Transforming your basement from a storage space to a fully-furnished room is a big job, but it can be really rewarding! But before bringing inexpensive flooring material, new drywall, and stylish furniture, you have to start with waterproofing. Making sure your foundation is solid will protect your new living space from leaks and costly water damage in the future. Good waterproofing will save you from having to renovate again!
Exterior Foundation Waterproofing
Many foundations are only as good as their exterior waterproofing. If your home is an older home in the area, chances are your foundation is made from blocks of stone, which means there will be massive cracks through which moisture will get through and, ultimately, ruin your basement. These are the harder homes to renovate because the basement wasn’t really made to be enjoyed – they’re more utilitarian. Even if the older home has a concrete foundation, if it hasn’t been finished, it will need the best protection.
The solution for the block or concrete foundations is a good barrier that won’t be penetrated through wear and tear. For foundations, you’ll want to approach it from the exterior, digging a trench around the perimeter of your home. A weeping tile drain will be installed at the bottom of the trench, and the exterior of the foundation will be cleaned and sprayed with a waterproof tar. A barrier of crushed round stone is then used to fill the trench, with the stones allowing moisture to fall through and be drained away via your weeping tile system. Make sure that the ground slopes away from your foundation, too.
Once a protective system is in place, you can focus on the interior walls, making sure that any cracks are repaired and that moisture is dealt with before installing the insulation. If it’s still damp, mould can easily grow and spread through the walls and insulation. But you should also make sure that the basement is equipped to deal with any unforeseen issues, too.
Interior Basement Waterproofing
When contemplating renovations, not only make sure that your interior is protected from the outside, but also that’s it’s equipped to drain off any water on the inside. If you’ve made sure that the waterproofed exterior of the foundation is solid as a million tiny rocks, what’s required is minimal, but not all homeowners can take on such an extensive job. Before putting up drywall and other important jobs that make a basement liveable, make sure all interior cracks and weaknesses are repaired. This includes around window wells and doorframes.
The most important aspect of interior waterproofing is installing a sump pit or ensuring that your sump pump is in working condition. If you live in an older home without a sump pit, it should be installed at the lowest point of the foundation, where gravity will pull and collect the water. Once the water is at a certain depth, a sump pump will kick in and deposit the unwanted moisture outside the foundation (hopefully, when properly installed, far away from it!).
Even if you’ve got the foundation walls protected, you have to make sure that there are no other drainage issues or potential weak spots. If you uncover previously unknown water damage in the course of your renovations, make these repairs the priority and look into the cause of the damage. It could be an interior leak you haven’t noticed or an exterior weakness that went unpatched.