Fix a Leaking Foundation in the Basement
LESLIE: Diana in Utah’s got a leaky foundation in the basement. What’s going on? Tell us about the problem.
DIANA: This is a home that was built in 1975 and I bought it about three years ago. And one night I went downstairs. I’d be remodeling and I went downstairs one night and some boxes that I had put in this one specific room had wet all over the bottom of it. So I started to investigate and tore the drywall back. The previous owners had known that it had leaked, so they built a wall out about a foot and you could see where they had cut the drywall from the previous people and taken it away from the wall.
Well, the problem is that it’s got honeycomb, I guess you call it, where the concrete on the foundation was not vibrated all the way down. And it doesn’t leak real bad but when it does leak it just, you know, comes in the bottom of that honeycomb area. And so I’ve torn the drywall out all over the whole basement on the one side and there’s just patches of this honeycomb where the rock shows through that they didn’t vibrate it all the way down and I’ve had several bids but I get different answers from different people. Some way put drylock on it from Lowe’s. Some gave me a $10,000 estimate on digging the outside and then coating the inside. So I’m really lost. I don’t know which way to turn.
TOM: Well, the first thing we want to do is stop the basement from leaking, correct?
TOM: Alright. The reason that basements typically leak is because of two things. First of all, the grading at the outside is usually too flat or the water is sloping in to the foundation or there’s some element of landscaping that’s causing water to be trapped there.
LESLIE: To run right there.
TOM: Like any type of – like a railroad tie or a sidewalk that’s block in an area and water just stays right there. The second …
DIANA: And I did change that.
DIANA: The downspout was right there so I put a long pipe on it and pulled it away from the house.
TOM: And is it still leaking even though you’ve extended all the downspouts?
DIANA: No, I haven’t seen any water.
TOM: Yeah. Well, and that’s probably the solution. So in terms of digging up the outside and sealing and all of that, that’s mostly unnecessary. I would recommend that you paint the inside of the foundation walls because that stops the normal soil dampness from evaporating into the basement.
DIANA: Oh, great.
TOM: But if you extended the downspouts and you’ve regraded, you’ve solved your wet basement problem, so that’s done. Now, the only thing that’s left is a cosmetic question and with respect to that, if you’re going to put more drywall up, the idea of framing it out away from the walls is a good one. It’s good to have an air barrier there. But the other thing that you should know is that there are types of drywall that are not organic. There’s one by Georgia-Pacific called Dens Armor which has a fiberglass face to it and so it’s not going to grow any mold. In the basement area I would use that product.
LESLIE: It’s made specifically for moist environments like your basement, your bathroom or your kitchen so it really does make a lot of sense.
DIANA: Oh, great. Well now, you know when it leaks it doesn’t leak very often but it comes right through that honeycomb. So when you say paint, do you want me to use that drylock downstairs or what kind of paint?
TOM: Yeah, any type of a basement foundation wall paint. Behr makes a good one too that we actually did some testing on and we’re pretty happy with.
DIANA: And what’s the name of that one? Behr. B-e-h-r. That you can get at The Home Depot.
DIANA: OK, great.
DIANA: Well, thank you so very much. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer that question.
TOM: You’re welcome, Diana. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.