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Basement Leaks - Why they happen and what to do about it

 

Basement leaks are common, and with few exceptions, are to be expected at some point in the lifetime of your home. This article explains why basement leaks occur and what to do about them.

Below you will find a few examples of what basement leaks look like.

 

What Basement Leaks usually look like
Leaking Foundation Crack Leaking Concrete Block wall Mold Growing on Drywall
Leaking foundation crack Wet concrete block wall Moldy drywall

Clearly, no one enjoys having a wet basement and having to fix a leak in their basement. Fortunately, basement leak repair is often fairly inexpensive and, in most cases, can be done from the inside (which is especially important during winter months).

Why basements leak

Basement leaks are essentially the result of hydrostatic pressure in the soil being relieved by voids in the concrete walls of your foundation. This pressure that the water exerts against the building envelope is the main cause of water coming through the foundation walls or up from beneath the basement floor. When there is a cavity in the concrete wall, such as a crack, water will take the path of least resistance and flow through the opening.

In general, leaks in poured concrete foundations typically result from cracks, tie rod holes, honeycombing and other voids in the basement walls.

Water Entering Through Cracks in the Foundation Wall Miscellaneous Foundation Leaks

 

Concrete block foundation leaks occur more frequently than for poured concrete foundations. This is the result of the development of cracks in the blocks themselves or the mortar joints that bind the blocks together. This cracking occurs as the foundation settles or over time, and due to foundation fatigue from the expansion and contraction of the soil surrounding the foundation, due to changing moisture levels and temperature changes.

As a result of this cracking of the cinder block walls, when the hydrostatic pressure is high enough, water is able to penetrate these cracks thereby filling up the hollow blocks. Blocks that are full of water are responsible for seepage into your basement. The illustration below captures the travel of groundwater through a cinderblock foundation.

Leaking Block Foundation

For more examples of basement leaks click here

How basement leaks are repaired

The good news is that 99% of the time basement leaks can be fixed either from the inside or the outside. The suitability of each type of repair typically depends on the source of the problem and accessibility of the repair area. 

For poured concrete foundations; 99% of leaks coming from the walls can be repaired internally through injection. Alternatively, when injection is not possible the wall can be excavated and waterproofed on the outside.

In the case of concrete block foundations, most leaks can be repaired internally by installing an interior perimeter drain system or externally in a similar manner to poured concrete foundations.  

 

How much it costs to fix basement leaks

The usual assumption concerning foundation repairs is that they will be very expensive. This however is not necessarily the case; particularly when dealing with poured concrete foundations. Poured concrete foundations are typically much less expensive to repair thanks to the pressurized injection process. In fact, basement leak repairs for a poured concrete foundation can cost as little as $150-$450.

Basement leak repairs on concrete block foundations are more costly due to the nature of the repairs. As larger areas need to be repaired, repairs are not as quick as for poured concrete foundations and are much more labour intensive. Concrete block basement leak repairs usually cost upwards of $3000. 

To read more on the cost basement waterproofing click here

 

 

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© 2015 AquaGuard Injection & Waterproofing®. All rights reserved

Wet Basement Repair - Who to call and what's involved

 

You have a wet basement: now what?

Discovering water in your basement is certainly not a pleasant experience. At a time like this it is great to have a "Go To" person to solve the problem fast. If your basement is leaking, call us and we'll get you on the road to resolving that wet basement.

What a basement leak looks like
Typical floor staining in a leaky basement
Staining always accompanies a basement leak

 

When you need to call a plumber

Knowing why your basement is wet is crucial!

If you want to make sure that the problem in your basement gets fixed properly and that you don't spend money for nothing, or on the wrong type of repair, you must know why you are getting water in your basement. Here are a couple of links to help you figure out what exactly is going on:

  1. How to recognize basement leaks and;
  2. Sources of basement leaks.

Similar to car repairs, if you don't know what is broken you generally end up replacing parts for nothing which = money down the drain. If you can't pinpoint the problem yourself you will need to have a thorough inspection done by an experienced basement waterproofing professional.

