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It would seem logical that waterproofing compounds should help solve your leaking problem. The fact is, waterproofing paints or other interior compounds are helpful only in cases of mild and occasional capillary seepage. Capillary waterproofing materials can be applied to either exterior or interior walls and floor surfaces. Please note that waterproofing paint is most effective if applied directly over cement; not existing painted walls. When properly applied, waterproofing compounds penetrate several inches into the concrete and close off capillaries or minor cracks by forming crystals when water shows up. It goes without saying that you should carefully read the label of any waterproofing product so you understand product's limitations and terms of any promised guarantee.
Need to get rid of condensation? No sweat. The first step is to insulate the water pipes. Also, make sure you keep your basement well-ventilated. Sunlight and free air movement can quickly dry out a basement, except when the weather outside is hot and humid. Keep your windows closed hot, humid weather or long rainy spells. Why? The outside air will most likely contain more moisture than the basement air. If you don't want to open your windows to the summer heat, use air conditioning or dehumidifiers to keep the air cool and dry. Heat the basement during the winter. Follow this simple advice and you'll have a sweat-free basement all year round.
So, you've got puddling, do you, ducky? Have you ever thought of installing gutters and downspouts? If you already have them installed, make sure you clean them out regularly. You wouldn't believe the stuff that collects in there. If you have leaves and twigs from nearby trees collecting in a gutter, install a basket-shaped wire strainer over the downspout outlet or place screening across the length of the gutter. Don't let your gutters and downspouts fall into disrepair. Repair those suckers immediately. To prevent water puddling as it comes down your downspout, use a concrete gutter or splash block to carry the water away at a slope of one inch per foot. Also, you might think of extending your downspouts from rain gutters away from the outside foundation. Finally, you can pipe roof water into an underground storm drain, dry well, or surface outlet, fifteen feet or more from the house.
It's sad, but true. A lot of yards don't make the grade when it comes to keeping water out of your basement. Improper grading around the house is one of the leading causes of basement leaks. This problem can be corrected, though, be advised that it is usually not a do-it-yourself type project. Anyway, here's what you can do to help the situation.
• See how severe the problem is. Do you see depressions that could be filled easily, or are you looking at a major regrading?
• If small depressions are your only problem, order fill dirt (unless you have some available on your property) and fill them in. You can probably get your fill at a local construction site, local nursery, or landscaping supply house. After the dirt has settled, check back in a few days (preferably after a rain). If you still see depressions, add more fill.
• If your yard requires more extensive work, it's time to consult with an excavation contractor or a landscaper with grading experience. Your job may require the operation of heavy equipment or the installation of foundation drains and other projects beyond the ability of most home owners.
• Discuss options with the contractor. Make sure you discuss the impact of the work on your property, such as tree removal or damage to shrubs and other landscaping. Be aware that this kind of work will probably cause considerable damage; allow room in your budget for seeding, sod and plantings.
• Make a contract with the contractor.
If your lawn is flat or slopes toward your house, you could be in for a long wet spell and some big-time relandscaping. The trick is to make sure the ground slopes away from the outside foundation (about one inch per foot) for at least ten feet. Seed the land with a good lawn grass. Sodding may be a better idea since it prevents newly graded areas from washing away during heavy rains. If you have large area of land that slope toward the house, you'll need to intercept and redirect surface drainage some distance from the house. You can dig a shallow, half-round drainage ditch or depression which should route the water around the house. Sod the ditch (as they say in Britain) or plant grass in it. *If you don't like the idea of a ditch, sodded or otherwise, you may want to install drainage tiles with one or more catch basins at low spots.
If you want to add a little pizzazz to your dull gray basement floor, you might want to try painting it. According to the pros, painting has all the benefits of sealing and then some. Once you have the right materials and tools, follow these simple steps:
1. Prepare and seal the floor.
2. Mix a two-part epoxy paint that is designed for use on concrete floors according to the manufacturer's instructions. Mix only what you plan to use. Allow the mixed paint to rest for the specified time before application.
3. Mask any baseboard trim, floor drains and posts that you don't want to paint.
4. Use a paintbrush or trim pad to cut in paint along the edges.
5. Use a roller with a long handle attachment to apply the rest of the paint.
6. Some paint kits come with paint chips, which add a decorative element and provide a nonslip terrazzo-like finish. Sprinkle such chips on the wet finish before moving on to the next area.
* Don't walk on the floor for at least 12 hours.
If your below-grade basement windows are unprotected, you're gonna get soaked every rainy season. You need to protect them with metal or masonry window wells with gravel at the bottom to provide drainage. *If you want total coverage, you can get yourself clear plastic bubbles that cover the entire window well like an awning.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|