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Category:  Home Improvement

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Waterproofing your Basement

By Steven Stone

Finding standing water in your basement can be devastating. It can ruin valued possessions, cause fungus and mildew, allow termites and rodents into your home through foundation cracks, and cause electrical problems. If not corrected, mold, mildew and bacteria can pose serious health problems for your family, and your property value could deteriorate. Further damage can be caused to paint, wall coverings, flooring materials and more.

The source of the water is important to determine. If serious structural damage has occurred from collapsed walls, support failure, or serious structural cracks, it is definitely time to call in the experts. If you only have a small amount of moisture, make sure the real problem isn't condensation. Leave a piece of aluminum foil on the wall for one week, then see which side is wet to determine if the problem is condensation or seepage. If the problem is condensation, a dehumidifier should help. A relatively small seepage problem, such as a hole in the wall, may be fairly easy to fix yourself using mortar. Once the problem is resolved, you will want to waterproof your basement to keep water out in the future. 

There are many companies which specialize in basement waterproofing, such as those to the right, and you may decide to simply hire one in your area. If you plan to do the waterproofing yourself, start by making sure the walls are prepared. Brush away loose mortar or broken block or rock. Remove all surface contaminants, including grease, dirt, and dust. Use a wire brush or sandblast any old paint. Next, use quick dry cement to fill any holes or cracks.

Purchase a quality water-proofing coating, and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Pay attention to the spread-rate specified by the manufacturer. Moisture seepage will continue if the coating is applied too thin. If you have an excessive amount of water coming into your basement, you may want to apply a second coat. Work the coating into the masonry pores as you go.

Try to purchase a product that uses the word "waterproof coating", rather than "water repellent". Waterproof coating products are better at preventing water seepage under hydrostatic pressure, and are usually formulated for above and/or below grade, and for interior and/or exterior applications. Hydrostatic pressure can be caused by faulty gutter systems, rain runoff, a high water table, and wind-driven rain.

Spending the time or money it takes for waterproofing your basement can greatly help in preventing agonizing problems later from loss of property and potential health hazards. 

Steven Stone is a writer for . Read more articles on home and garden topics in the Home Style News email newsletter. Subscribe free at  


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