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In general, if the source of the leak into your basement cannot be conclusively proven then you risk signing up for more waterproofing than you need; or worse, for the wrong kind of repair which won't solve the problem (this happens more often than you might imagine).

Once the cause of your wet basement has been positively identified click this hyperlink for a comprehensive list of correct repair procedures for virtually every leaky basement situation: Basement Waterproofing Methods. Once you've identified the suitable waterproofing repair solutions, you are ready to get the problem fixed.


Click for Free Action Plan

 

When to call a plumber

A wet basement doesn't always mean that your basement walls are leaking. After 1000's of leaky basement inspections we've encountered plumbing leaks which the average homeowner can find with a little bit of detective work.

Warning sign

We recommend that you do as much of your own investigation as possible to avoid an unnecessary service call that will cost you money. Also, calling in the wrong tradesperson will extend the amount of time it takes to finally get the leak fixed.

Sure signs of plumbing leaks

It is usually pretty easy to spot a plumbing leak in an unfinished basement because everything is easily visible (we recommend that you use a flashlight to help find the problem). The most obvious situation requiring a plumber is when you can see water backing up from the floor drain as this means that the sewer is backing up into your basement.

In an unfinished basement there are 2 plumbing leak dead giveaways that you can easily spot:

  • Water actively dripping from an overhead drain pipe or water line; and
  • Drain pipes, which are black in colour, with white staining on them, caused by the mineral content of the water.

Finding a plumbing leak in a finished basement may also be easy to determine. Most plumbing leaks in finished basements will have associated ceiling damage and staining. In addition, these leaks are generally to be found in the basement beneath the general location of the kitchen sink on the main level.

If any of the above signs apply to you then you need to call in a plumber.

What's involved in repairing a wet basement

A wet basement strikes fear in the heart of many homeowners because they immediately envision having to dig up their home to waterproof the foundation walls. Fear not: in almost every instance it is possible to fix a wet basement from inside the home and almost always for far less money than what it costs to excavate and waterproof the exterior foundation walls.

How a wet basement is repaired is based upon 2 factors: what the problem is and the type of foundation involved. Here are a couple of links for information on how different foundations are waterproofed:

Worried about making a mistake in choosing the "right" contractor? Click to read the article - Waterproofing Contractors - What they are and how to choose one

 

Downloadable document on questions to ask during basement waterproofing quotes

 

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© 2015 AquaGuard Injection & Waterproofing®. All rights reserved

Waterproofing vs damp proofing

 

Damp-proofing and waterproofing are two terms in the basement waterproofing industry that are often use interchangeably; however, it is important to distinguish between waterproofing and damp-proofing as they are not one and the same. They are correctly defined as follows:

Waterproofing: Treatment of the surface or structure to prevent the passage of water through the building envelope under hydrostatic pressures. Waterproofing provides a full and continuous barrier to water penetration.

Damp-proofing: Treatment of a surface or installation of a technology to resist the passage of moisture caused by differences in moisture content, vapour pressure and temperature across the basement envelope to prevent accumulation of water against the outer surfaces of the envelope (walls and floor slab).

The distinction between waterproofing and damp-proofing is very important because these treatments provide certain barriers to basement water infiltration accomplished via distinctly different methods.

 

 

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Waterproofing and Damp Proofing in detail

Foundation Waterproofing

Foundation waterproofing involves the application of a waterproof coating onto the exterior of a foundation, the purpose of which is to provide a barrier through which water cannot penetrate. The three most common waterproofing materials in current use are:

  1. Tar;
  2. Elastomeric rubber coatings; and
  3. Blue-skin®.

While tar is not as effective as the other two materials in keeping water from penetrating basement walls, it is the product which is the standard used to waterproof foundation walls in new construction applications. The following image shows a foundation wall that is waterproofed with an elastomeric rubber coating.

Waterproof Foundation Wall 
Waterproof coating on foundation wall
 An elastomeric coating is thick and hand applied, and stretches

 

Foundation Damp-proofing

Foundation damp-proofing involves the installation of a plastic wrap, or membrane / air-gap membrane, installed onto a waterproofed foundation wall. A proper membrane is configured to facilitate the flow of water, in proximity to a foundation wall, to the weeping tile. Also, the membrane provides a barrier to keep wet soils from being in constant contact with the exterior foundation wall surface. Below is an image of an installed air-gap membrane.

