Basement Waterproofing

More basement waterproofing tips | Wet basement basics | Sump Pump FAQ | More basement waterproofing articles

Whether you choose to waterproof a basement yourself or hire an outside contractor, we've put together a some tips you may find useful.

Before spending any money, do a little research on "Basement Waterproofing" -- use the Internet or look for books on the topic at your local library or book store. Go to Home Depot or Lowe's and talk to someone who is knowledgeable. Often, home improvement stores have free How-To literature -- so grab a copy. Basement Waterproofing can be a costly (but necessary) investment. If you become informed on the topic, you'll know exactly when a contractor or supplier is trying sell you something you don't need.

When waterproofing residential and commercial basements, the following features should be considered essential:

  • an interior pressure-relief system
  • a general drainage system
  • a crawl space drainage system
  • use of a high-quality rigid sealer
  • use of durable, reliable sump pumps and battery back-ups
  • window well drain systems and coverings
  • stairwell drain systems
  • carefully implemented wall and floor crack repair

When planning foundation floor and wall repair, be sure to consider:

  • a complete wall repair strategy (remove and replace block walls)
  • reinforce basement walls (due to buckling)
  • complete wall replacement if necessary
  • concrete floor repair
  • I-Beams

If You Hire an Outside Contractor To Waterproof Your Basement Look for the Following Qualities:

  • Free Inspection and Analysis
  • Free Written Estimates
  • Full “Life of the Structure” (Transferable) Warranty
  • Quality Workmanship
  • Excellent Reputation
  • A Firm Code of Ethics
  • Fully Insured or bonded

Some people may ask: "I hardly go into my basement. Why should I put forth the money and effort to waterproof it? Why is a dry basement important?"

Here are some important reasons why you should have a dry basement:

  • Basement waterproofing can substantially improve the value of your home or building. You may not find your basement particularly useful. However, if you should ever decide to sell your home, a potential buyer may see it a workshop, potential family or recreation room or wine cellar.
  • Increase Useable Square Footage: You can’t remodel a wet basement. You can’t work in it. You can’t store anything in it. And you certainly can’t let your children or pets play in it. Drying up your wet basement will immediately increase your home’s useable square footage. Once you or your contractor have permanently stopped all ways water can enter your basement, you’ll be able to turn that damp basement area into useable space.

Tips for Basement Waterproofing

(1) Plumbing that leaks or other sources of dampness, such as clothes hung to dry on a basement line, will cause higher humidity in the area, leading to condensation.

Fix leaky plumbing as soon as possible. Open windows or dry clothes either outside or in a clothes dryer that vents to the outside. If the problem remains, try using a high-capacity dehumidifier to reduce or eliminate the problem. A ventilation fan, installed on a timer, may also help eliminate your humidity problem.

(2) Moisture (humidity) in the air causes condensation on cool surfaces in the basement, especially walls, floors and cold water pipes.

Insulate pipes. Be certain there is enough ventilation. Open curtains and windows: sunlight and air movement can rapidly dry a basement. Ventilation needs to be regulated based on weather conditions. During hot, humid weather, or long rainy spells, keep the basement windows closed. The air outside will contain more moisture than air inside the basement. Also, during warmer weather, use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to cool and dehumidify the air. Sometimes, simply installing a ventilation fan on a timer may be all that's necessary to minimize humidity problems.

(3) Unprotected basement window wells act as cisterns during heavy rains, and let water come in around the window frame and below windows.

Windows, or parts of windows below grade, need to be protected by metal or masonry window wells. Place gravel in the bottom of the wells to allow for good drainage. Clear plastic bubbles are also available. These are used to cover the entire window like and awning.

(4) Defective or clogged gutters and downspouts -- or not using them to begin with -- lets roof water form puddles or wet soil near or against the basement walls, and enter through cracks or openings in the masonry.

Clean and inspect gutters regularly -- at least once a year. Install new gutters and downspouts as necessary. Keep them free of debris. Where leaves and twigs may collect in a gutter, install a basket-shaped wire strainer over the downspout outlet or place screening across the length of the gutter. Repair gutters and downspouts as soon as you notice the problem.

(5) A simple test to to find the source of water:

To determine whether the water is coming through the wall from the outside or if it's inside condensation, tape a twelve inch square of aluminum foil to the wall that’s prone to dampness. Seal all four sides as airtight as possible. In about two days, check the foil. If the side facing the wall is wet, the problem is water seepage. If the outside of the foil (facing the basement) is wet, it’s condensation.

Below you will find books for learning the fundamental "how to's" of Basement Waterproofing. You will also find our top picks for sump pumps and dehumidifiers.

The Original Basement Waterproofing Handbook by Jack MastersThe Original Basement Waterproofing Handbook
by Jack Masters

THIS OLD HOUSE magazine August, 1996
" Jack Masters helps America dry out by explaining everything you need to know about what caused the mess in your basement and what to do about it".

Book Description:
The above title is a" working book".It is designed to be taken into the basement and around the foundation while home owners learn about repair options .Options which will , when implemented,provide permanent solutions to water leakage and structural damage problems which are damaging their homes.

Properly used even a novice in home repair/improvement should benefit. After reading the book, home owners will have an idea of what their choices are,how they should be implemented, and get a good idea of approximate job cost.

