If you had to dry out your basement after the recent rains, you may be making plans to keep the water out for good.
Here’s how: ``The reason basements leak is almost always because water saturates the perimeter,`` said Tom Kraeutler, host of The Money Pit, a home-improvement radio program.
``And the reason water saturates the perimeter is almost always because of improper drainage.``
Drainage around a house generally depends upon two things: grading —the slope of ground — and properly functioning gutters and downspouts.
``Grading around a house should always slope down and away from the exterior wall, Kraeutler said.
``You want to look at the first four feet out from the house. And you want the level to drop off at least six inches in that four feet.``
If the ground is not properly graded, water can pool against the exterior wall, seep down to where the foundation wall meets the footing and then seep through any cracks into the basement.
If you need to regrade, you can add soil to achieve the proper slope.
``You want to use clean fill dirt, not topsoil,`` Kraeutler said.
``Clean fill packs harder, and water will run over it. You can add a layer of topsoil over the fill.``
It is also important to make sure that gutters and downspouts are clean and working properly and that the bottom of the downspout extends a few feet out from the foundation.
If the basement still floods even though the exterior appears to be properly drained, more elaborate measures may be necessary.
John Romich, the owner of Everdry Waterproofing in Rochester, N.Y., said one way to keep water out is to install an exterior drain system around the foundation.
``We dig a trench a few feet wide around the house,`` he said.
``We start the trench at 18 inches deep, and then slope it down six to 12 inches every 10 feet.``
Workers apply black mastic — basically, liquid tar — to the exposed foundation.
Then they adhere polyethylene sheeting to the mastic and lay it along the bottom of the trench and up the other side, forming a channel in the trench.
Some gravel is placed in the channel, plastic pipe with holes in it is laid on the gravel, more gravel is added on top, and the trench is backfilled.
At the low end of the system, another trench is dug to divert water away from the house.
``It’s basically like putting in an underground gutter system,`` Romich said.
The cost of such a drainage system can vary from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the size and layout of the house.
A way to keep your basement dry without excavating outside is to allow water to get inside and then to get rid of it before it does any damage.
Thomas Roman, the president of Quality 1st Basement Systems in Perth Amboy, N.J., installs a Waterguard system by cutting an 8-inch-wide trench into the basement floor along the interior perimeter of the foundation wall.
The trench’s bottom is a few inches below where the foundation wall sits on the footing.
Next, he installs a pre-formed rectangular plastic channel with weep holes in the trench at the point where the foundation wall sits on the top of the footing. ``The foundation-footing intersection is the key to the whole thing,`` he said.
``That is where leaks are most likely to occur.``
Along the back side of the channel, right along the foundation wall, is a series of spacers that keep the channel three-eighths of an inch away from the wall, allowing any water that comes through the wall above floor level to flow behind the channel and into it.
The trench and channel are then sealed with concrete to match the rest of the basement floor.
The water is routed to a sump, where a pump pushes it out of the basement. Source
The Waterguard can be installed in an average-sized home, Roman said, for about $5,000 US.