 Damp proof membrane on foundation
Damp proofing membrane installed on foundation
 An air-gap membrane keeps foundation walls from constant contact with wet soil

 

It is worthwhile noting that foundation coatings which are not elastic may also be considered as damp proof coatings; in fact, such sprayed-on coatings are the norm for newly constructed foundations in Ontario.

 

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© 2015 AquaGuard Injection & Waterproofing®. All rights reserved

What is the best way to waterproof a basement?

 

The most common question we are asked when consulting with clients about basement leaks is "what is the best way to waterproof the basement?" Naturally, as a client, you want to know that the service you are paying for is the right application for the job and will be a permanent repair.

When determining what the best way to waterproof a basement is, we have several factors that need to be considered. These factors include, but are not limited to:

    • The type of foundation
    • Source of the leak
    • Interior/exterior accessibility
    • Cost
    • Condition of foundation

Why the foundation type matters

In order to determine the best way to waterproof a basement we must first consider what type of foundation we are dealing with as different foundation types present different repair options.

Poured concrete foundations

For a poured concrete foundation we typically have two options when it comes to waterproofing a basement. We can either waterproof from the outside or from the inside. Exterior waterproofing involves the excavation of the suspected crack/area and repairing it by installing a rubberized membrane or coating over the leak, thus making the foundation wall impermeable to moisture. Alternatively, poured concrete foundation leaks can be done from the inside by way of pressurized injection. Injection refers to the method of injecting a waterproofing material into a void (crack, tie rod hole, etc.) and filling it throughout the wall, thus eliminating the cavity in the first place.

Some companies employ methods of sealing cracks by draining water beneath the basement floor. We do not recommend this as it increase the amount of water pressure beneath the floor as well as promote deterioration of the concrete wall. Read More

Polyurethane crack injection
Polyurethane Crack Injection 

Concrete Block Foundations

This type of foundation is comprised of courses of hollow blocks and mortar. This means that injection would not be a viable option for repair since the material would not be able to be contained in a controlled manner Read more. Therefore, we would either have to repair externally in a similar fashion to a poured concrete foundation or seek an internal alternative for repair.

To waterproof a concrete block foundation leak internally we would use a different approach. Since we cannot coat the interior of the wall as that would cause water to be trapped in the block and lead to deterioration, we would have to install an interior perimeter drain system. An interior perimeter drain system runs along the footing capturing water from the perimeter walls and redirects the it to a sump pump for evacuation. Read More

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Source of the Leak and Condition of the Foundation

The source of the leak is very important when determining the type of repair required. For instance: water entering a crack can be repaired by injection. However, water that appears through the joint between the floor and the wall presents a different problem altogether and thus would require a different method of repair.

For more information on identifying sources of basement leaks click here

If a foundation leak is ignored for extended periods of time deterioration of the concrete will occur and compromise the integrity of the foundation wall. The condition of the concrete would dictate the method of injection or if exterior waterproofing is required. If you want to prevent your foundation from deteriorating over time the only way you can protect it from the environment is to waterproof it from the outside. This will guarantee that it is no longer exposed to exterior moisture. However, for most houses it is unnecessary to waterproof the whole foundation from the exterior as basement leaks are typically confined to limited areas. Typically, exterior waterproofing of concrete block walls stops ongoing deterioration of the blocks and crack injection in poured concrete fills voids and returns the foundation to its original leak-free state.

Click here for more information on waterproofing methods

Foundation crack with sediment
 Foundation crack with sediment stains

Accessibility

Accessibility plays a very important role in determining the method of repair for a basement leak. Unfinished basements allow virtually unfettered access to repair most basement leaks from the interior with the exception of leaks behind the electrical panel.

