Vulcan Basement Waterproofing DIY Guide

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1 - An Expert Do-It-Yourselfers Guide To Leaky Basements Vulcan Waterproofing has been in business since 1947 and is a time-honored, nationally known name that specializes in basement waterproofing. But since we can t be everywhere, we ve developed this simple guidebook to help the average homeowner identify and correct problems where they may exist. For most of us, our home is the largest and most valuable possession and investment we will make in our lifetimes. Often during the course of our time as homeowners our needs and situations change over time. We may find we need additional living space or our growing family requires more storage or functional work space. Finding extra space when we re cramped can be a challenge that many Americans will run into at one time or another. Fortunately, for those of us with basements, we know a diamond in the rough when we see one. It s usually far less expensive and more in line with our lifestyle to expand into that unused space than bear the cost and difficulty of moving to a new home that might pull us away from family, friendships or simply is outside our reach financially. Enter that unused rough space directly below our feet! It already has rough walls, floor, & ceiling, and finishing these surfaces can be a relatively simple and inexpensive job, providing us with the space and comfort we need. However, there's no use trying to make a basement livable unless you are certain that it presents no major or even minor moisture problems. Whether it s a new home you purchased with the idea of expanding into that space or the family homestead you ve been living in for years, renovating the basement only to find that it becomes a sodden mess with the first rain or thaw can be a devastating experience in both money and morale. So before you think about ways to turn your basement into a living area, think about ways to ensure that it will be dry and free of unwanted water. Even if you have lived in your home for many years, you may not be completely aware of the amount of moisture that penetrates the basement walls and floor. It s important to remember that even a relatively dry basement can at times admit or generate enough moisture to injure finishing materials. So the first step in remodeling a basement is to inspect it thoroughly for signs of water penetration or moisture. If you find any, you must then determine the cause and take appropriate corrective action before you attempt any work. How should you proceed? First, make sure you do a very thorough inspection of all the areas where moisture or water can or may have entered sometime in the past. Look for tell-tale signs that moisture has been a problem in the past. It s unlikely that you ll know every time that some penetration has existed or appeared. 1. Examine the basement walls closely. If they are poured concrete, note the condition of the concrete surrounding the exposed ends of any visible metal tie-rods embedded in the walls. Efflorescence on the concrete indicates that water is seeping in around the rods. (Efflorescence is the white deposits of lime created by the leaching of moisture out of the masonry). If it is present, seal the ends of the rods. 2. If your basement walls are masonry block, check the condition of the mortar joints. Crumbly joints will admit water from the outside and should be repainted. If deterioration is widespread, the joints will probably require the attention of a professional because this condition undermines the strength of the foundation wall.

2 3. Examine walls carefully for vertical and horizontal cracks. They are potential sources of trouble, especially those surrounded by efflorescence and/or discoloration. This indicates definite moisture penetration and should be sealed. 4. Openings frequently develop in the area where walls and floor meet, permitting insects and moisture to enter the basement. Be sure you seal these crevices. 5. Inspect the mortar joints around piping and conduit that enter the basement below grade. These joints often leak and should be made watertight. 6. Check the structure where the frame rests on the foundation wall. Unevenness in the top of the wall (particularly common in a poured concrete foundation) often leaves gaps between it and the framing. These gaps allow outside moisture to enter the basement and should be grouted or caulked. 7. Look for efflorescence on the slab floor of the basement. As on walls, it indicates water seepage through the masonry. Cracks in the floor around lally columns are common and, like all other openings in the floor, they should be sealed. 8. Check water pipes for condensation (caused by warm air flowing over cold pipes). Condensation dripping from pipes can ruin basement ceiling tiles. So as a precaution, you may do well to wrap overhead water pipes with insulating tape before installing a ceiling underneath them. In short, you should examine all ways that water can get in your basement. If you find only minor moisture penetration, you may be able to fix it yourself. There are many do-it-yourself kits and preparations available on the market to help you. One such kit, for instance, contains epoxies for sealing tie rods and small cracks. To repair a crack, you chise l it out in the form of a V, with the widest part of the V inside the wall. Then you trowel in an epoxy filler and finally brush on an epoxy sealant. Also widely available are waterproofing paints and epoxies that you apply to inside the basement walls. You brush on the paints or scrub them into the walls. The epoxies consist of two elements that have to be mixed. You can brush some of these compounds on, but others are thick and have to be troweled on. Generally, the epoxies are deemed to be more effective than the paints. These coatings can help to remedy many basement moisture problems that are not too severe. Their effective life however, is of fairly short duration, so remember; waterproofing paints and epoxies for inside application will require re-application so they're not recommended as the sole waterproofing protection for basement walls where you intend to cover, panel or sheetrock, thereby making reapplication impossible. TIP: Interior sealing repairs are invariably of a temporary nature. All materials, including concrete, expand and contract with changes in temperature. This results in a re-opening of most repaired cracks. Is it that easy? Well not quite! So far we have only been talking about things you can do inside your basement to help alleviate seepage. All the measures mentioned have value. But none of them solves the most important problem connected with basement waterproofing: keeping as much water as possible away from outside basement walls below grade. Two contributing causes of leaky basements are faulty roof gutters and leaders. Gutters

