The Common Problem
So you have damp patches in the walls of your basement? There may even be water seeping up through the floor itself. You’ve been outside and carefully examined the house above ground level, but basically everything seems to be sound, and you haven’t found a likely source for the leaks. Where do you go from here?
Two courses of action
The two different approaches that present themselves are:
– sealing from the interior of the basement by applying damp proofing compounds to the interior surfaces of the walls and floor, or
– excavating the soil around the house down to below foundation level, inspecting and properly sealing the exterior surfaces.
So Why Not Just Seal The Inside of the Walls and Floor?
We’d all love to take the former course, as it would obviously be cheaper, quicker and relatively hassle free. Why can’t I simply get into my car and drive around to the nearest Home Depot or Lowes, and find something that I can paint on myself? Won’t that work?
So let’s look at the advantages and disadvantage inherent in the two approaches that can be taken to solving the damp basement problem.
Understanding What ‘Negative’ Water Pressure Means
Unless you have an internal leak from a broken pipe or some other source, a wet basement means that water is finding its way in from the outside of the house.
How does it manage to work its way right through the solid structure of the building? We have to understand that water pressure works from the outside in. In other words, any sub-soil ground water around your home, from heavy rains or rising ground water, will be pushing against the outside structure of the building. Whether it be via the foundation or up through the floor, this water will sooner or later find any tiny cracks or weaknesses, and exploit them, creeping inwards and eventually landing up in the basement area itself. It’s amazing how water can travel, often ending up far away from the point where it first entered the house!
Applying Damp Proofing to the Interior
The application of an adequate damp proofing compound that will seal the inside walls and floor seems like a great remedy, but it has an inherent weakness.
Look at it this way: if the bond between the waterproofing seal you have applied and the wall surface is not strong enough, the seal will eventually give way and de-laminate from the wall, allowing the damp back in. So its effectiveness depends on whether the bond is strong enough to hold up against the negative pressure it is constantly under from the outside water trying to get through.
The issue at root is that the substance you apply to the walls is in reality an extra skin, not part of the wall itself. If the skin remains water-tight it could be the answer to your problem, but it would need to be regularly serviced to maintain a permanently strong bond with the wall,.
The Other Alternative
While the exterior solution is always going to involve more work and expense, it may in the long run prove to be the more economical route to go, for two reasons:
– unlike the interior approach, it it is a permanent, long-term solution, and won’t require regular maintenance and re-application
– once it’s done you can relax in the knowledge that your basement interior will be damp free and secure, whereas with the interior solution, neglecting to maintain it could let the water back in.
Other Solutions to Keep In Mind
If the problem is from water rising up directly through your floor area, there is another less complicated, and highly effective solution to keep your basement dry and flood free. The answer here would be to install a sump pump, which is situated in an interior pit sunk into the basement floor. This system automatically pumps out any water that has entered the basement floor area and discharges it safely, far from the exterior of the house.
The best solution is to call in an experienced, qualified expert to have a look around and give you the advice you need. The experts at Anchor Waterproofing will check and then re-check your property, offering you the best solutions available, allowing you to rest assured in the knowledge that your problem is in the hands of highly trained, honest professionals.