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The 3 Major Approaches to Basement Waterproofing

Researching basement waterproofing can be an overwhelming process. If you're dealing with leaky basement walls or water coming up through the floor, finding an effective solution can save you time and money in the long run. Here's a quick explanation of your options for keeping your basement dry.

A sump pump and hidden drainage system inside a basement

Adding a sump pump and drainage channel inside the basement effectively prevents a flooded basement and keeps the basement dry.

A damp basement smells bad, is prone to mold problems, and shouldn’t be used as storage or living space. There are various reasons for basement water seepage, leaks, flooding, and moisture - some are easy to fix, and others require help from a professional specializing in waterproofing basements. An effective basement waterproofing solution can prevent mold, structural, and indoor air quality problems associated with water in the basement.

When waterproofing a basement, there's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach. The right solution for your home will depend on the source of the problem, where your home is located, and the type of foundation you have.

Here are the most common interior and exterior basement waterproofing methods and information about each to help you decide on the best option for your home.

  1. Sealants & Epoxy Injections

    Sealants and epoxy injections are widely considered band-aid fixes, but some homeowners opt for these methods when a drainage system isn't in their budget. These masonry waterproofing products are applied to basement walls to prevent moisture from seeping. Sealants should not be applied over painted walls or efflorescence (white mineral deposits that form on the surface of concrete walls). A common problem with many epoxy injections is that the material can crack when the foundation walls expand and contract. However, the FlexiSpan Wall Crack Repair System from Basement Systems involves a combination of flexible sealant, porous foam, and an impermeable membrane to prevent leaks without cracking like mortar-based options. In addition to repairing leaky wall cracks, installing a drainage system is important to protect against flooding.

  2. Interior Drainage

    Waterproofing a basement from the inside is typically the best option for most homes because it's more cost-effective and less disruptive than exterior excavation. An interior drainage system, often referred to as a French drain, involves digging a trench along the interior perimeter of the basement floor and installing a drain and sump pump to move water out. Our WaterGuard Basement Waterproofing System uses a hidden drainage channel to capture water from leaks in the walls and where the walls and floor meet; it diverts the water to a sump pump that pumps the water out of the basement.

  3. Exterior Waterproofing

    Waterproofing a foundation from the outside typically involves using polymers and membranes to coat the exterior of the walls, installing a trench drain underground, or combining both methods. When done properly, exterior drainage can effectively waterproof a basement, but there are trade-offs. The two primary disadvantages are cost and the likelihood of clogging. First, excavation is expensive and extremely disruptive. Another disadvantage of exterior drains is they are prone to clogging, which can result in a flooded basement.

If your home shows signs that the basement needs waterproofing, choosing the basement waterproofing solution that works best for you ultimately comes down to two things: the source of the problem and your budget.

Choosing the best waterproofing system for your basement

Depending on the severity of the problem, some homeowners opt for a temporary fix, but often end up having to install a drainage system to effectively fix their basement water problem. An exterior waterproofing job typically costs much more than interior waterproofing because the job requires heavy equipment, more labor, and takes longer to complete.

If flooding is a concern where you live or you have a consistently wet basement, review our quick guide on 5 Elements of an Effective Basement Waterproofing System or get a free evaluation and estimate from a professional who specializes in waterproofing basements. The waterproofing contractors in the Basement Systems network are trained and experienced in finding the source of a basement water problem and designing a long-term waterproofing solution.

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