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Is Your Basement Waterproofed? The 7 Features to Look For (Homeowner's Guide)

January 14, 2021

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Are you a homeowner asking, is my basement waterproofed? This is vital to consider especially if you’re thinking of finishing that space, as wet basements wreak havoc on drywall, ceiling tiles, and flooring. Damp basements also risk damage to household appliances and stored items. Even if you aren’t considering finishing the basement and don’t tend to store items in your home’s basement, waterproofing reduces the risk of mold growth, wood rot, and other costly fixes.

basement system work

If your home’s basement is waterproofed already, you might not need to invest in added protection. While a basement waterproofing contractor can check your home’s basement for waterproofing installations, check out 7 features that indicate your basement space is already waterproofed. It’s also helpful to consider a few additional questions about basement waterproofing including how long certain methods last and if a damp basement is a problem!

7 Features That Indicate Your Basement Has Waterproofing:

  1. Interior coatings
  2. Exterior coatings
  3. Basement drains
  4. Sump pump
  5. French drains
  6. Vapor barriers
  7. Sealants and epoxy injections

How Do I Know If My Basement Is Waterproofed?

The best way to know if a basement is waterproofed is to check if any waterproofing options are installed in the basement or on your property already. Even if you do find any of these solutions in or around your home, you might still have a waterproofing contractor note their overall condition and if they need updating or replacing.

1. Interior Coatings

basement waterproofing interior coating

Note if your home’s basement walls are painted or otherwise coated, and if the coating seems dry. If so, this is probably a waterproof coating or paint, meant to fill in small openings in concrete and provide a watertight finish. These coatings can be tinted virtually any shade, so don’t assume that red or white walls mean that the space is just painted and not waterproofed!

2. Exterior coatings

exterior coating for a basement

As with interior coatings, a home’s outside foundation walls might be covered with waterproof paint or a rubber membrane. Check if your home’s exposed foundation concrete looks bare or if it’s been coated with any type of finished materials.

3. Drains

drain installation

Basement drains are typically installed at the floor’s lowest point, so that water clinging to the walls and floors runs toward this drain rather than pooling and forming puddles. Drains don’t always trap moisture coming in through basement walls before that water evaporates but they do help keep basements dry even in cases of floods and plumbing disasters.

4. Sump pumps

sump pump install

Sump pumps are similar to drains but far more powerful and complicated! Sump pumps use a pit, installed at the lowest point of the basement floor or outside the home, typically near its foundation. This pit collects water so that a pump can then direct it out of the basement and away from the home.

Sump pumps are often hidden or concealed somehow, so a homeowner might not realize one is installed especially if there is a sump pump outside the home. Inside the home, the sump pump might be in a basement corner or installed near the water heater, for maximum protection in case that appliance should break and flood the basement!

5. French drains

french drain installation system in Rhode Island

A French drain is installed outside the home; this drain consists of a basin meant to catch pooling water, and then pipes that direct the water away from the home. Those pipes might drain the water to a nearby gutter or direct it to areas of the property that need added irrigation, such as a garden or landscaping features.

To find out if you have a French drain on your property, look for a type of grate that might sit near the foundation and back part of your home. This grate helps catch water in the drain basin, before it’s directed away from the home.

6. Vapor barriers

vapor barrier installation ri

Vapor barriers typically consist of insulation and plastic sheeting hung over the walls and then sealed with tape and other connectors. These barriers block water vapor so it can evaporate before causing water damage. In basements, vapor barriers are often behind finished building materials such as drywall, although they are also added to unfinished basements and simply left exposed.

7. Sealants and epoxy injections

foundation crack repair in Rhode Island after

Injections along concrete walls help seal all those pits and pores that form in concrete over the years. This sealant keeps out water and moisture while also protecting concrete from damage. If your home has had epoxy injections, you might notice what looks like caulk along basement walls.

How Long Does Waterproofing a Basement Last?

How long each basement waterproofing method lasts depends on the quality of materials used and its installation, and moisture levels on your property. Most sump pumps last 7 to 10 years before they need repair or replacing, while some high-quality models might last for up to 30 years!

Waterproofing coatings, vapor barriers, and epoxy injections should be inspected annually for damage and excessive wear and tear. Interior drains and French drains might never need replacing but they should be inspected annually for cracks, clogs, and other needed repairs.

