Many homeowners face the problems associated with a wet basement such as mildew, black mold, wood rot and a damp smell. Mildew and mold are dangerous to the health of the occupants of the house. Wood rot threatens the structural integrity of the house. A damp smell in the basement wafts through the house and makes the entire house smell bad. Water entering the basement of a house can do a lot of damage. Repairing the damage caused by water is much more expensive and difficult than preventing the water from entering the home in the first place. There are several basement waterproofing solutions available ranging from a coat of waterproofing paint to exterior remediation to CWM – crystalline capillary waterproofing material.

How Does Water Get In?

One way water enters a basement is through cracks or holes in the foundation walls or floor along with areas that lead outside, but do not have an effective seal. The most common way water enters a basement is through hydrostatic pressure.

What is Hydrostatic Pressure?

Foundations oftentimes are made from what is commonly known as cinder blocks or masonry units or concrete. Cinder block and concrete have extremely tiny holes and pathways throughout the block and under most circumstances do a very good job of keeping water out of a basement. If you live in an area that is wet often or if you live near a lake, river, stream or underground spring, the soil outside the basement walls becomes saturated. As the soil or dirt becomes saturated, it expands and becomes mud. The mud on the outside of the foundation wall begins to exert excess pressure on the cinder block and as the pressure increases the water enters through the tiny holes and pathways in the cinder blocks and concrete walls and straight into your basement. The water is basically pressed into and through the concrete or cinder block. So do not drive yourself crazy if you can’t find a crack or hole in your foundation – hydrostatic pressure is the likely culprit.

What Can You Do About A Wet Basement?

Crystalline waterproofing material or CWM creates a barrier through which water cannot flow. Basement waterproofers mix crystalline waterproofing material into a slurry and apply it to the basement walls. CWM acts as a top coat and more on foundation walls. Masons and waterproofing professionals also add CWM to new concrete when building in damp areas to prevent water from entering a basement through hydrostatic pressure. Adding a layer of CWM will make the cinder blocks non-porous. Water will have no entry way to come into the basement when CWM is applied to the walls correctly.

How Does Crystalline Waterproofing Material Work?

After the slurry is applied to the basement walls, it penetrates the cinder block at the surface level. As the hydrostatic pressure builds from the outside and presses water through the masonry units, the water comes in contact with the CWM. As the water touches the CWM, crystals grow to plug the tiny entrances in the cinder block. As more water, from the hydrostatic pressure touches the newly formed crystals, more crystals form and plug the tiny holes. This process never stops. Essentially, crystalline waterproofing material continues to grow new crystals and creates a barrier that blocks any seeping water from entering the basement. CWM will plug hairline cracks from house settling also. The waterproofing material will not help if the cracks or holes are larger than approximately 1/8 inch. The walls will require patching prior to the CWM application.

How Is Crystalline Waterproofing Material Applied?

Typically, waterproofers will sandblast or power wash basement walls to remove layers of paint, dirt and debris, leaving a clean cinder block wall. If the area cannot be sandblasted or power washed, it is scrubbed with a wire brush until all former coatings and debris has been removed from the walls.

The walls are then vacuumed and inspected for any holes, cracks, loose and crumbling mortar or damaged blocks. Repairs are then made to the foundation walls to fill cracks wider than 1/8 inch and plug holes. Damaged mortar is chipped out from between the masonry units and replaced with new mortar. Any foundation walls repairs are left to set and dry for two to three days, sometimes longer if the basement is very humid and damp.

Masons, waterproofing professionals and some handy homeowners, spray the basement walls with water section by section until the cinder block is thoroughly wet. The crystalline waterproofing material is then mixed into a pliable, thick paste known as a slurry. As the CWM is being mixed it begins to heat up. After scooping the CWM up on a thick, wide masonry paintbrush, a layer is applied to the foundation walls. The mason or waterproofing professional will keep the wall wet for the next two days to give the waterproofing material crystals a chance to grow and penetrate the porous basement wall.

Crystalline Waterproofing Material Can Also Be Used with New Concrete

 Concrete workers mix CWM into new concrete during the pour or spread a powder over newly laid concrete. Crystalline waterproofing material is a self sealing remedy for any area that may have a problem with water entry in the future.

To Do List When Remedying a Wet Basement

Always clean the mold and mildew off the walls.

Set up a dehumidifier in the basement.

Check pipes and hoses to make sure there are no leaks that are adding to the basement dampness.

Clean the gutters to prevent water from spilling over the sides, running down the side of the house and soaking into the ground next to the basement walls.

Direct downspouts away from the house, so the water won’t settle into the ground next to the foundation.

Slope the ground away from the house so the water runs down the slope and not down the foundation walls. When the ground is sloped correctly, it will be higher next to the house and meet grade a foot or two away from the house.

If the mold, mildew, wood rot and damp odor is a problem in the basement, address it before it becomes a health issue for you, your family or the structure of the house.