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What Are the Best Basement Systems, and Who Needs One In Their Home?

May 8, 2020

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If your home’s basement or crawlspace always seems overly damp and humid, and especially if you’re considering finishing the basement to create a livable space, you might do well to consider a basement system. These products remove moisture and create a interior environment suited for construction and which is more comfortable for its occupants.

A basement system refers to any number of products designed to remove excess humidity and standing water in a basement. These products include drains, pumps, and dehumidifiers. Any home with a damp basement or crawlspace, and especially a finished basement that seems overly humid and uncomfortable, needs a basement system installation.

If your home’s basement always seems damp and uncomfortable and especially if there is consistent standing water, you might note some details about available basement systems. Waterproofing a basement is vital for protecting a home’s foundation from damage and before finishing that space, to protect drywall, wall studs, and other materials, while also ensuring a healthy environment for you and your family.

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It’s also helpful to consider a few simple suggestions for avoiding floods and keeping a finished or unfinished basement dry throughout the year. You might also note why it’s best to call the pros for all the basement waterproofing you need to have done!

What Are the Best Basement Systems?

Consider a few basement systems options for ensuring a dry and comfortable basement in your home. A basement waterproofing company near you might also offer some added suggestions, to suit your house and your budget!

When considering the best basement waterproofing system for your home, remember that the cheapest product or solution isn’t always the best. Investing in a high-quality drainage system and exterior membranes, for instance, often mean enhanced protection and avoiding future cracks and chips along basement walls as well as costly damage to the home’s foundation. The money you invest in a quality basement system is offset by avoiding expensive foundation and basement wall repairs!

  • Basement waterproofing systems include interior and exterior fixes and might also include better grading or sloping of your property as well as exterior trenches or drains, to direct water away from your home.
  • Drainage tiles, crushed gravel, or perforated pipes, called a French drain, are often installed along outside foundation walls, to slow the flow of water toward the home and basement and direct it away from the home as well.
  • Hydraulic cement applied to exterior foundation walls expands as it cures, filling in cracks and covering the basement area with a thick sealant.
  • Elastic, waterproof membranes also provide added coverage for exterior walls, keeping out moisture. Elastic membranes also flex and move with concrete, allowing it to cover any new cracks that form.
  • Interior water drainage systems move water from basement footers to the home’s exterior. Sump pumps are an excellent interior water drainage product, collecting water into a pit and then pumping that water to the home’s exterior.
  • Dehumidifiers also help keep a basement dry and comfortable. Dehumidifiers attract moisture from the surrounding environment and collect that moisture into a tank. A contractor might even recommend you keep a high-quality dehumidifier working in the basement after the space is finished.
  • Specialty paints and roll-on membranes designed for basement walls also keep out moisture, although these over-the-counter products are not typically as effective as full-scale basement waterproofing systems.

Common Causes of a Damp Basement

To ensure you choose the best basement waterproofing system for your home, it’s vital that you determine why the basement is damp or holding water in the first place! Poor ventilation is a common reason for a damp basement; as basements often have small windows typically kept closed, it’s not unusual for the space to capture and trap humidity.

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Foundation damage often leads to interior water leaks and a damp basement. Cracks along a foundation allow water and moisture into the home which then becomes trapped in the basement. Improper grading or sloping as well as clogged or defective gutters and downspouts also allow standing water along a home’s foundation; concrete absorbs this moisture which then makes its way into the home’s basement.

Interior water leaks also tend to create moisture in the basement. Water travels downward, so even a leaking pipe in a second-floor bathroom might mean a damp basement in the home! Old and damaged water heaters, blocked condensation hoses on air conditioners and refrigerators, and other such issues often result in a damp, humid basement.

Why Your Home Needs a Basement System

A damp, humid basement is more than just uncomfortable for occupants. Water buildup leads to an increased risk of mold growth behind walls, on drywall surfaces, along subflooring and around other building materials. Mold holds moisture against these surfaces, making them soft and crumbly.

Mold is also unhealthy for a home’s occupants and expensive to clean and remove! It’s also vital to note that mold grows and spreads quickly, especially in dark and humid areas such as a damp basement or crawlspace.

Moisture buildup inside a home and especially along basement walls also increases the risk of foundation damage. Concrete absorbs that moisture and eventually cracks, chips, or otherwise needs repairs. If left unchecked and if moisture levels are severe, your home might eventually need concrete underpinning or other costly repairs beyond simple patching.

Standing water also attracts insects, rodents, and other such pests. Note that these pesky creatures don’t need much water to thrive, so even a slightly damp basement or trace amounts of moisture might see an increased chance of termites, ants, roaches, mice and rats, and other infestations in your home.

How to Keep a Basement Dry and Comfortable

A full-scale basement waterproofing system is the best choice for keeping a basement dry and comfortable throughout the year. However, you might also consider a high-quality dehumidifier, as said, to wick moisture from the air and ensure excess humidity is not absorb by basement walls, drywall, and other materials.

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For small-scale moisture problems, you might purchase products such as Damp Rid. These products contains salt and other materials that absorb surrounding moisture. This moisture then drips to the bottom of a tub or bag, allowing you to empty it as needed.

Adequate ventilation is also needed in basements; if considering a renovation, ask your contractor about installing ventilation fans such as those found in bathrooms. These fans pull damp air from the space and circulate it to the home’s exterior, keeping basement dry and comfortable.

It’s also vital that a homeowner inspect basement walls for chips and other needed repairs; timely patching along with fresh waterproof paint or other coatings keep moisture out of the space. Ensure your home’s plumbing and appliances are in good repair throughout the year, to avoid water leaks into the basement or crawlspace.

Why Avoid DIY Basement Systems

Purchasing a dehumidifier and coating basement walls with waterproof paint or other membranes is simple enough for any homeowner, but more extensive basement waterproofing system installation is best left to the pros! One reason for this is that application of exterior membranes requires excavation of soil surrounding a home’s foundation. Working in and around excavations is dangerous for amateurs!

It’s also vital to note that improper application of exterior membranes often means an insufficient basement waterproofing system. Hydraulic cement, for example, needs time to cure and set before soil is returned. A basement waterproofing contractor might also note areas across concrete walls needing patching; if this work is not performed before waterproof coatings are applied, that coating might seep into those cracks and then fail to harden and cure as needed.

Note that sump pumps pull water from a drain or pit and pump it to the home’s exterior. Improper sump pump installation can lead to even larger leaks along a basement or crawlspace and resultant water damage! It’s also vital that you choose and install a sump pump large and powerful enough for your needs; an undersized sump pump might get overworked and fail prematurely, while an overly large sump pump is simply a waste of money and electricity.

How Much Does It Cost to Waterproof a Basement?

No two homes are alike which is why it’s best to call a basement waterproofing contractor near you for an exact quote on a water removal system. However, most homeowners might expect to pay between $3 and $9 per square foot for basement waterproofing products and labor; this cost might increase for exterior systems that require large amounts of excavation.

It’s also good to note that added work such as foundation crack repair or removal and replacement of water-damaged drywall inside a basement also increases those costs. Additional drainage issues around your property and the need for retaining walls, grading, and other such work also affect your basement waterproofing systems costs.

If you’re worried about costs to waterproof a basement, remember that it’s more expensive to repair a damaged foundation and replace finished materials inside a basement than it is to invest in basement systems! Foundation underpinning and other such repairs often cost well over $5000 if not up to $10,000 and even more, interior mold removal and cleanup also typically costs well over $1000, and replacing materials in a finished basement as well as water-damaged furniture and appliances might cost as much as finishing your home’s basement in the first place!


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