Since basements are built below the ground they tend to take in water. You may notice moist basement walls occasionally, water puddles from time to time, or in the worst-case scenario- a flooded basement. No homeowner wants a leaky and wet basement. Once the water has entered your home it can be extremely difficult to get it outside where it belongs. Here are some easy home waterproofing dos and don’ts to follow in order to avoid the problematic damp basement. It is important to know the various basement waterproofing options so that you are better equipped to handle small or large issues.

The Dos and Don'ts of Waterproofing Basement Walls

DO check frequently for cracks

Cracks in your basement’s foundation are a major issue when it comes to waterproofing your property. If you find water in your basement, make sure to properly inspect the area for any wall damage. Water may readily seep through these fractures in the ground and into your home. If you see a crack, make sure to seal it immediately. Otherwise, that small crack can quickly spread and worsen.

DON’T ignore leaks

Leaks can be inconvenient, and you may believe that a small leak or crack in the foundation of your basement can wait. However, if they are left unchecked a minor leak could potentially lead to serious damage. Leaving a leak alone can cause damage to the basement walls, allowing additional water in. You might be left with major water damage in your basement before you have time to act. It is vital to pay close attention to any leaks in your basement no matter how small they appear.

DO determine the source of the water

The concrete foundation of a basement is porous and you can easily notice wet streaks that indicate where the water is entering. Look for streaks along cracks, around window corners, between mortar joints for cement block walls, and around pipes where they enter and exit.

If entire wall surfaces are moist, you would need to do a closer inspection. To do so you need to do a basic condensation test, dry a section of the wall with a rag, and then duct tape a large square piece of aluminum foil to the wall. After 24 hours, peel off the foil and feel the underside of the foil. If it is wet, that is an indication that water is seeping through the wall from the outside. However, if the aluminum foil is dry, the moisture is coming from another source in the basement like a basement shower. If you are having difficulties finding the source of water coming into your basement speak to a basement waterproofing professional.

DON’T use DIY sealants

DIY sealants are getting increasingly popular. They tend to be a low-cost method of repairing tiny leaks in basements and preventing floods. However, these do-it-yourself sealants are only a temporary fix. Do not rely on store-bought DIY sealants even though they may temporarily solve the problem, they will eventually wear away. It is better to contact a professional for help with waterproofing solutions that can be more permanent and longer-lasting.

DO regularly clean gutters

Clogged gutters may make a mess of your home when you do not regularly clear them out. They can get blocked and unable to allow flowing water and debris through. When gutters become clogged their overflowing water flows straight to the basement rather than spilling out onto your grass. This can result in extensive flooding and water damage. To avoid dealing with a flooded basement it is important to make gutter cleaning part of your exterior home chore list.

DON’T apply a sealer over painted walls

If the basement walls are painted over you would first need to remove the paint before applying any sealer. This is because sealer adheres well only to bare brickwork. Several coatings of paint are prevalent in older homes, which are best removed with a sandblaster by a contractor. It can also be removed by wire brushing which can be a time-consumer but low-cost DIY project.

DO take steps to keep water away from your basement

Sometimes the solution to wet basement walls is easy to solve, such as removing foundation plants. Since these shrubs and flowerbeds require watering near the basement foundations, they allow water to leak in. Also inspect and if necessary, fix guttering and downspouts to ensure that water is directed away from your home. It is also a good idea to slope your yard away from your home’s foundation.

Another consideration for keeping water away from your basement is to have an exterior drain tile system installed. It requires excavating the soil or concrete from around the outside of your basement in order to install a perforated drain at the foot level. A waterproof membrane is built on the exterior of the basement wall. The system could also require installing a buried sump pump that collects and pumps water to the surface. This solution has the potential to significantly minimize basement water problems for years down the line.

DON’T forget interior drainage solutions

Another method to get dry basement walls is to install a drainage channel beneath the basement floor. The drain is similar to the exterior drain tile but it is situated inside on the basement walls. New walls are created on the interior of the drain so the original basement walls are not visible. Once completed you will have new dry walls and any leftover water that seeps through the old basement walls will be routed to the drain channel and drained away. This solution is optimal when the exterior ground cannot be excavated.

Basement waterproofing is critical in protecting your home and your belongings against severe water damage. The next time you discover a wet spot in your basement, keep these simple tips in mind to help you keep your property dry. Some solutions are simple preventative measures like checking and sealing cracks or regularly cleaning gutters. While other solutions require a greater investment like interior and exterior basement waterproofing. Regardless of what you choose to implement, keeping your basement free from any water will keep your home free from any unwanted water problems.