Tips for taking care of basement drainage

July 28, 2015

Apart from being a great place for storage and doing laundry, it is crucial for the health of your house and family that your basement stays dry.  Here are four tips for dealing with basement drainage issues.

Tips for taking care of basement drainage

1. Find the cause

  • Before you can deal with basement dampness, you'll need to know what's causing it.
  • Determine the cause with this simple test: Dry an area on the wall or floor with a hair dryer. Fasten a square of aluminum foil over the area, sealing all four edges with duct tape. After two days, peel off the foil. If the wall behind the foil is dry, the problem is condensation from humid inside air. If the wall is wet, moisture is seeping — or possibly, leaking — in from outside.

2. Coat the walls

  • If water is seeping through your basement walls, coat them with a crystalline waterproofing material (CWM). Unlike other water-resistant products, which simply coat the surface, this powdered blend of cement and sand with a chemical catalyst penetrates into the concrete, so it won't peel off over time.
  • Follow package directions for application instructions.

3. Redo your exterior drainage

  • Your yard should slope away from the house at a rate of 15 centimetres (six inches) for every three metres (10 feet).
  • To ensure that the slope sheds water rather than absorbing it, have a layer of clay added beneath the topsoil.
  • If water runs downhill onto your house, have a swale dug around the house, about two metres (6.5 feet) away. A swale is a shallow drainage ditch with gently sloping sides that is filled with crushed stones and then covered with topsoil and grass. It catches the water before it can reach the house.

4. Beef up your interior drainage

  • If you have a high water table, have perforated drainpipes installed under the basement floor, along with a sump pump that can operate on both normal house power and a battery. Water will collect in the pipes and be discharged to the outside by the pump.
  • If you already have an old sump pump in your basement, supplement it with a battery-operated model so that you can pump water out even after a storm cuts off your electricity.
  • Add a cover to the sump pump and an alarm to alert you to flooding.
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