It’s that time of year again, when the weather becomes warmer, the trees begin to leaf, and the snow begins to melt. With the melting snow comes water – and lots of it. With over half of North American homeowners having some degree of moisture in their basement, taking the proper precautions to avoid a flooded basement is not only a great idea, it could save you a lot of money in the future.

Assessing The Costs

Taking preventative measures, as well as fixing most leaking basement situations (as long as there are no cracks or structural damages to the foundation), can be fixed in a few hours and cost no more than a couple hundred dollars. If you discover hairline fractures in the cinder blocks where water is beginning to seep in, don’t panic, they can be fixed relatively easily and cost an additional $50 or so over the cost of the preventative measures.

If while assessing your basement, you encounter multiple cracks in one area or find any other signs of serious structural damage, don’t try to fix these on your own. Call a reputable concrete contractor or foundation specialist to come in and assess the damage and give you an estimate of the overall cost. In this situation, it’s best to get multiple quotes and be sure to check the references of the contractors you select.

Preventable Measures Step 1 – Check Outside For Any Exterior Problems

The first step when preventing basement moisture and flooding is to be sure that your eavestroughs are clear of any debris, such as leaves, pine needles, or branches. Be sure that they aren’t cracked, bent or falling off. Check the downspouts to make sure they are in good working order and that the rainwater is being directed away from your house. Adding a corrugated plastic extension pipe to the bottom of your downspout will help to draw water away from your house’s foundation. Stretch the plastic roughly 4 or 5 feet in length and insert the smaller end into the downspout. Use a self-tapping metal screw to hold it in place and to ensure that it doesn’t come back out. Once the extension is in place, make sure that it’s pointing away from your house, directing the water away from your foundation.

Next, check the grade around your home. The fill should slope away from your home helping to divert water from your foundation. If the fill has settled and sloping towards your house, you’ll start having problems with water (if you don’t already). It would be a good idea to have a load of dirt brought in and build the grade back up so it’s sloping away from your home’s foundation.

Repairing Interior Cracks

If you’ve discovered minor cracks in your basement’s foundation where water is beginning to seep in, and you’ve removed any of the possible outside sources that could be putting pressure on your foundation, it’s time to seal those cracks using hydraulic cement to  prevent any further water from leaking in.

Warning – It’s common to find small cracks in your foundation no matter how old your house is. The trick is knowing which cracks are harmless and can be patched easily, and which cracks are warning signs of a much bigger problem. If you’re not sure, it’s best to have a concrete professional assess the damage.

The first step to sealing these cracks is to take a hammer and a chisel to widen the cracked area. Be sure to angle the opening in a “V” shape, so the inside of the area is wider than the outside. This causes the hydraulic cement to lock in place as it hardens and expands. Once the crack is widened, clean the area with water and a stiff brush ensuring that all dust and cement debris is removed from the area. The next step is to mix a batch of hydraulic cement using the instructions provided by the manufacturer, then roll the mixed cement into a ball. Apply the cement in two steps. For the first step, press the cement into the crack leaving a half inch gap from the opening. Once the first batch dries, apply another layer of cement flush with the opening of the damaged area.

* Note – Be sure to dampen the area with water before applying the cement. This will help the concrete bond with the existing surface.

Preventative Measures  Step 2 – Sealing the concrete to prevent moisture

Once the water pressure is removed from outside and the cracks are all sealed, the next step is to water proof your basement. One way to do that is to seal the wall with a masonry waterproofing paint. Before applying the paint, you need to prep the concrete foundation. Scrape any peeling paint off the wall, then use a broom and sweep off any dust or debris that will get in the way of applying the paint. Once the wall has been prepped, use a paint roller, or stiff brush made specifically for masonry, and apply the paint generously, pushing the paint into all the cracks and crevices of the cinder blocks. Allow 12 hours between coats to ensure the paint has enough time to cure.

If your basement is still damp after you’ve taken all the precautions you can against outside moisture, try picking up a dehumidifier and placing it down there. This should solve any other moisture issues that come from your basement.

No one likes a leaking basement, but with a little bit of effort, you can save yourself a lot of money, not to mention the headaches that come from water damage. If you would like more information about preventable basement leaks or concrete foundation repair, contact us and we’ll keep you headache free and your basement dry.