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Basement Waterterproofing Learning Center
Basement Waterterproofing Learning Center

Basement Wall and Basement Floor

To evaluate basement waterproofing options, it helps to have a basic understanding of how different foundations can leak

Not all basements are created equal. This is mainly due to the different materials used to construct the foundation walls that define the basement. Each of the four foundation types described below has unique characteristics that should be considered when designing a basement waterproofing system. The one universal factor in any basement waterproofing plan is the poor performance of exterior drainage systems. Even though many houses have footing drains as shown in the drawings, these drains don’t perform well if at all. The drains are easily crushed during the backfilling process. A well-functioning exterior drain will eventually clog with silt and plant roots, rendering it useless.

Poured Walls

POURED CONCRETE WALLS typically leak along the joint between the floor and the wall. High hydrostatic pressure outside the foundation can cause water to seep through solid concrete walls. It will also force water into the basement along the crack between the floor and the walls. Cracks that form in walls also provide pathways for water to enter the basement.

Block Walls

CONCRETE BLOCK WALLS will leak along the floor/wall joint, just like poured concrete walls. But the mortar joints between individual concrete blocks also have the potential to leak. Pressure against a concrete block foundation often weakens mortar joints, causing cracks that allow water to penetrate. The hollow cores in concrete blocks can fill with water, causing the foundation to leak long after the soil outside the house has dried out. Expect the same characteristics of cinder block walls.

Stone Walls

STONE WALLS are found primarily on older houses. Because stone masons may not have had the time, materials or skill to construct long-lasting waterproof walls, ground water can seep or even flow into the basement through gaps or cracks between stones. An interior perimeter drain system is necessary to capture water that leaks though walls as well as water that leaks through the floor/wall joint.

Clay Tile Walls

CLAY TILE WALLS are found on some historic houses. The floor/wall joist is a common leak location. So are the mortar joints between clay tiles. Like concrete blocks, clay tiles have hollow cores that can become filled with water, creating a reservoir of water that can leak into the basement over time. Because clay tile is brittle and more easily damaged than other masonry materials, care must be taken when working on this type of wall.

The bottom line: It’s smart to install an interior French drain system

Because every type of basement foundation can have water leaking through walls as well as along the floor-wall joint, any waterproofing system should aim to capture this leakage before it can get onto the basement floor. The WaterGuard® system from Basement Systems is designed to perform these dual collection tasks flawlessly.

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