When a basement is finished, a decision has to be made as to whether or not the wall is to be opened. Many homeowners are discouraged by the idea of disrupting areas of their finished basement to conduct foundation repairs. However, when leaks occur in a finished basement one must take into consideration the amount of damage water can do. If the drywall has gotten wet moisture will be trapped and mold could begin to form. Therefore, it is typically in one’s best interest to remove the drywall in the first place.

Mould growth on drywall
 Basement leak resulting in mold growth

 

Cost

It is also important to note that interior waterproofing repairs generally cost less than half the cost of repairing a leak externally since less labour is involved and there is immediate access to the trouble area. When dealing with cracks in particular, if you excavate a portion of the wall to expose a crack for waterproofing purposes, it is not always entirely visible depending on the thickness of the crack. This makes it difficult to determine if the crack has been properly sealed externally. Furthermore, the adherence of exterior waterproofing membranes is dependent on the temperature and how dry the concrete wall is. When a wall is excavated it usually retains a lot of moisture from the soil, this damp wall does not dry quickly even with the use of a torch. If the job is rushed and the concrete is not permitted to dry properly this can lead to failure of an expensive exterior waterproofing attempt.

Aquaguard Injection & Waterproofing® is a full service basement waterproofing company, contact us to find the right solution for repairing your leaky basement.

Worried about making a mistake in choosing the "right" contractor? Click to read the article - Waterproofing Contractors - What they are and how to choose one

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© 2015 AquaGuard Injection & Waterproofing®. All rights reserved

Cracks in cinder-block foundations

 

If you are reading this post you likely have a basement leak which you believe to be the result of one or more cracks in your cinderblock (or concrete block) foundation. While this is often the case, foundation cracks are not necessarily responsible for the water in your basement. Interestingly, a good number of wet basements are caused by a high water table which rises rapidly after heavy rains or when substantial amounts of snow melt quickly.

It cannot be stressed enough that determining the best method to employ to waterproof and repair your basement must be based on what is actually taking place at your home; understanding how your basement is getting wet, and the condition of the foundation, are of paramount importance. Read more

 

Action Plan download offer button

 

How cracks in concrete block foundations produce basement leaks

In general, one rarely observes a crack in a cinderblock foundation with water visibly coming right through it into the basement. The reason for this is that cinderblocks store water. Let's have a look at the image below:

The anatomy of a cinder-block / concrete block
concrete block circa 2014
There is alot of room to store water within a concrete block

Once ground water penetrates a cinderblock foundation wall, the hollow cavities in the blocks will fill up with water. If the water in the blocks cannot escape, the walls will seep because the cinder-blocks are porous and allow moisture to wick through them.

The effect of pooling water in cinder-block foundations 
Draining a cinder block foundation wall Water saturated concrete block wall
Pooled water draining out of a concrete block foundation Water saturated cinder-block foundation wall

Cracks in cinder block walls are generally observed in the mortar joints binding the blocks together; however, sometimes there are cracks in the blocks themselves. Minor foundation cracks are perfectly normal; what is of importance is where the cracks are - (whether in the mortar joints or the concrete blocks themselves), as well as their width and orientation.

Types of cracks in cinder block foundations

In general, cracks in block foundations can be broken down into two categories:

  • Hairline cracks; and
  • Structural cracks

Hairline cracks

Hairline foundation cracks are by far the most common cracks encountered when inspecting foundation walls.

Minor cracks in cinder-block foundations
Minor hairline cracking between cinder blocks Leaking concrete block wall with view of footing and drain pipe installation
 Typical hairline cracking in mortar joints  Water seepage through mortar joint in bottom course

The cracks in the images above are very ordinary and nothing to worry about except for the fact that the foundation is leaking.

Structural cracks

A crack is considered to be "structural" when it pertains to the integrity of the structure.

