How to Solve Basement Water Infiltration

  • Gutter
  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Paul in Massachusetts is on the line with a question about basement water infiltration. What’s happening at your money pit?

    PAUL: I have a question on waterproofing a basement floor. I have a very, very old house. It’s over 100 years old. I have a fieldstone foundation and I waterproofed that with a product called DRYLOK.

    TOM: Yep.

    PAUL: But I was wondering what – how do – what would I do for my floor?

    TOM: OK. So, why are you concerned about waterproofing? Are you getting basement water infiltration into that space, Paul?

    PAUL: Yes, I was, in one area.

    TOM: OK. So, waterproofing is not the solution; it’s not the fix for water coming through the walls or through the floor.

    PAUL: OK.

    TOM: You can put all that stuff on you want and it might slow it down but it’s not going to fix it. You need to fix it and the fix for basement water infiltration is outside your house, especially if that water comes in consistent with heavy rain or a snow melt. You know, whenever it’s consistent with precipitation like that, it comes down to two things: the grading, angle of the soil around the house. If it’s flat, if it’s pitched back towards the house, it collects a lot of water at that foundation perimeter.

    But even more important than that is the gutter system. If you don’t have a gutter system or your gutter system is undersized or clogged or the downspouts are dumping – as most are, frankly – right near the foundation perimeter, right near the foundation corners, you need to extend those out 4 to 6 feet. If you manage the water carefully around the outside of the house like that, you are much, much, much more likely to not have any issues with water infiltration.

    PAUL: Even if you live on a hill?

    TOM: Yep, especially if you live on a hill.

    PAUL: OK.

    TOM: It doesn’t matter. With hillsides, sometimes the water is worse because it comes right at the house. And in that case, you need to have what’s called a “swale,” which is where the grade kind of splits to divide the water around it.

    But generally, if you keep the water away from that first 4- to 6- to 8-foot perimeter of your house, try to keep that immediate perimeter as dry as possible, you’re not going to get basement water infiltration.

    PAUL: OK. Alright. And don’t even worry about the floor.

    TOM: Yeah, don’t worry about the floor. That’s the very last thing you do. You deal with those big things outside with the grading and the drainage first.

    PAUL: Very good.

    TOM: And then the floor may never be an issue again. Alright, Paul?

    PAUL: Well, thank you very much.

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