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All About Basement Waterproofing

While a basement can offer many benefits to a homeowner, like extra storage space, an extra room or a workshop, they can also have their downsides. The main downside of having a basement is that water and moisture can be a real problem. Water can leak in or condense in the basement for many reasons. One of the ways you can help to protect your basement from all that moisture is to have it waterproofed.

Waterproofing a basement isn’t as simple as it may sound. It actually involves a number of solutions. It will often involve drain repairs or drainage improvements both inside and outside your home to better direct water away from your basement. Gutters or downspouts may need to be replaced or repaired. It can also include repair or improvement of basement walls or floors. Cracks or crevices must be filled or fixed.  The walls and floors will also often be sealed with waterproof sealants. A sump pump may also be installed. A sump pump is simply a pump that removes water that collects in sump basins. These are commonly installed in basements to help control moisture, especially if the home’s foundation is below the water table. In addition, waterproofing may also involve increasing the air flow or installing additional ventilation such as fans, windows or even a dehumidifier.

When shopping around for a waterproofing service, you’ll want to make sure to get estimates from a number of vendors. Not only will the price vary widely, but the services they intend to perform may also vary. One service may recommend more than you need, while another may only include a few of the needed solutions.

It’s also very important to make sure that the company representative makes a thorough evaluation of your basement’s condition. They should check the basement thoroughly, but also the outside of the home.

If you are being proactive and trying to prevent basement water issues, or if you already have a basement treated with waterproof sealant that may be getting old and less effective, then you might only need the sealant service. To hire a professional to seal the basement can cost from $3500 to $4500 depending on the area and the size of your basement. If you need other services, these will add additional cost. A sump pump generally costs about $100 to $200. If you need sump pump installation, this can run from $600 to $1500. Seepage solutions such as new drains or gutters typically have a cost per section of $100 to $200. Simple leak repairs can cost $300 or more.  Serious issues such as foundation cracks can be very costly and vary widely, from a few thousand dollars to as much as $15,000 or more.

Some people may be tempted to do these repairs yourself. However, if you have little experience with home repair, this may be a bad idea. By seeking the help of a licensed professional, you’ll insure that the work is done properly. A poorly waterproofed basement can turn out to be much more costly than hiring a professional in the first place.

Interior Basement Waterproofing

If you have a basement, you’ve likely experienced leaks, condensation or even flooding at some point. This is just something that comes along with having a basement. There are benefits, but you have to accept the downsides as well. If you do have any type of water or moisture problem, it’s important to get it taken care of as soon as you can. While waterproofing should also be done outside your home, by fixing any drainage, gutter or pipe issues, the bulk of the work would likely take place inside the basement.

On the inside, make sure all cracks are fixed. You can often use waterproof putty or a liquid concrete product. Some cracks, such as serious foundation cracks, may require more extensive work which requires a contractor. You’ll also want to address any ventilation or airflow issues. The solution might be to make repairs or install new windows or vents. A dehumidifier or fan system might need to be installed as well. Once you have addressed the issues that were causing problems or were no longer effective, you can begin concentrating on prevention work.

On the inside, you can begin by damp-proofing the foundation wall surfaces. There are waterproof products that can be painted or sprayed on the wall which provide a critical layer of protection from the outside moisture. These products have a low permeance and are often used to waterproof commercial buildings. The low permeance helps to minimize soil diffusion. Look for a product with permeance of about 1.2.

When using a waterproofing sealant on your walls or floors, it’s critical that you choose one which adheres to the wall as smoothly as possible. This is important since the coating on the inside wall of the basement will be under strong negative pressure. Basically, the outside soil and the water trying to seep in will be pushing on that sealant, trying to peel it off. Therefore the success of the sealant will be highly dependent on how well it sticks to the wall and how well it is applied. Since the coating is not flexible, it is critically important that any underlying cracks or holes are fixed properly before applying it.

Another option for waterproofing your basement from the inside is to use foam insulation. This product can be applied to the inside walls of the basement after the waterproofing sealant has dried and cured completely. When using foam insulation, a wood frame wall must be built away from the foundation. This insulates the interior of the basement from any water, moisture or condensation; it can also help control the basement temperature and save you on heating and cooling costs.

Once you’ve sealed and/or properly insulated the basement, you’ll want to be careful as to what you place back in the basement and how you place it. If using the basement for storage, try to keep boxes away from walls, and don’t place them directly on the floor. Make sure airflow it good throughout the basement.

If you have little experience with home repairs, consider hiring a professional to perform your indoor basement waterproofing. Poorly done work due to your inexperience will likely cost more in the long run.