Is a Wet Basement a Problem?

Homeowners should never overlook wet basements, even if you’re not thinking of finishing the space. Consider some reasons why basement waterproofing is an important investment for any home!

preparing for waterproofing basement walls in RI

  • Wood framing absorbs moisture trapped inside the home, leading to wood rot and other costly damage. Rotted, weak wood cannot hold up a home’s structure as it should, so you house might then shift and settle, leading to interior wall and ceiling cracks, buckled floors, and other costly fixes. Excess moisture increases the risk of mold growth, which is unhealthy and also costly to clean and remove.
  • Damp basements attract insects and rodents as these pests need water sources as well as a food source! Even if you keep your home scrupulously clean, a wet basement might soon mean an infestation of termites, ants, roaches, mosquitoes, mice, and rats.
  • Damp basements often produce unpleasant, musty odors that can travel and get absorbed by furniture and carpeting. These smells are especially bothersome to those with sensitivities to odors, such as migraine sufferers.
  • If you’re considering storing items in the basement, it’s vital that you consider waterproofing. Even if you invest in rubber or plastic totes and tubs, your clothes, books, toys, sporting goods, and other items might suffer costly damage when stored in a damp basement.
  • Wet basements can also mean rusted household appliances! Many homes have a washing machine, dryer, furnace, and water heater in the basement; waterproofing the space can mean less risk of rust and other expensive damage.

Where is Moisture Coming From?

A homeowner would also do well to consider that moisture seeps into a basement from the outside, and that a basement is part of the home’s overall foundation. A damp basement can then indicate foundation damage. If left unchecked, this damage can make your home structurally unstable.

It’s also good to remember that damage caused by a wet or leaking basement just gets more extensive and costlier over time! The longer you ignore a damp basement, the more likely it is that mold will develop, which can then spread quickly, and that cracks and leaks will also get larger. To avoid otherwise unnecessary costs, it’s recommended that you waterproof your basement as soon as you notice excess humidity in the space.

RI basement with water damage to basement

How Do You Waterproof the Inside of a Basement?

Basement waterproofing is always best left to the pros, so you know the job will get done right and last for years! However, if you want to add some waterproofing to a home’s basement, invest in a sealant or coating meant for DIY projects. These coatings usually apply just like paint.

To ensure a proper coating and as much waterproofing as possible, make sure the basement is clean and dry before beginning. Large holes should be filled with epoxy or another sealant. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for drying time before putting stored items back into the basement.

As with all paints and coatings, you might check the condition of your DIY waterproof coatings every year, for worn areas or damage. Many such coatings need reapplication every year or so, to ensure they stay thick and durable and continue to repel water.

Adding a high-quality dehumidifier to your basement is also recommended, especially in areas where you’re storing personal items. Be sure you empty the dehumidifier as often as needed, to keep it functioning optimally.

Is Basement Waterproofing Expensive?

Your basement waterproofing costs depend on the method chosen! Sump pumps are one of the most expensive basement waterproofing option, as they require a freshly dug pit and access to the home’s exterior. Most sump pumps run about $1000 to $1500 on average, including installation.

completed basement waterproofing

Cost of Exterior Coating

Exterior coatings are also somewhat costly, as a contractor might excavate much of your lawn and landscaping to apply these coatings along the basement’s outside walls. Depending on the quality of coating and extent of excavation, these coatings can run $2000 or more.

Cost of French Drains

French drains often cost about $20 to $30 per linear foot, and might cost close to $1000, depending on your property’s overall size and if you want to drain to direct trapped water to a specific spot in your yard. Vapor barriers also tend to cost just under $1000 per average residential basement.

Cost of Epoxy Injections

Epoxy injections covering a few minor leaks might cost just a few hundred dollars, while large-scale epoxy coatings can run close to $1000 for the average residential basement or even more for oversized cracks. DIY coatings are often the most affordable basement waterproofing option, and might cost homeowners just a few hundred dollars for the entire basement space.

Basement Waterproofing of Rhode Island is proud to present this information to our readers and we hope that it helps answer the question, is my basement waterproofed? If you still need more information about your waterproofed basement or want to add this vital protection to your home’s space, give us a call! We offer a wide variety of basement waterproofing options, sure to fit your needs and budget, and provide a full customer satisfaction guarantee as well.

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