Leaky Basement Walls
Leaks and squeaks drive homeowners up the wall. Luckily, the source of most leaks and squeaks can be located and fixed with a little patience and persistence.
Although squeaks can be a major nuisance, water leaks cause far more damage. A basement is a prime location for leaks considering the fact that it is embedded into the earth and a magnet for any water from rain or irrigation. All types of foundation are subject to leaks whether it is a block, brick or poured-in-place concrete.
Basements leak for many reasons which include:
- Surface run-off due to poor grading.
- Lack of or defective gutters and downspouts.
- Vegetation too close to foundation walls.
- Blocked drainage at the base of a home's exterior walls.
- A defective or missing footing drainage system.
Preventing Water Damage
There are four simple ways to prevent your home from being damaged by water. They include maintaining proper grading, installing and maintaining gutters and downspouts, reducing the amount of irrigation near your foundation and a properly functioning drainage system. All of these preventative measures are reasonably easy, inexpensive tasks that can be done by most homeowners.
Let us start with proper grading. Proper grading is absolutely imperative. The purpose of grading is to make it so that the soil surrounding the home is draining water away from the foundation. This is a preventative measure against water seeping into the foundation and causing water damage. The grade should be enough to keep the water running in the right direction, which is away from your house. For the best results, the grade should be done for a minimum distance of three feet from the foundation.
The next things you need to worry about are your gutters and downspouts. Your gutters are responsible for collecting water that hits your home and carrying that water to your downspouts where it is then discharged into solid drainpipe that carries the water away from the home and into a non-erosive material or a municipal storm drain system. These components are all essential for a properly functioning watershed system.
Check first to see if your home currently has gutters and downspouts. If it doesn’t, I would highly recommended purchasing them and installing them immediately. If your home does have gutters and downspouts, check to see what condition they are in. If you notice that they are leaking or clogged with debris, clean and repair them. All you will need to clean and repair them with is a garden hose with a high-pressure spout along with a high-quality caulking compound.
Another means of managing water is to reduce the amount of irrigation near the foundation of your home. You can do this by minimizing vegetation that is close to foundation walls. Any and all vegetation that remains should be watered with drip irrigation rather than sprinklers that shed water over a vast area.
A footing drainage system (French drain) is another option for protecting your home against water damage. It is responsible for collecting subsurface water and relieving hydrostatic pressure. This system consists of a perforated pipe surrounded by a belt of gravel. It is located at the base of the footing at the perimeter of the house. Occasionally the drainage system will need to be flushed with a garden hose to remove silt and clogs. Keep in mind, installing a French drain is a project best left to a professional.
A footing drainage system can prevent a lot of harm to the foundation of your home. One of the ways in which is does so is by relieving hydrostatic pressure. Hydrostatic pressure results from groundwater pressing against foundation walls. This pressure can be so powerful that it may pop out the joint mortar between concrete blocks or between the walls and the floor. This will lead to serious problems.
The elements mentioned above are crucial to preventing water from reaching your foundation, but what will protect your home from water that does make it? This is where a sound waterproof membrane comes into play. This membrane is located at the exterior of the basement walls and floor. It is typically applied to the exterior surface of the basement walls during construction. There are various waterproofing materials used in this process which include a built-up asphalt system, single play membranes and other impervious systems.
During construction, a sound proof membrane is typically put into place. The best time to do this is prior to backfilling the area surrounding the basement with soil. The membrane can be protected from potential damage by using rigid foam, landscape fabric or a combination of the two.
Most waterproofing is done from the exterior of a wall, but this leads to problems when it is impossible to install a waterproof membrane to the exterior. For example, if the backfilling has already been done then waterproofing the exterior walls is not possible, nor practical. Fortunately, there are some after-market applications that can be used to combat damp or wet walls. One such method, XYPEX Concrete Waterproofing by Crystallization, has been used primarily for industrial and commercial applications, but is becoming popular for residential use as well. The combination of Portland cement, very fine treated silica and various active chemicals help the concrete become permanently sealed against the penetration of water or liquids from any direction.
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