DIY Basement Waterproofing – Not A Good Idea

With the ever increasing popularity of DIY home remodeling and home repair shows, you might think that you can tackle just about any project in your home. However, there are a few home issues that are almost certainly left to the professionals. One obvious issue is electrical problems. Naturally, the inherent danger of working with electricity, especially if one is a novice, seems obvious. However, the other major home issue that is better left to the professionals is basement waterproofing.

Many people assume that any type of professional basement waterproofing work would be expensive. However, in many cases, it isn’t as expensive as one might think. For example, to have a professional waterproofing company fix a simple crack, it might be less than $500. Most companies also offer a warranty or guarantee with their work. Sometimes, it might even come with a lifetime warranty. If you have more than one crack to be fixed, the price might actually go down per crack, actually saving you some money. Since cracks are the biggest cause of basement problems, waterproofing companies have a lot of experience with this type of work. This experience is critical to getting the work done properly. If you try to fix cracks yourself, you might save some money and get it done. However, you probably won’t be able to do the work up to the standard of a hired professional. If you do the work yourself, the crack might not be fixed properly and you might even make the problem worse. When you hire a professional, you can always use the warranty to have it fixed again if needed.

It should be noted that basement waterproofing companies will always provide free estimates and consultations. At the very least, you should take advantage of this service, even if you plan to do-it-yourself. You may be surprised at the cost that is quoted, especially if you don’t need major work done. At the very least, the contractor will provide you with a list of the work you’ll need. Then, if you still feel it is a project you can handle, you can do the work yourself. Just remember that you won’t have a warranty or guarantee to fall back on. Basically, you have little to lose and everything to gain by soliciting some bids from reputable contractors.

Another issue with doing the work yourself is gathering the materials. You can head down to your local home improvement store and find most items you’ll need. However, you likely won’t know precisely what to buy. In addition, major home improvement stores simply won’t carry some items, as they don’t specialize in carrying basement or plumbing materials. When you hire a professional who specializes in basement waterproofing work, you can be sure that they will use the right materials and will have easy access to any materials the job might require. From sump pumps to pipes to vents to drains and gutters, they will be able to come to your home with the right equipment already. If you do the job yourself, it may take you quite some time to research and source everything you need.

DIY work in the basement can also be quite physical work; you’ll want to make sure you are in good physical condition. You’ll also want to think about when you resell your house. A home inspection by a prospective buyer may not think your DIY waterproofing work is up to a professional standard. It might even be turn out to be a deal breaker.

When it comes down to it, basement waterproofing is one aspect of home improvement that is best left to the professionals.

How Do I Get Rid of Basement Odor?

If you have a basement, a common problem you might experience is an odor. It can be caused by many things, from various types of leaks, lack of airflow, lack of light and many other issues. If you’ve already found the issue and fixed it, then your next course of action will be to get rid of that stubborn smell. You’ll want to do it soon after fixing the issue that caused the smell, as ignoring it can cause the smell to travel into other places in your home, such as your living space.

An air purifier can be effective at removing odors. These come in many sizes, from small units made for bathrooms to large units which can be used to purify the air in a large room. You’ll want to use one that covers a large area, so be sure to measure the size of your basement before heading out and making a purchase. To prevent the smell from returning, consider pairing it with a dehumidifier. This device is made specifically to remove moisture from a room. Without moisture in the basement, mold and mildew and their odors simply cannot thrive.

There are a number of options you can try that will absorb odors. There are commercial products available like Damp Rid, but you can also make an odor absorbing substance from items you likely already have in your home.

Charcoal naturally absorbs moisture. You can try placing some charcoal briquettes in a bowl and set it in your basement. Or place briquettes in old hosiery or socks and hang in areas of the basement which have the most odors. You can also opt for powdered charcoal and place that in ash trays around the basement. This is an especially good solution if you have a smoker in your home as charcoal can also absorb the odors from smoke.

Another remedy that some people swear by is placing bowls of vinegar in the basement. The vinegar is supposed to absorb the odors. When you first place the vinegar around the basement, you’ll find it will naturally have a strong vinegar smell for a day or so. However, after that, you’ll find the smell will disappear and so will the musty odor.

Coffee grounds can also help absorb odors in a smaller, more enclosed space like a basement closet, trunk or drawers. After you have your morning coffee, make sure to save the grounds. Place them in a paper bag and seal shut. These work well in closets, cabinets or other enclosed spaces.

Another old standby is baking soda. You might have seen boxes of baking soda available to place in your refrigerator and absorb food odors. However, you can use it to absorb odors anywhere in your home. Buy a large bag of baking soda and cut some holes in the package or leave the top open. Place one or more of these in your basement. You’ll be surprised at how effective baking soda can be at eliminating odors.