Noteworthy structural foundation cracks
Broken concrete block foundation wall with wide crack Concrete block foundation with completely deteriorated mortar joints
Block is cracked through and corner of wall is coming apart Mortar joints have disintegrated to the point of disappearing
Step cracking in foundation wall Horizontal cracking of mortar between concrete blocks
Step cracking is indicative of foundation settlement Horizontal cracking means the wall is being pushed in by soil pressure and/or frost heaving

 

Click to get in touch with AquaGuard Injection & Waterproofing button

For most homeowners the foundation cracks are minor and the only issue to contend with is the basement dampness or basement leaks. There are two methods to waterproof cinder-block foundations: one is the installation of an interior perimeter drain system (which means no digging!) and the other is customary excavation and waterproofing. Just follow the links below to learn more:

Interior basement drainage system / interior weeping tile system

Exterior concrete block waterproofing

When you have structural foundation cracks

When structural cracks are encountered, waterproofing the walls necessarily takes a back seat to foundation repair.

Note: Sometimes waterproofing part or all of a basement becomes a condition of the sale of a property. It is regrettable that in some cases, structural cracks get concealed during waterproofing activities.

The repair of structural foundation cracks is a topic of discussion in its own right. Dealing with these types of cracks requires experience and expertise which is impossible to discern by talking to a basement waterproofing company receptionist. Read more for comprehensive coverage of this topic.


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© 2015 AquaGuard Injection & Waterproofing®. All rights reserved

Why a basement leaks when the ground is frozen

 

How can a basement be leaking when the ground is frozen?

During winters in Southern Ontario, the frost line (the depth to which the ground freezes) can extend to 3.5 - 4 feet below grade; that's why many homes are insulated at the top half of the basement wall.  As the footings of the majority of foundations are typically 6.5 feet below grade, the lowermost 3 feet of soil above the footing and weeping tile never freezes; therefore, water that is present around the base of your foundation remains in liquid form throughout the year.

By far, the majority of foundations leak at or near the bottom of the wall, well below the frost line; thus, hydrostatic pressure is always present. The presence of hydrostatic pressure causes foundation cracks, tie-rod holes and snap rods, located well below the frost line, to leak because of their constant exposure to water pressure against the foundation wall.

This constant exposure of your foundation to hydrostatic pressure, even in the middle of winter, makes you vulnerable to basement leaks even when it is not raining and the snow hasn't melted.

Fortunately, any type of basement leak, with very few exceptions, can be repaired even during the coldest winter months.


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© 2015 AquaGuard Injection & Waterproofing®. All rights reserved

Which waterproofing method to choose for concrete foundation leaks

 

Should you choose epoxy or polyurethane injection over other basement waterproofing repair methods?

The following topics are covered on this page:

  1. The use of injection in basement waterproofing applications
  2. Injection in commercial waterproofing applications
  3. Epoxy crack injection
  4. Polyurethane injection
  5. Other available waterproofing repair methods:

Do any of these images look familiar?
Leaking foundation crack with staining of wall Leaking honeycombing that was patched by the builder  Leaking tie rod holes that caused rot of vapor barrier
Basement wall crack with efflorescence Honeycombing that was patched over Leaking tie-rod holes with sediment staining

The use of injection in basement waterproofing applications

Pressurized injection is used exclusively for poured concrete foundations and structures. Pressurized injection involves either epoxy or polyurethane resin and is used for the repair and waterproofing of cracks, holes, or cavities in foundation walls, from inside the home almost exclusively. It is a very common repair method for poured concrete waterproofing and is the least costly method of repairing active leaks and/or preventing potential leaks in poured concrete foundation walls. A professional injection will keep water from entering your basement, reduce basement dampness, and prevent moisture from permeating and damaging the poured concrete foundation walls.

Pressurized injection especially, is a waterproofing method that requires technicians to possess considerable skill, experience and tenacity. Waterproofing Contractors that do not offer pressurized injection services inevitably have realized that their organization does not possess the requisite expertise to provide reliable, long lasting injections, hence they purposely limit the waterproofing repair options they make available to you. If you are told that injection is a "bandaid" solution then you can be sure that the contractor that states this does not offer foundation crack injection services.

Injection is widely used in commercial waterproofing applications

Pressurized injection is commonly used for water-stopping in mines and subway tunnels, to seal joints between sections of concrete sewer pipe and in underground parking garages. Injection repairs are capable of withstanding extremely high levels of hydrostatic pressure which is certainly higher than the pressure around most residential foundations.