3 that overflow and leaders that empty next to foundation walls can effectively flood the walls with rainwater that will almost inevitably find its way inside. You should make sure that your gutters and leaders are functioning properly. It will help divert rainwater away from your house. A contributing cause of leaky basements is gutter leaders that empty next to foundation walls. Install plastic sleeves that direct runoff away from the house. Check your gutters. They shouldn't sag and allow water to spill over their edges in heavy rains. They should be free of leaves to permit proper drainage, and the same thing applies to leaders. Leaders can become so clogged that no water can pass through them, with the result that it backs up, causing gutters to overflow. Once you have determined that your gutters and leaders can handle runoff adequately, make sure that your leaders do not deposit this runoff within 5' of your house. You can do this by attaching sections of the bituminous fiber pipe to the end of the leaders, so that they empty the required distance away from basement walls. Or, instead of the pipe, you can use plastic sleeves that are especially made for attachment to leaders. In dry weather, the sleeves roll up out of the way. In rainy weather, water flowing out of the leaders forces the sleeves to unroll and direct the water away from the house. Time was when waterproofing contractors recommended that you divert water from leaders into dry wells. But experience has shown that dry wells can fill up quickly, causing water in the leaders to back up and spill over the gutters. So best practice now calls for leaders simply to empty at some grade-level point where run-off can't find its way back to the house. As an added precaution, you should slope planting beds away from basement walls. A slope of 25 degrees for a distance of at least 5' is recommended. It will keep rain that falls directly on the beds from settling in puddles next to the house and seeping into the foundation. These measures may help to keep water from penetrating basement walls. But, if they prove inadequate, you may have to erect a waterproof barrier between the walls and the surrounding earth. There are two ways to do this, and both require the services of professional waterproofing contractors. First, you can hire a contractor to excavate the earth around your basement walls, exposing them so that he can encase them with waterproofing material. A layered coating consisting of tar, membrane (tar impregnated fabric), polyethylene film, and more tar makes a good moisture barrier. In addition to this, the contractor may install drain tiles around the footings of the walls. Properly done, outside coating methods of waterproofing are more effective than inside coating, but can be a drastic and costly solution. It involves chopping up and replacing established landscaping and concrete, such as plantings, grass, adjacent walks, steps, patios, etc. Coating outside walls, in many cases, if well done, will help alleviate water seepage though the walls into the basement. But all too often, there are many cases in which further treatment is required. These cases involve hydrostatic pressure (water pressure from underground springs, rivers, ground water, etc.) and a fluctuating high water table (a build-up of ground water that lies close to the surface of the earth). A basement affected by one or more of these conditions pose a special problem. Signs of their presence is indicated by water that seeps in at the cove (where

4 the wall meets the floor) or up through the slab floor. The solution to these problems lies; (1) In relieving the water pressure under the floor and around the foundation perimeter, and; (2) In diverting the water to a point where it can be pumped out or otherwise removed from the basement. To successfully arrive at this solution, a method pioneered and advocated by Vulcan Waterproofing employs a pressure relief system that requires no outside digging or destruction of property. It involves cutting a trench in the floor around the perimeter of the basement, next to the foundation walls. The trench must be excavated down to the footings and a system of drain tiles installed. The system must be adequately sized so that it can carry off all the water to a sump pump or drain for removal from the house. After the lines are installed, the trench must be filled with gravel, bleeders installed in the block walls and the floor is re-sealed with concrete. If the system is not properly designed, it will clog and back up. So, even though a handy homeowner could conceivably install the system himself, he would probably do better to engage a professional waterproofing contractor to do the work - and most importantly, a contractor who is willing to guarantee it. Indeed, a written guarantee for all professionally performed waterproofing is essential. Like many segments of the building industry, the waterproofing business attracts some flyby-night operators. The homeowner who requires waterproofing must take it upon him TIP: Installation of a sump pit and pump helps to control high-level water build-up on the basement floor and corners. TIP: To help control moisture in your basement, maintain even temperatures, preserve finishing materials by building studded walls at least 4 out from masonry walls & wrap water pipes with insulating tape to retard condensation. self to check the reliability of any waterproofing contractor he hires. He must also demand that all work be guaranteed and backed by a service agreement, should problems arise. Most any basements subject to severe water penetration and infiltration, like that caused by hydrostatic pressure, can be finished as livable space. If your basement is relatively dry and you decide to remodel it, these further points may be helpful to you: In some basements, condensation or clamminess is a problem. You can determine its severity by this simple test: During humid weather, tape a sheet of aluminum foil to a basement wall overnight. If the foil is wet the following morning, condensation is something that should concern you. To correct it, as noted earlier, you should insulate water pipes. You should also make provision to dry out the air in the basement. You can do this by heating the basement or installing a ventilation system that exhausts humid air to the outdoors. In the case of severe condensation, you may also have to install a dehumidifier. But remember this; outdoor conditions cause humid basement air. You can't eliminate it by opening windows. They'll only bring more of it inside. Your best methods of control are drying it out, through heat or air conditioning, or exhausting it to the outdoors. However, the following methods of finishing your basement can also decrease humidity. If you intend to stud your basement walls so you can sheetrock with gypsum board or panel them, build the studded walls a minimum of 4 " out from the masonry walls.

5 Nail the top plates of the studded walls to the ceiling joists and set the sills on the slab floor. In between the plates and sills, toenail tightfitting studs that exert pressure on the sills and keep them in place. The object is to eliminate the need to nail the sills to the slab floor, for the nails used to affix wood to concrete often crack the masonry, allowing water to penetrate. In between the studs, install foil-backed insulation. This insulation, plus the 4" of dead-air space between the studded walls and the masonry walls, will help control moisture and maintain comfortable temperatures. But the main thing to bear in mind is this: If at any time water has penetrated your basement, chances are good that under certain weather conditions it will do so again, unless you take corrective action. So before you invest in basement finishing materials be sure that you have solved any major moisture problems your basement presents. Vulcan Basement Waterproofing has been serving the community for over 60 years and we re proud to be the number one basement waterproofing service company in the five state areas of; New York / New Jersey / Pennsylvania / Connecticut / Delaware Please visit us on the web at for more information Or call us at VULCAN-8 ( ) We re not just in the basement waterproofing business we invented it!

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