Scenario#5:The Leaks-A-Lot Most of the Time Basement

Scenario#5: The Leaks-A-Lot Most of the Time Basement

You’ll almost certainly need professional help to make this kind of basement dry, and even then success can’t always be guaranteed. You could very well be dealing with a groundwater situation and this will require some very diligent fixes to deal with. A professional basement waterproofing contractor might be able to work from inside your basement (avoiding a big mess in your yard), but more likely success will require digging up all around the perimeter of your house and installing or renewing drainage tiles, a waterproof membrane and dimpled drainage sheeting. There are two pieces of bad news if you’ve got a leaks-a-lot basement. First, fixing this problem will be expensive. You’ll easily spend five figures. And second of all, some kinds of leaky basements can never be made reliably dry. Different contractors will offer different guarantees, but the most important thing you can do is ask for at least three references and follow up with previous homeowners. It’s essential you only choose a contractor that has successfully helped people like you before. Don’t omit this step.

TECH TIP: Beware Furnace Drain Lines

This water leak alarm can prevent thousands of dollars of damage. Gas furnace drain lines are one place where you should have an alarm set up

Today’s most efficient natural gas and propane furnaces and boilers extract so much heat from outgoing exhaust gases that the moisture within those gases condenses inside the furnace or boiler as liquid water. It’s supposed to, and this is why they’re called “condensing” heating appliances. They all have some kind of pipe that lets this condensed water drain away. Sounds good, but there are two dangers as far as your basement goes. First, the amount of liquid water created by a condensing furnace or boiler amounts to a lot of water – 5 or 6 gallons per day when the weather is cold in northern areas. This is more than enough water to cause damage to your finished basement if it doesn’t make it to the drain. Condensed water like this is also highly acidic and this can lead to problems. It will eat metal pipes quickly and I’ve even seen deterioration and breakage of the plastic pipes that are used to direct condensate water into drains. The acid is created when the condensed water interacts with the carbon dioxide given off by the burning natural gas or propane. The possibility of a broken condensate pipe and lots of leaked water is why you should pay special attention to how condensate water is drained from your furnace.

Locating a furnace as close as possible to the floor drain is worth considering if you can. Also, regularly inspect the condensate drain line for cracks and breakage. Even if condensed water leaks from a broken pipe for just a couple of days, it can lead to big problems. All of this is why it makes so much sense to install a water leak alarm near the condensate drain line of your furnace. These inexpensive electronic devices detect the tiniest amount of water on the floor, sounding an alarm so you can take immediate action. It’s very cheap insurance for the hidden threat of water leaking from your furnace. [/insert_item]

Every so often in life there are simple things that really make a difference, and something called vertical drainage membrane is one of those things – at least as far as solving basement leaks caused by rainwater or snow melt goes. Originally invented by a German company called Cosella-Dörken, and now offered by a handful of different manufacturers, this dimpled, plastic sheet material goes against the outside face of foundation walls, creating thin, vertical drainage pathways for water to trickle down without interference from soil. Without pressure from the soil against the foundation wall, vertically draining water isn’t driven through the masonry with the same vigour and soil pressure. Thats why it’s much more likely to move downwards, not sideways into your basement. That’s the good news. The bad news is that you’ll need to excavate the soil away from the foundation wall to install drainage membrane. It also needs to connect to perforated horizontal pipes (called drainage tile) around the perimeter of the footing in order to work. After all, the water needs some place to go after it drains downwards. Despite the installation hassles, drainage membrane does perform admirably. Any major basement waterproofing job should include some.


Study the illustration right here for an overview of the different best-practice methods used to waterproof a basement. If you click on the image you’ll get a larger version suitable for printing.

Study the illustration and watch the video below for a more detailed explanation of the basement waterproofing strategies.. You’ll definitely want to understand all about basement waterproofing before contacting any waterproofing contractor. You won’t necessarily need all these features shown here in the illustration to make your basement dry, but you definitely need to understand what’s going on before you talk to someone about making your basement dry. The best way to protect yourself from incompetent or dishonest contractors is to educate yourself so the wool can never be pulled over your eyes.

Also, some municipalities offer a rebate on the cost of installing a sump pump and backwater value. Check this out with your local municipal office before hiring someone to do the work. It could save you thousands of dollars.

VIDEO: How Basement Waterproofing Works


Wet Basement Bottom Line

It’s rare that a basement with big and regular water leaks is made dry without some serious work by professionals. This might not be necessary, but you should prepare yourself for it. If your basement is wet, you’ll want to pay close attention to the illustration and video in this lesson. It outlines the basics so you understand the situation and fixes as you consult professionals. Print out the illustration and have them mark it up with a pencil to show what they propose. Basement waterproofing isn’t rocket science. Any normal person can understand the concepts behind whatever option is being proposed. If you don’t understand what a contractor is proposing, don’t proceed until you do. If the contractor can’t make it clear to you what the propose fix is, then find someone else.