What are the causes of Wetness, Dampness or Flooding in Basements?

Generally, it is a result of a combination of things such as poor or expiring waterproofing, poor grading and poor drainage.

This image shows a downspout dumping near the corner of a basement. Water is coming into the basement on this corner during heavy rains. We piped the water away with PVC drains and improved the grading, Problem sufficiently solved!

Basement Waterproofing is a combination of coatings and/ or other materials designed to keep water  and dampness from coming in through the foundation walls.

Below is an image of a foundation with a tar type of coating. for the foundation drain, they installed a new type of wafer style drain. Builders are installing this on many new homes simply because it’s cheap.  This drain cannot be accessed by a camera or cleaning tools. If it clogs or fails, the wall needs to be dug back out and the drain should be replaced with a proper PVC system.

No second chances in waterproofing! In the photo below, a spray coating has been applied to the walls. If the waterproofing ever fails, the walls may need to be dug out six feet down to the bottom of the footing. This is why it is so important to install a proper waterproofing and foundation drain systems right the first time – when the walls and footings are easy to access. You really only get one chance to install a waterproofing system and Foundation drain properly. The coating on these walls might look good but oftentimes, weather does not cooperate so walls end up wet, icy or muddy during the time that the “waterproofing” (now renamed damp proofing in most building code books) is sprayed, pressed (as with peel and stick membranes) or painted on to them.

Basement Waterproofing is dependent on a properly working footer drain. The footer drain system at the base of the wall, or better yet at the base of the footer, to give the water a way out so that it does not build up on the outside of foundation walls. The foundation drain either drains into a sump crock so it can be pumped out [or out to a sewer drain in older homes] or out via gravity to desired location.

How can I keep water out of my basement and crawl space?

The key factors to keeping water out of your basement are Good Drainage and Grading along with a Good Waterproofing System. Ideally, the ground should only have to handle the few inches of rain that falls on it and not all of the added concentrated flow that comes from downspouts/ roof water and other hard surfaces like driveways, patios, etc.

For Existing homes:

The best way to keep water out of a basement or crawl space is to ensure that high volumes of roof water is carried well away from the home to a downhill area where it can safely flow away without undermining trees or other structures. The average downspout discharges roughly 200 gallons of water per inch of rain. Routing downspouts 4 ft away from the home is not sufficient. Moles, voles and other burrowing creatures can create tunnels underground that can direct this water straight back to the foundation walls.  Corrugated pipe is also not sufficient.  it can be easily crushed or pinched closed by root systems. it’s loose leaky fittings, even when taped, allow roots to get in seeking the water that sits in the ridges of the pipe. Corrugated pipe is for above ground temporary use only. High grade PVC should always be used below ground since it will never need replaced if it is properly maintained.

For new homes:

Proper drainage is just as important to the healthy life of the home as a good roof. Installing a PVC drainage system designed to route water far away from the home to a desirable location is one of the best investments a homeowner can make when building a home. Installing premium waterproofing and a proper foundation drain system is also imperative. It can easily cost 10 times as much to try to go back and replace these systems so let’s do it right the first time. A PVC drainage system lasts over 100 years with proper maintenance. it’s one of the few things that does not depreciate over a lifetime.

Drain Designs uses our patented system, the American Drain. There’s nothing else on the market like this. Our system allows us to access and inspect the outside of the basement wall after it is backfilled. American drain panels provide an inch and a half of airspace between the foundation wall and the drainage panels. In other words, wet soil never even touches your basement wall. We can take the cap off and see any portion of the basement wall all the way down to the footer drain pipe. Our footer drain pipes are all PVC and easy to access for cleaning and maintenance. You can learn more at Americandrain.com.

What is the cost to replace or repair my waterproofing?

Sufficiently solving waterproofing problems can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to more than $50,000. For a few hundred dollars, temporary above ground piping can be placed to Route downspouts away from a foundation which can sufficiently solve many basement water intrusion problems. In homes with finished basements, there are cases when walls need to be completely excavated down to the Footers and waterproofing and Foundation drains need to be completely replaced and reworked. this can easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars. The good news is, a drainage specialist can often fix basement and crawl space water problems sufficiently without digging out the foundation and replacing the waterproofing. Waterproofing is simply cost prohibitive around some areas of the home. For example, to waterproof under a porch, the porch may need to be removed. The best way to deal with waterproofing problems is to focus on getting as much water away from the foundation as possible with grading and drainage improvements thereby minimizing the burden on the foundation drain and the waterproofing systems.