How to Get Rid of Dampness in Basement

Due to their location, it’s no surprise that basements often seem to attract dampness. Once you have a problem with dampness in your basement, it must be dealt with or it can turn into a bigger issue. Dampness can lead to water puddles, mold, mildew or even a toxic mold problem.

First, you’ll want to locate the source of the dampness. Do you see water or moisture anywhere? You might see a puddle of water in a corner or water running down the walls. These are obvious signs of a water issue that is causing dampness, but the problem may not be that easy to see. You’ll want to check every possibility. Groundwater can often enter through the walls if the ground outside is highly saturated, such as after a particularly bad storm or hurricane.

If you live in an area where the summers are humid, the outside air can cause water condensation on the walls or windows. Be sure to check all downspouts and gutters to make sure they aren’t sending water into your basement. It might even be a simple issue such as a clogged downspout or drain that is sending water towards your foundation, causing the dampness to build up. You’ll also want to check for cracks on the walls and foundation to make sure water isn’t leaking in from outside.

If you have a sump pump, make sure to check to make sure it is draining properly. Sometimes a sump pump can clog or can be frozen shut causing your basement to flood.

If you have a laundry dryer in your basement, it’s important that you check to make sure that the vent is hooked up properly. If it isn’t, your dryer may be leaking hot, humid air into the basement each time you use it.

The most common cause of dampness in the basement is simply high humidity, which can be from any number of reasons. By getting rid of the humidity in your basement, or by at least lessening it substantially, you can solve the problem.

The best way to lessen humidity in your basement is to use a dehumidifier. A dehumidifier actually works to suck the excess moisture out of the air. This prevents any condensation from building up, drastically reducing dampness. The dehumidifier also helps to move the air around your basement. You can have a permanent dehumidifier built in to your basement or use a portable one which you can turn on periodically.

Since humidity and dampness are exacerbated by a lack of airflow, another option would be to get the air moving by hooking up a fan once or twice a month and letting it run for a few hours. You can also help increase airflow by making sure that you avoid placing items against the walls. When using the basement for storage, try to place your boxes in a way which allows air to flow around them. You might also try placing boxes on pallets. By simply getting the air moving, you might solve the issue without a dehumidifier.

How to Get Rid Of Musty Smell in Basement

Basements are a common feature of homes built in many parts of the United States. They can be used as an extra room for guests, as a media room, computer room, den, office, laundry or even just storage. No matter what you use the basement for, it’s important to note that basements can have their own set of problems, separate from the rest of the home. One of the most common issues that a basement can have is a musty smell. Since basements are fully or partially underground, they don’t get much sunlight, if any. Basements also often have pipes running through them. These pipes can leak and cause an odor.  Even small leaks can cause a musty smell.

To get rid of the musty smell, you’ll first want to make an effort to identify what is causing the musty smell. Most likely it is from some sort of mildew. Look around for any mildew or mold. Use your sense of smell to sniff out what areas have the worst smell. Check under and around any carpet or flooring, check all pipes for leaks, and check any tiles or wall panels. Look for any visual signs of any mold or mildew buildup.

Once you believe you’ve found the culprit, you’ll want to remove all contaminated items from the basement. Place them out in your yard or other area where they can air out. You’ll also want to open the windows of the basement. If any textiles or fabric are contaminated, you’ll likely need to launder them to get the smell out. If the basement is very dark and wet, you’ll want to hook up a dehumidifier to remove some of the moisture before cleaning.

While you have the basement cleared out of most objects, you can begin the cleaning process. Since some types of mold are very toxic, you should consider having a professional mold remediation company come and check your basement. This is especially critical if you see any type of black mold. However, if you don’t have a bad mold infestation, and your problem is mainly the musty smell from mildew, you can try cleaning it yourself.

Be sure to wear safety gloves and a face mask. You can use a commercial product for the cleaning or mix a solution yourself. Most homemade solutions will contain boric acid, while others might use vinegar, hydrogen peroxide or bleach. Usually one of these liquids would be mixed with water. Then you would use a heavy duty brush or scrubber to remove the mildew. The best homemade solution is generally a cup of borax mixed with a gallon of water. Borax is a great option since it is inexpensive and highly effective as a fungicide. It also prevents regrowth of mildew.

Once you’ve cleaned out the basement and items. You’ll want to carefully consider what items you place back in your basement, as placing too many items in the basement can restrict airflow and cause the problem all over again.

References:

http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/rooms-and-spaces/basement/waterproofing-basements
http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/video/0,,20057861,00.html

 

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