Finishing your basement? Not so fast. Here are 8 steps you should take to waterproof your basement before you do any finishing work.
#1 Install An Effective Drainage System
If your basement were to flood after you've put all that time and money into finishing it, you'll end up with damaged insulation, drywall, and other finishing products that are a hassle to replace. Repairing a flooded finished basement is outright expensive. It's much cheaper to install a drainage system before finishing.
#2 Install A Complete Sump Pump System
A sump pump system is another must-have before finishing your basement as this is the only way you'll be able to effectively remove large volumes of water from your house if heavy rains or a plumbing failure were to cause water accumulation in the basement. Good sump pumps are ready for power outages, failures, and more so that your basement is always water ready.
#3 Guard Against Frozen Discharge Lines
Generally, a sump pump system will take water outside and away from your home, preferably sending it down a hill so it doesn't pool at your home's foundation. However, a common cause of sump pump failure is a frozen or clogged line, which prevents water from being pumped out of the basement and, thereby, pushes it back inside. To prevent this, your drainage system should have an open discharge line extension to give water a secondary way out.
#4 Seal The Basement Walls
With the concrete walls of a basement being so porous, they're like sponges for allowing moisture to come in from the outside earth. This moisture then comes into your basement as water vapor, getting behind walls and leading to mold and mildew. The right vapor barrier will prevent this problem.
#5 Install A Warm, Dry Floor
Just like water can get through basement walls, it can also come up through a concrete floor. That's why you should install a vapor barrier underneath any flooring you intend to put down.
#6 Upgrade Those Basement Windows
While basement windows are critical to light and beauty inside a finished basement, they need to have a proper window well to ensure they aren't the source of leaks or moisture. Have a contractor come check out your existing windows and make recommendations before you finish out the rest of your basement.
#7 Install A Ducted Dehumidifier System
If you fail to keep your basement dry, you'll end up with an uncomfortable and mildew-ridden space that no one wants to be in. With a proper dehumidifier system, your basement will be kept dry with low humidity and even lower heating/cooling costs. The right system will run without you even knowing it as they're self-draining and silent.
#8 Perform Basic Exterior Maintenance
The typical home will experience 500 gallons of water on its roof from a 1" rainfall. That adds up fast and if your home isn't properly designed for this volume of water, a lot of it can pool around your basement. By extending your downspouts and keeping gutters clean, you'll help protect your basement (and the rest of your house) from moisture and water damage.
Not sure where to start? Talk to a licensed contractor or home inspector for guidance.
The Author Adam Clark is the owner and operator of Shield Guard Home Inspections. Adam Clark is a local Home Inspector located in Albany NY that has performed over 6000 Inspections
Phone: (518) 720-7152