Fixing Wet Basements
It seems that everyone wants a finished basement these days and it’s pretty obvious why. Basements offer valuable square footage to a homes living space if it’s dry and inhabitable. However, many basements are prone to poor ventilation and drainage and even standing water during wet weather.
Fixing wet basements can be an expensive and extensive process. Fixes can be as simple as correcting exterior drainage (proper rain gutters, positive grade pitch away from the building, sufficient foundation drains, etc.) More complicated repairs can include cutting up the basement slab and installing interior foundation drains and a sump pump system. (Check out Homeowner’s Blog for: How To Water Proof A Basement, for an example.)
It has been my experience that standing water like the picture above is a sign that the water table is probably close enough to the basement level that seasonal changes create a flooding problem. While slightly damp basements are typically the result of poor perimeter drainage. Regardless of how your basement looks when it gets wet the following are areas to evaluate and possible repair.
Methods To Fix Wet Basements
- Proper Rain Gutters – I’m a huge fan of installing rain gutters on homes. Even here in New England where we get plenty of snow I feel that gutters are far too important to go without. Gutters help you control and remove significant amounts of water from the perimeter of your foundation. It’s very important that the gutters be connected to piping to ensure that the water is moved away from the home.
- Proper Grading Around Home – Properly grading the landscape to move water away from the foundation is an essential component to keeping your basement dry. Be sure to check that flower gardens, sidewalks, driveways and other landscaping features are graded to allow water to flow away from the house.
- Proper Exterior Foundation Drains – One of the most effective ways to keep water our of a basement is to have proper exterior footing drains installed in such a way that the water can flow under gravity out and away from the foundation. French drains work best for this connected to a solid foundation pipe day-lighted at a point lower than the foundation drains.
- Sump Pumps – Sump pumps are an excellent way to protect your basement from flooding. Sump pumps get installed in a “sump” or shallow well and then connected to a drain pipe. The pipe is used to pump water out of the house and far enough away that it does not just run back into the house.
- Water Proofing Membranes – Water proofing is another method used to control water in basements. However, I must caution that water proofing is best used on the OUTSIDE of the foundation. Each year people spend far too much money on water proofing the inside of foundation walls. While this might be effective in keeping out “moisture” it’s not an effective way of keeping out large quantities of water. The water pressures created on foundation walls are too great to be stopped by membranes that are adhered to the inside of the wall.
I hope this article gives some insight and ideas on how to fix wet basements. Just remember that you should use a top down approach. Start at the top, i.e. the roof, and work your way down to the basement. If you can control all the possible sources of the water you should be able to create a dry basement.