The handbook is unique in many ways. It is the only consumer oriented book to be written about this important subject. Since fully half of the homes in America ,with basements, leak water, it's indeed an important subject.The book is written in straight forward non-technical language. This, plus the fact that it's fully illustrated, make understanding easy-even for novice home owners.Of course pricing is included,as a protection against paying too much for a given service. The book is updated annually,to include new technology ,new pricing and new ideas.The list goes on,but perhaps most important of all,free consulting services are made available to every reader.For the first time,experts,myself included,are standing by on a daily basis to answer any lingering questions.The stakes can be very high when a home is being assaulted by ground water. Consulting Services will allow us to provide a level of reader satisfaction which this type of problem demands.

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Construction Waterproofing Handbook by Michael T. KubalConstruction Waterproofing Handbook
by Michael T. Kubal
Book Info
Provides those in design, construction, and related consulting industries a complete waterproofing package. DLC: Buildings--Protection.

Book Description:
Select and install the right waterproofing system...the right way...every time.

Michael T. Kubal's Construction Waterproofing Handbook is an all-inclusive, project-simplifying guide for waterproofing and construction professionals. This comprehensive answer-packed resource is loaded with the up-to-date, clearly-defined information you need on every project, including work on the building envelope, below-grade, above-grade, and remedial waterproofing. You get information on materials, including:

Quality, maintenance and warranties
Admixtures and expansion joints
Testing, leak investigation and detection
Safety issues
And more

You'll find:
*Well-illustrated installation procedures
*Detail plans and specifications
*Inspection techniques and checklist
*and much, much more


This book could make a waterproofing expert out of anyone! It offers complete and detailed information on every imaginable topic about waterproofing, restoration and even testing for leaks. The best part about the book's structure is that it provides answers and information for the simplest to the most difficult of waterproofing situations. The author has made great use of details from manufacturer's detail drawings and job site photographs to explain how to properly install and inspect waterproofing systems. I got to this page through his web site that even lets you ask questions if the book hasn't answered them - what a GREAT IDEA!

While too many other books present only a portion of information on the topic, in this guide it's obvious that the author has extensive experience in the field and leaves no topic regarding waterproofing untouched. What makes this guide a great resource is ability of the author to associate the text with sufficient detail drawings or photographs for each of the waterproofing areas presented. Waterproofing is not a topic that can be described in words only and this guide is the only one that makes sure a reader at any level of knowledge in the waterproofing field can understand the necessary concepts involved. This book has been a great resource for the maintenance work of building management whenever we have a waterproofing related issue arise. I imagine that if architects or engineers would make better use of such a book in the design phases of a project, building owners wouldn't have so many related problems while operating the facility. The sections on leak repair have saved us many headaches and dollars!

Fantastic Resource
This is the first book that offers a complete guide to any waterproofing related subject. Even better it offers a great section on finding and resolving leaks when they occur. THIS section IS WORTH THE PRICE OF THE BOOK ITSELF! Anybody in the design, engineering or construction fields needs this guide on their bookshelf. Finally somebody has got this subject right!

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simer thermoplastic submersible sump pump — 1/4 hp, model# 2925 Simer Thermoplastic Submersible Sump Pump — 1/4 HP, Model# 2925

Features automatic float switch with piggy-back plug. Side and bottom intake provides clog-resistant suction. Lifts water vertically 20 feet. Low-amp draw allows for cooler operation. Comes with 8-ft. waterproof power cord. UL listed. 1 year warranty. Thermally protected motor pumps up to 1200 GPH 1 1/4in. male iron pipe discharge thread and 1 1/4in. female iron pipe adapter (included)

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Flotec Floodmaster Submersible Sump Pump - 3/4 HP, Model# FPS6000A01 Flotec Floodmaster Submersible Sump Pump — 3/4 HP, Model# FPS6000A01

Features rust-resistant thermoplastic volute and housing, tough polycarbonate impeller and thermally protected, oil-filled motor. Vertical float switch provides reliable operation and allows installation in 13in. basins. High-capacity 1 1/2in. NPT discharge. Will replace most pedestal pumps with no plumbing changes. 14in. H x 7in. W x 9.5in. L. UL listed. Limited lifetime warranty. U.S.A. Moves 6000 GPH@ 5-ft. head; 3800 GPH @ 15-ft. head The ultimate in corrosion resistance!

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Thermoplastic Sump Pump — 1/4 HP Thermoplastic Sump Pump — 1/4 HP

Split–capacitor motor allows low amp draw and cooler operation; side and bottom intake provides clog–resistant suction. Lifts water vertically over 25 feet. Mechanical float switch with piggy–back plug. Replaceable 8 ft. waterproof power cord. 1 1/4 in. female iron pipe adapter included. Pumps 1500 GPH1 1/4 in. male iron pipe discharge thread.

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MaytagŪ 65 Pt. Cameo White Portable Electronic Dehumidifier MaytagŪ 65 Pt. Cameo White Portable Electronic Dehumidifier

A great way to reduce dampness in your basement. This dehumidifier removes a whopping 65 pt. per day. Make your basement more comfortable by removing humidity from the air. Helps to reduce the presence of both mold and mildew. Controlling the environment with a dehumidifier can help prevent damage to wood, fabrics and carpeting caused by water and mildew. Recommended for all wet conditions. Electronic humidistat with adjustable humidity control. Energy Star qualified. Low temperature operation down to 42 deg. F. Automatic shut-off with "Full Bucket" indicator. Front-access water bucket with built-in handle. Slide-out washable filter for easy cleaning. Optional drain hose connection. 5-year parts and labor warranty.

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