In this article we provide information on various aspects of foundation waterproofing repairs that you as a homeowner really must know before calling basement waterproofing companies to get quotes to repair a leak in your basement.
The traditional way to waterproof a foundation
The traditional way to waterproof a foundation, going back about 90 years, has been and continues to be, to excavate around the foundation, apply a waterproof coating and change the weeping tile (in a nutshell). This process is equivalent to an “overhaul” as it effectively takes you back to the time when the house was originally built, as that was the last time the foundation walls were fully exposed.
This “traditional” waterproofing of foundations involves the following steps:
- Excavate around the home to the extent that waterproofing is required;
- Apply a coating onto the foundation walls to render them “waterproof”, and install a damp-proof membrane over top of the waterproof coating once it has cured;
- Replace the existing weeping tile which may or may not be capable of efficiently draining water that has accumulated at the footing; and
- Backfill and compact the soil.
Click on the following hyperlink for a much more detailed article on how exterior waterproofing is carried out.
Having met 1000’s of homeowners over the years it is clear that the ideology “the only way to waterproof a foundation is to excavate around the house and waterproof the walls” is alive and well. While this belief is quickly changing, many people still consider digging up the foundation and waterproofing the exterior foundation walls as the “proper” and only way to waterproof a foundation.
There are alternatives to digging up around your house to waterproof your basement
As an informed homeowner it is essential to know that traditional approach to basement waterproofing is but one of several waterproofing methods available today; however, the majority of contractors (both general contractors and waterproofing contractors) will recommend and provide you with a quote for this method of foundation waterproofing; it is our opinion that this is the case for several reasons:
- The contract value for external waterproofing work is high, so there is more profit to be made; (you may wish to read our post on the cost of waterproofing a basement)
- It is widely believed that the cause of basement leaks is broken / faulty / clogged weeping tile; as this merits further discussion, we discuss this further on another page of this site – check out the article on weeping tile replacement;
- The level of skill required to externally waterproof a foundation is low, making it possible to hire seasonal workers to carry out the work with virtually no experience and/or training; and
- If a foundation is waterproofed from the exterior it is not generally necessary for a salesperson to positively establish the cause / location of a basement leak, making quotes quick and easy to do. Caution – a cursory inspection of your basement could cause you to spend many $1000’s more than you have to, and many people have. To pursue this further, read our blog post on basement leaks that are not caused by a leaky basement.
Repairing foundation cracks from the outside
Sometimes the cause of a basement leak is a crack (or cracks) in the foundation. Like waterproofing a foundation from the outside, traditional crack repair involves excavating the foundation where the crack is, all the way down to the footing (it is crucial to excavate the foundation to that depth). Waterproofing the crack on the outside should be done by installing a flexible membrane over top of the crack. Patching over the crack with cement and/or applying a tar coating will not stand the test of time.
It should be noted that this type of repair method doesn’t actually fix a crack. This approach is really the application of a patch over the crack so that water cannot penetrate the crack and leak into the basement.
Click here to read about fixing cracks from outside in more detail. If you have a home built after 1980 be sure to read our article on crack repair for poured concrete foundations.
Do you have a concrete block foundation? If so, crack repair is more complicated; follow this link for more information on how block foundations are waterproofed.