While basements are incredibly versatile, they are also vulnerable to water damage. Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States and lead to soggy basements that cost upwards of $10,000 to fix. The good news is that proper basement waterproofing can help you keep your home dry and avoid the headache of water-related problems. With that in mind, here are simple dos and don’ts of waterproofing basement walls.

Do Find the Sources of Basement Wall Leaks

Basement waterproofing cannot be effective unless you address the root cause of the leaks. Cracks in concrete walls are a leading cause of water leaks. They form over time when hydrostatic pressure causes the soil to shift, leading to foundation settlement. Plumbing issues such as leaking or broken pipe and clogged perimeter drains can lead to a wet basement.

Concrete is porous, and as such, wet streaks will tell you where the water is coming from. Be on the lookout for water spots and mold growth between mortar joints, at the basement window wells, and along the old basement walls. An older house is susceptible to a wet basement, so check for patched areas on the floor. You’ll want to check for existing sealed or patched areas in the basement.

Don’t Ignore Standing Water

A crucial step towards attaining dry basement walls involves removing any standing water within 24-48 hours. It helps prevent mold and mildew growth, rotted wood, respiratory issues, and other problems that come with water damage.  It’s also worth noting that doing wall repairs in a flooded basement exposes you to the risk of electrocution.

The best thing you can do to protect against further water damage after a flood is to clean out the room thoroughly. Remove everything from the basement and give it a good scrub with a household cleaner to kill any mold. Leave out anything that’s soaked until it’s dry.

Do Research Methods of Waterproofing Basement Walls

There are three main methods of basement waterproofing – sealants & epoxy injections, interior drainage, and exterior waterproofing. Sealants and epoxy injections are more of a band-aid than a long-term solution. An interior basement waterproofing system is usually the best way to keep your basement dry. It works by pushing water away from the foundation walls and directing it outside. It involves installing a French drain along the perimeter and a sump pump system.

Waterproofing original basement walls from the outside involve:

  • Installing an underground trench drain.
  • Coating the exterior walls with polymer/membranes.
  • A combination of both.

The downside of exterior basement waterproofing is that it is costly and can be dangerous. Exterior drains are susceptible to clogging, which leads to a flooded basement floor.


Do Apply Sealant on Bare Interior Basement Walls

The easiest fix for a damp basement always seems effective until it isn’t. Home improvement stores offer a wide variety of waterproof sealants, all of which claim to be the best and promise to fix every leaky basement or foundation. It couldn’t be further from the truth.

Every wet basement is unique, and it’s never a good idea to cut corners when waterproofing the foundation walls. Using a waterproofing product to seal a leak temporarily is okay as you wait for a foundation contractor to implement a lasting waterproofing solution. Otherwise, remember that the best basement waterproofing system is one that’s tailored to your home.

The waterproofing product only adheres to bare interior basement walls made from concrete. Keep in mind that if the previous owner had used high-quality waterproof paint on the interior walls, you’d have to remove the paint first. You may also have to remove efflorescence, a white deposit that often occurs on concrete surfaces in older houses.

Do Take Measures to Keep Water Away from the Basement Wall

Sometimes, the solution to preventing basement wall leaks is not so hard. Start with repairing the exterior drainage system. Repair the gutters and downspout, ensuring they direct water away from the basement walls effectively.

Remove any flowerbeds and bushes near the house that require watering, which increases the risk of water seeping into old basement walls. It also helps to grade your yard away from the house. Make sure it is at least a 2% slope.

Consider installing an exterior drainage system. It requires excavating the soil around the basement walls and installing a perforated drain at the footing level. A waterproof membrane is then installed on the exterior of the basement wall. A buried sump pump is then added to collect residual water and pump it away. It is a job for a professional basement waterproofing professional.

Don’t Ignore Cracks on the Basement Floor

There are structural and non-structural cracks in foundation repair. Structural cracks are the most dangerous, but that doesn’t negate the role of non-structural cracks in water damage. They allow outside water to seep into the basement and should be repaired as soon as possible.

Be on the lookout for surface holes and wall cracks, allowing moisture to leak into the foundation. A caulking gun and an epoxy-based resin may be effective for sealing these cracks and curbing the leak. Get in touch with a waterproofing professional to ensure the job is done right the first time.

Do Clean Your Gutters

Gutters play a vital role in the basement waterproofing system. They collect rainwater from the roof, direct it to the downspouts, and away from the house. If you don’t clean your gutters regularly, they become clogged with dirt and leaves. It makes it difficult for them to do their job.

Instead of directing rainwater to the storm drain, they overflow and send water directly into the basement through the foundation wall. It leads to foundation cracks, standing water, and extensive water damage in the basement. Do yourself a favor and take a day or two to clean the gutters before the flood season starts.

Don’t Forget Interior Drainage Solutions

Perhaps the most effective solution to dry basement walls is implementing interior drainage solutions. Start by installing a drain channel that runs beneath the floor inside the basement. Similar to the exterior drain tile, it’s located just inside the basement walls. A new wall is built inside the drain, ensuring that the original basement walls are no longer visible.

When the foundation contractor is done, you’ll have dry basement walls. Any residual water that seeps through the new walls will be directed into the drain channel and pumped away from the house.

Do Address Window Well Leaks

Window wells would be a common source of wall leaks, especially if the builder didn’t install a proper drainage system at the time of construction. The basement window tends to retain water after floods, leading to water seeping into the basement walls.

To address window well leaks, consider digging two feet lower in the window well area. Fill the space with gravel and caulk the area with a product suitable for concrete. It will ensure that the rainwater disperses away from the house rather than collect in the basement windows.

Do Call a Basement Waterproofing Company

There is no quick fix to attaining dry basement walls. You need the help of a basement waterproofing professional with the skills and knowledge of the industry. Hiring a professional will give you peace of mind that your basement walls won’t retain water no how big future storms area.

A good foundation contractor will install a reliable interior drainage system to push water away from the basement walls.  They will install a slab pier to stabilize your concrete slab foundation, fill in cracks and make foundation wall repairs with hydraulic cement, and install a sump pump system.

The immediate benefit of working with a waterproofing professional is that they can perform a thorough inspection of your basement. If there is a small crack in the wall or floor where moisture can get through, they will find it. You get to enjoy various waterproofing services, including proprietary waterproofing methods on stairwell drains, window wells, and reinforced wall liners.

Do You Need Help Drying a Wet Basement in Cincinnati, OH? Contact Apke Total Restoration

You are taking immediate action after a flood is crucial to basement waterproofing and preventing water damage. The certified technicians at Apke Total Restoration use high-quality machinery and skills to dry your basement and mitigate any water damage to your home.


Got any questions? Call us at (513) 613-9787 to find out how we waterproof basements and to perform damaged wall repair.