Epoxy crack injection

Epoxy crack injection involves filling a crack with epoxy, a two component chemical blend (epoxy and hardener) that binds or welds two walls together and sets as a hard plastic; in the concrete industry epoxy injection is considered to be a structural repair. Read more

Epoxy crack injection Closeup of low pressure epoxy crack injection
Epoxy crack injection near the top of the crack Dispensing tool injecting epoxy resin at low pressure


Polyurethane injection

Polyurethane injection is different from epoxy injection in that polyurethane resin expands with considerable force and seals cavities and cracks by completely filling the opening / void that is letting water enter into your basement. Read more

 

 Typical residential polyurethane injection applications
Crack with paste and injection packers installed Polyurethane resin expanding through a foundation wall crack Polyurethane injection of a tie rod hole
 Crack ready for injection  Polyurethane travels through walls  Tie-rod cavity injected with polyurethane

 


Note:
Each type of injection has distinct technical characteristics and limitations; consequently, one size does not fit all. Rely on our technicians to determine the type of injection most suited to your particular situation. Both methods are tried and true waterproofing techniques that will solve your problem once and for all. Read more

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Other available waterproofing repair methods:

Excavation and Waterproofing

Traditionally, waterproofing poured concrete foundations involved the external excavation of the foundation, with the application of a concrete patch over a crack, tie-rod hole, or honeycombing in the foundation to prevent water penetration. As these patches frequently detach themselves from the wall due to incorrect application, the absence of a good chemical bond, and / or the natural thermal cycling that occurs on the outside of the foundation, these patch repairs eventually fail.

Only the application of an elastomeric rubber coating, or similar waterproofing material, on the outer surface of the foundation wall will reliably waterproof a foundation wall; however, excavation and waterproofing is, by far, the most expensive way to waterproof a poured concrete foundation. Furthermore, it is inherently destructive insofar as your landscaping is concerned. Read more

Interior Perimeter Weeping Tile Installation

Another available "broad brush" waterproofing method is installation of a perimeter drain tile  or weeping tile system beneath the basement floor that captures the water that continues to leak into the basement; this method requires the use of a sump pump to mechanically pump the water to the outside. While this basement waterproofing works very well for concrete block foundations, AquaGuard Injection & Waterproofing® does not recommend this type of basement waterproofing for poured concrete foundations because water continues to enter the basement. The continuous wetting of the concrete within and around cracks and other openings will result in absorption of water and ultimately the saturation of the concrete which will weaken the concrete over time. Unlike stone, concrete is a porous material that readily absorbs water.

Preventing Cracks From Leaking Without Repairing Them

Yet another technique, specific to crack repair, involves the application of a rubber membrane over the leaking crack on the inside of the wall. The membrane prevents water from pooling on the basement floor as the water drains into the gravel under the basement floor slab; consequently, water continues to enter your basement and the concrete surrounding the crack if usually saturated.

The ongoing saturation of concrete will weaken the concrete over time; to the point of crumbling. If the amount of water channelled beneath the floor slab is great and there is significant hydrostatic pressure beneath the floor slab, water will enter the basement through floor cracks or through the seam between the floor slab and the wall. Read more

Basement Crack Repair Using Hydraulic Cement

Homeowners, new home builders and contractors seeking a quick fix, an inexpensive fix, or a low repair cost will often use hydraulic cement on the interior of the wall to stop a leak. Such surface repairs may stop leaks in the short term, but these repairs will cause water to be trapped within the wall; consequently, the concrete behind the repair becomes saturated with water, a condition which will lead to an accelerated deterioration of the surrounding concrete; furthermore, these types of repairs typically do not last.

Example of a failed crack repair using hydraulic cement
 Failed crack repair using hydraulic cement
This crack repair didn't stand the test of time and ultimately had to be injected with polyurethane

 

The alternatives to pressurized injection are quite destructive and are certainly far more expensive than pressurized injection.

