Exterior Waterproofing And Drainage DOs And DON’Ts

Keeping water away from your foundation is a good way to prevent it from leaking through to the basement. However, this helpful technique is not the single answer to fixing a wet basement. Basement Systems has outlined some tips on lightening the load on your sump pump with these foundation waterproofing tips.

What Causes Foundation Leaking?

A home’s foundation has the odds stacked against it from the day it’s built. When a home is excavated to make room for the foundation walls, space is left between the outer edge of the foundation wall and the earth around it. This area is then backfilled with excavated soil, creating an area of loose, fluffed earth. This earth is more absorbent than the unexcavated soil around it will ever be, and because of this, a false water table is created around your home. In most yards, whenever it rains, more water collects in the area immediately around your foundation than anywhere else.

As this water builds up, it exerts pressure on the foundation walls. This water will pass through the foundation walls in any way it possibly can- through cracks in the foundation walls, the basement or crawl space floor, or most often through the foundation wall floor joint. Additionally, water can be pushed through porous concrete and grout, entering the basement or crawl space in the form of dampness and humidity.

In order to solve this problem, water must be kept away from the area around the foundation whenever possible. And when this isn’t possible, that water must be removed.

Foundation Soil Grading

Over the course of several years, the excavated soil around the foundation will begin to settle. As it does, it will create a “dip” in the yard around the edge of the foundation that will collect water from rain and snow. This encourages water to collect around your foundation and will make your problem even worse.

If your foundation soil is pitched towards your home, it’s recommended that you add dirt to the area until the slope moves away from the house (this is known as “grading”). This soil should be dense- preferably clay soil. Adding sand and mulch will drain water straight through and around your foundation, ultimately making the problem worse. It’s also important to make sure that the soil does not reach up to the siding. A four-inch gap between the soil line and the siding will ensure that it will not rot or become a pathway for termites and carpenter ants seeking to enter your home.

Curtain Drains

If a home’s yard is located at the bottom of a steep hill or incline, then curtain drains are often installed somewhere along the edge of the incline. Curtain drains are created by digging a trench in the yard some distance from the foundation. Once dug, a pipe is laid in these trenches. Stone covers the pipe and fills in the area, appearing as a stripe of stone in the yard. While these drains are an effective way to limit water pooling in the yard, they don’t stop water from reaching the foundation from other directions around the house, nor do they stop water from reaching the foundation from the sky or passing through the ground beneath the drain. In short, they’re a poor way to keep a basement dry. Water will continue to build around the foundation, and it can still easily make its way into your basement. And while curtain drains prevent pooling on the short-term, these drains can clog with dirt and roots quickly and are not a reliable first line of defense.

Downspouts and Gutters

If a gutter is clogged with leaves and debris, it won’t be able to do its job for you. Make sure to do routine maintenance to be sure that it’s working smoothly and properly at all times, and, if possible, they’re screened to help prevent leaves from clogging the drainage. Once the gutters are working properly, however, you may notice a secondary problem; the water that runs through your downspouts is being ejected directly against your foundation! If this is the case, be sure to extend your downspouts as far away from your foundation as possible.

Unfortunately, downspout extensions are generally considered unfashionable. The reason for this is because installing one means adding an unsightly pipes or other fixtures at several points around your home. As well as being ugly, these pipes are a tripping hazard, and they create a constant and frustrating hassle when mowing the lawn. Purchasing a recessed downspout extension or an extension that can be buried without clogging with debris will keep water from the downspouts away from the foundation without interfering with the yard’s beauty or accessibility.