If you own a basement, one of the worst feelings in the world is to discover water pooling in one or more areas. This is the type of problem that is not easily solved by the average homeowner and usually requires professional intervention if the issue is serious enough.
To a certain extent, all basements are damp or have I levels of humidity especially if all sides are located entirely underground. After all, home and basement foundations are constructed with concrete, and concrete is porous.
Partial basements are easier to maintain, but they too can have issues along the ground walls.
If you discover that you have standing water in the basement of the high humidity levels is causing a mold issue, you have to determine where the water is coming from. More often than not, the water is coming in from the water table below your home, and during heavy or frequent periods of rain, the water table rises allowing it to find every possible seam and crack that has not been properly sealed into your home. Other problems may be caused by improper drainage around your home caused by the grade of the yard leaning toward the house foundation or water from gutters pouring out too close to the foundation.
If you are having issues in your basement, address them completely before trying to finish it out, else you will be tearing out your work in the future searching for water entering your home.
Here are several things to focus on.
Grade of Landscape
The layout of your yard should not be sloping toward your foundation. If you have a new home, the builder should have graded it properly by creating a slight incline away from your home. Even if the home is located at the base of a sloping hill, the builder should have created a slight trench in the yard at least 10 – 15 feet away from the foundation. By trench, I do not mean anything that is noticeable, simple a low spot that will allow gravity to channel water toward the center of the yard and away from the home.
The good news is that this issues is easily solved with either some hard work with a shovel, or hiring a landscaper to grade the yard properly with a skid steer.
Install a Weeping System
All new homes should include a weeping system around the base of the foundation especially if there is a basement involved. If your builder does not do this, insist on it even if it adds several hundred dollars to the price. The materials to install a weeping system of relatively inexpensive and it is much easier to put in place while they are building the foundation and no landscaping is in place.
A weeping system is simply a perforated PVC pipe that is laid in gravel at the base of the foundation wall. Water drains through the soil into the pipe which is then carried away underground to another location on your property.
Weeping systems will not only drain rain water that seeps into the soil, but will prevent the water table from rising and entering cracks in your basement.
Weeping Tile Drainage
Downspouts and Drainage
I will assume you already have functioning gutters on your home. If not, that is definitely a situation that needs to be addressed before doing anything else. Gutters are imperative to moving water off your roofline and channeling it away from your foundation.
Make sure there are no leaks or low spots in the gutters. When gutters are installed, they are run at an ever-so-slight angle toward downspouts to allow gravity to take the water in the right direction. Over time, the spikes that hold gutters in place can come loose causing the middle portions to sag which will leave standing water in the gutters.
If the water is entering the downspouts appropriately, make sure you have the water exit away from the house at least six feet. The best option is to connect PVC corrugated pipe to the downspout and direct it away from the house underground as shown below.
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Seal Concrete Walls
Concrete is a porous material so it is important to seal any outside walls with a concrete sealer. These sealers mix up similar to cement and are applied with a heavy brush.
The hardest part of this job is removing the dirt down to the base of the foundation to seal the entire area. If you are having serious water issues in your basement, this will probably require a professional crew to get it finished in a reasonable amount of time.
However, it can be done by a DIY'er with rented equipment, but it will take a lot longer.
If you are going to seal your concrete walls, make sure you install a weeping tile system at the same time while the dirt is pulled away from the foundation.
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If you live in a really wet area, and have constant water issues in your basement, you need to attack the issues from many angles. Along with a weeping system, proper drainage and sealing the outer walls, you should install a sump pump buried inside the concrete floor of the basement.
These pumps run constantly allowing the water in the well area of the pump from the rising water table to be pumped out of the home. In many instances, this constant attention to the water table is the only thing that will prevent standing water during heavy periods of rain.
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Addressing moisture in a basement requires multiple solutions mentioned in this article to ensure that you will not have standing water in your basement or crawl space or cracking masonry.
Before attempting to make any major renovations in an unfinished basement, clear up any water issues and water damage. Once you are certain that you no longer have any issues after heavy rains, proceed with finishing out your basement with the understanding that issues may arise in the future.