Tip graphicCrack injection is a specialization that requires technicians to have considerable skill, experience and tenacity. Waterproofing contractors that do not offer pressurized injection services likely recognize that their staff do not possess the requisite expertise to provide reliable, long lasting injections; hence your available repair options are limited. This situation makes choosing a waterproofing contractor, on the basis of pricing alone or with limited repair options for you, a very risky proposition. For an injection to work 100% and endure the test of time it must be done properly; this is very much dependent on the skill and tenacity of the technician doing the work. It is likely impossible for you to establish whether the technician sent to your home has the requisite experience and training. If your first impression of a waterproofing contractor is less than ideal, go with your instincts; this will at least minimize the risk to you of having to call for warranty repairs at a later date and/or having to deal with poor customer service.

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© 2015 AquaGuard Injection & Waterproofing®. All rights reserved

DIY Basement Leak Repair | Fixing a Foundation Leak Yourself

 

Can I Fix a Basement Leak Myself?

Much like plumbing and welding, fixing basement leaks and foundation waterproofing is a specialty. While many home improvement and repair projects can be undertaken by the average person who has spent sufficient time researching tricks and techniques, repairing basement leaks and fixing cracks is not straightforward and forgiving as some Do-It-Yourself book / DIY crack injection kit vendors would have you believe.

DIY projects are naturally very attractive to homeowners hoping to save money; when it comes to DIY basement waterproofing however, much like do-it-yourself plumbing, errors are typically very frustrating, destructive and costly. Therefore, you need to know how to fix a foundation leak properly, and you need to have the right tools, if you hope to fix a wet basement yourself.

 

Action Plan download offer

 

Our basement is flooding and we've been up most of the night, is there anything we can do?

If you have a basement leak (from the walls only) that seems to be out of control, to avoid staying up all night mopping up water, you will want to try to stop the leak until it can be properly repaired (or you can call us to properly repair the leak on an urgent basis). While you may be able to stop the leak completely, you still need to have it repaired professionally; otherwise you will end up trapping water in the wall which will lead to the accelerated deterioration of your foundation walls over time.

Step one, of course, is figuring out where the water is leaking into the basement from. If your basement is finished you will have to open the drywall or remove panelling in order to see the foundation wall and the exact source of the leak. Read more

For a quick concrete block leak repair, or poured concrete foundation crack repair, you can apply hydraulic cement over the leak; it is only a temporary measure but an effective one. Hydraulic cement can be purchased at hardware stores such as The Home Depot, Rona, and Canadian Tire. Be sure to use protective gloves as the cement will become surprisingly hot as you work with it; also, the pot life is very short (2-3 minutes) so you have to work fast. Note: as this type of repair is done on the negative pressure side of the wall (the inside), it will not withstand the test of time; therefore, even if you manage to stop the leak, you still need to have this professionally repaired as soon as possible.

Note: The application of tar, rubber, or cementitious coatings on the inside surface of your exterior foundation walls is, in our opinion, a big mistake. This approach to waterproofing a basement will trap water within the foundation walls which will lead to the accelerated deterioration of your foundation walls. This type of waterproofing repair is not long lasting, and you will adversely impact a professional waterproofing contractor's ability in the future to assess the extent and type of basement waterproofing, and/or structural reinforcement, that is required.

Planning a DIY foundation crack repair? Check out this blog post first! http://goo.gl/GFwakk

Button to download 10 simple and inexpensive ways to eliminate and prevent basement leaks

 

I am planning on digging around my house and waterproofing the foundation myself

As you must excavate an exterior wall down to the footing, which is typically 6.5' below grade, to repair the leak properly; the work itself is so demanding, particularly with clay soil, that you will likely regret trying to do it on your own. Furthermore, if you don't do the waterproofing work properly, you will ultimately end up having to hire a waterproofing contractor to undo what you have done and redo it professionally.

Here are a few points to consider:

  1. Excavation carries the risk of soil cave-ins; if this occurs while you're digging, your lifespan is expected to be 45 seconds;
  2. Whenever digging is involved there is always the risk that you will cut through a hydro cable, a gas line, telephone or cable line, sprinkler system water line, etc., and
  3. You need to address the drainage, damp-proofing and waterproofing aspects of the foundation repair; do you really understand what is involved? If you spend considerable time and money waterproofing your own foundation and you are ultimately unsuccessful, you will end up paying yet more money in the end and you'll be very frustrated.

