There are several ways to seal your basement against water damage. Since there might be several factors influencing recurrent flooding, it is best to take a multi-faceted approach to ensure that you protect your home's foundation against further damage. Following these procedures will keep your basement dry and your floor water-free. |
Seepage is a problem for many older homes, and can happen through both the floor and walls. Doing the job right and being thorough will guarantee that you don't have to go back again. There are many factors that can cause seepage: it could be that the house has settled, putting stress on the foundation, or that water pressure outside is building up and forcing water through the walls. Whatever the reasons, these leaks can easily be fixed.
First check for holes or cracks in the floor and walls. If there are none, you can go ahead and directly apply the waterproofing compound (steps below). Usually, however, you will find holes; if this is the case, you must first clean and patch these areas before applying the compound. Purchase or mix up a mortar made from epoxy or latex cement. The best ratio is one part cement, two parts fine sand, and just enough water for a stiff mortar you can apply directly. If you are dealing with simple seepage through any existing cracks, you can force the mortar into the wall using your trowel or putty knife and let dry. However, if you suspect outside water pressure is causing seepage, you must chip out a dovetail groove surrounding the entire length of the crack before mending. The correct way to do this is to make a hole around the crack that is larger inside than the mouth. Do not make a triangle-shaped incision; this will only be forced out in a matter of time. Making the dovetail groove correctly will save you more time in the long run. Once you have chipped out the faulty area you can then fill the dovetail hole with the same mortar mix. Make sure to press it into all parts of the hole to ensure no air bubbles and then smooth out with your trowel.
Sealing Cracks and Holes
Sometimes you need to give the water outside the walls a way to release pressure without damaging your basement. In cases like this, a weep pipe can help. Either temporarily or permanently installed, this device allows the water to drain into a sewer, sometimes facilitated with a sump pump. Start by inserting the weep pipe at the pressure point where the wall and floor meet. Patch the crack using your mortar, starting at the top and working down. Once this is dry, watch the water. If the draining slows, you can probably remove the pipe and patch the hole. If it doesn't, it's better to leave the pipe in for a little while longer, letting it drain into the sewer using a hose. Once the water pressure issue has resolved, it's time to plug the hole. To do this, you must create a tamp out of cement: roll the mixture into a cone shape using your hands. It must be a tad larger than the hole itself. Then use a mallet to tamp it into position. Keep your hands over it for three to five minutes while it sets to ensure an adequate seal against the water.
Waterproofing Your Repairs
Once you've gone over your basement to patch and repair existing holes and cracks, it's time for the final waterproof layer. Moisten the walls with your hose so that they are damp but not dripping. Keep in mind before waterproofing that most mixtures won't adhere to painted surfaces; if your basement is finished in this way, you first need to sand all existing paint off. You can use a pre-made mix for waterproofing or make your own from plain cement and water, mixing it to the consistency of cream. Using a stiff brush and circular movements, take care to fill every pore in the wall thoroughly. Start at the bottom where pressure is greatest and slowly work your way up and around. You only want to apply the mix where there are problem areas, and gradually thin mix out at the edge. Once this is done and the coating dry, soak it using a hose, and leave it to dry for at least 12 hours. After this, wet again and re-apply another coat of the mixture while walls are still damp; two coats is the recommended amount to help stop any future leaks from happening.
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