This piping will drain the water to a collection tank at the low spot of the basement and it can be sent outside via a sump pump. This is often an ideal solution for an unfinished basement that is easy to access. It’s also recommended for landscaped yards which may be ruined by an outdoor drainage system.
- Waterproofing the Walls
The water may be removed from the home via an indoor drainage system, but the walls won’t be waterproofed. You’ll need an exterior waterproofing system to achieve this such as a French drain and exterior waterproofing. This involves excavating around the home and is often the best method if the foundation has numerous cracks. Everything is kept to the outside of the home and it won’t disrupt a finished basement.
Damp and wet basements are caused by indoor humidity and/or water which seeps in from the outside. The methods of keeping your basement dry will depend on the cause of the damp/wet basement and how serious it is.