A basement can be a great addition to any home, giving you extra space for storage, a home workshop, a gym or a private retreat. However, any basement is only as good as it is dry. Since basements are below ground structures, they can be subjected to moisture from both outside, in the form of leakage and seepage or inside, in the form of humidity. Waterproofing a basement is a matter of tackling the problem from within and from without. As a rule, waterproofing a basement is a job best left to the damp proofing experts, but there are many things you can do yourself to prevent or minimise the problem:
Waterproofing a Basement from the Outside
Whether you notice leakage from near the floor of your basement or from around the windows or elsewhere, improper drainage is usually a big part of the reason. As rain water soaks into the soil, it gradually forms a water table deep beneath the soil. Your basement may be acting like a dam beneath the surface of the earth, preventing water from draining away. The hydrostatic pressure of this water forces it to seep into your basement wherever it can. The only way to prevent this from happening is by installing a drainage system that directs rain water away from the house before it gets a chance to seep into the soil:
- Check your gutters and downpipes regularly. Make sure the gutters are clean and free of debris and that when water comes out of the downpipes, it is being directed well away from the sides of the house. If you are on a sloping block, ground level drainage away from the house may nip the problem in the bud.
- If you are on a level block, you may need to install below ground level drainage to direct water well away from the house. It is better to get a damp proofing expert top help you with a job like this than to tackle it on your own.
If you are building a new home, you have the opportunity to thoroughly waterproof your basement from the outside. Called "tanking", because it effectively turns your basement into a waterproof tank, this, combined with a drainage system, should ensure that your basement remains dry in even the wettest weather.
Waterproofing a Basement from the Inside
It is never advisable to only try to waterproof a basement from the inside. However, if combined with good exterior drainage, using specially designed wall coatings on the basement walls will help protect the walls from rising damp or "weeping". A good hardware
store near you may be able to supply you with the right sealers and fillers for keeping water seeping into your basement.
If the problem persists or if you have a severe problem with rising damp or leakage, then get a damp proofing
professional in your area to analyse and fix the problem for you. They have the expertise needed to get the job done right. Also, think about installing a dehumidifier
in your basement. A basement is a tightly sealed environment that often has high levels of moisture with no means of escape. This can create an unhealthy environment that allows allergens and other pollutants to thrive. Between your waterproofing and your dehumidifyier, you will end up with a basement that you can really put to use and enjoy.