Basement Leaks Have Several Causes and Can Be Solved in a Number of Ways
There are few situations more frustrating to homeowners than a steady flow of water into the basement. Leaks can create a damp and smelly environment that is hazardous to a home's foundation, stored valuables, and occupants. To avoid basement water problems, as well as the headaches and hefty bills that accompany them, there are a number of measures that can be taken. Home Improvement Educator explains what they are and how much they cost in this basement waterproofing guide.
Finding the Source
If there is a way for water to get into your basement, it will, and sooner or later you'll have a moisture problem on your hands. Some of the most common means by which water penetrates basements include the following:
- Missing, Faulty, or Improperly Installed Gutters: Your home's gutter system plays an important role in shedding water away from the foundation. It is imperative to make sure that the system is draining water properly and far enough away from your house that it cannot backflow into the basement. Also keep an eye out for gutter clogs, which effectively negate the function of gutters.
- Poor Drainage and Backfilling: During the construction of your home, the general contractor should have installed waterproof membrane surrounded by crushed stone along the foundation. The backfill must be of a proper grade of soil and should also be installed in such a way that encourages water flow away from the house.
- Faulty Concrete Installation and/or Curing: There is a specific set of rules that must be followed during the concrete pouring and curing process. If these rules are not followed precisely, a foundation can weaken over time and develop leaks.
There are various solutions for repairing a leaky basement, ranging from quick and simple fixes to full-fledged gut and repair jobs.
Waterproofing Paints and Primers: These products are excellent at repairing minor leaks and moisture problems (sweaty walls). They are neither a permanent fix nor appropriate for extensive repairs, however.
Crack Injections/Masonry Caulking: If there are visible cracks in your basement walls and you're certain that water is seeping in from them, these products can help. They are typically used in tandem with a layer of concrete or hydraulic cement and a waterproofing paint applied at the end of the repair.
Exterior Solutions: Often times, the above solutions only work temporarily; they must be applied every few months, especially in the case of a steady leak. The only solution guaranteed to work for the lifetime of the house involves tackling the problem from the outside in. More specifically, the foundation must be excavated down to the footings, followed by the installation of French drains (or another drainage system) along with the proper aggregate, soil, and slope.
Basement Waterproofing Costs
The following costs are based on national averages; actual costs can vary from state to state. These figures should be used as a rough guide only.
- Using waterproofing paints and primers is the cheapest option. It can often be done as a DIY job. Materials can be found at a local hardware store, typically at a cost of $30-$40 per gallon (one gallon covers approximately 75 square feet). If you choose to hire a professional, an average-sized basement shouldn't incur more than $500 in labor charges.
- Hiring a company to fix cracks with injections or caulking can cost as little as $50 for a small crack. Using this method to fix cracks throughout the basement could cost up to $1,000.
- Excavating the foundation and installing a drainage system might cost $10,000 to $30,000 depending on the size of your home.