I am planning on buying a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) crack repair kit and inject my own basement cracks

While crack injection repairs are simple in principle, repairs can be quite difficult and there are numerous factors that you must take into account before deciding to spend your hard earned money on these kits.

Here are a few points to consider:

  1. There are two types of injection materials for basement crack repairs, epoxy and polyurethane. The characteristics of the crack itself dictate the injection material to use as well as the crack repair technique that will work best. In foundation crack injection, one size does not fit all.
  2. DIY injection kits are always low pressure (typically involving the use of a caulking gun); in some cases there may be insufficient pressure to ensure that the injected resin travels through the wall to the outside;
  3. The viscosity of the material that you are injecting must be appropriate for the size of the crack being repaired. If the viscosity of the injection resin is too low (resin too thin), the injected resin will drain into the soil outside and the repair will fail (for this reason the majority of foundation crack repair kits utilize polyurethane resin which solidifies rapidly);
  4. A do-it-yourself crack injection kit is not useable on an actively leaking crack; this is because the kit will require that you apply an anchoring paste over the crack which cannot adhere to a wet or damp wall surface;
  5. DIY injection kits are not suitable for repairing leaks in concrete block or cinderblock foundations because the blocks are hollow; and
  6. If there is mud or mineral in the crack, it is unlikely that your injection will succeed because the crack needs to be flushed prior to the crack injection, and you are not equipped to flush the crack through the thickness of the wall.

Note: If you have a leak originating from the top of the wall or from beneath a basement window frame, the use of hydraulic cement will entrap water along the framing and promote wood rot. See for yourself...

Patio door leak that resulted in rotten sill plate and floor joists

The sill plate is the base of the wood framing of a home and costly to fix.

 

A significant amount of knowledge, skill and equipment is required to do basement waterproofing work; if Waterproofing Contractors cannot work without these prerequisites, how can you? Ultimately, the objective of doing waterproofing work yourself is to save money; don't be fooled, you do not need to excavate around your home to properly waterproof your basement. To find out how to waterproof any foundation leak, view the List of basement waterproofing repair methods.

Be sure to read our companion blog post: Waterproofing basement walls - do it yourself

Link to the Top 20 questions to ask download offer

 

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© 2015 AquaGuard Injection & Waterproofing®. All rights reserved

Why Basement Walls Leak

 

Many people are surprised when they discover water in their basement that is the result of a basement leak. While most basement walls don't leak everyday, basement leaks are very common, regardless of the age of the home, and a fact of life in regions with a significant amount of rainfall and snow.

blockleak
 Cinderblock wall leaking in the corner

 

Assuming that the water you are seeing on your basement floor is actually the result of a leaking basement wall, groundwater has found a way to penetrate through your foundation. Very simply, there is a hole in the wall that is allowing water to get into your basement.

 

Action Plan download offer

 

Hydrostatic pressure and basement wall leaks

The water in the soil surrounding your basement constantly applies pressure onto your foundation walls. The more water present in the soil from rains and/or melting snow, the more pressure is applied to your foundation.

As a simple analogy, a soft drink can contains a fair amount of fluid, if we make an extremely tiny pin hole in the can the soft drink will leak out. Similarly, if there is a hole in a basement wall, water pressure from the soil against the foundation wall will cause water to leak out of the hole (or crack); in some cases this will only happen after unusually heavy rains, and in other cases, water will leak from the basement wall most of the time.

The most common foundation wall leaks

The holes (or gaps) in a foundation wall that are typically at the source of the leak will vary according to the type of foundation on which a home is built. Most foundations built since the 1940s are either cinder block (concrete block) or poured concrete; we will deal with leaks through these types of foundation walls exclusively.

Leaks in poured concrete basement walls

The two most common sources of basement leaks in poured concrete foundations are:

  • Cracks; and
  • Tie-rod holes.

Both of these can be inexpensively and quickly repaired by injecting them from inside the home; alternatively, the foundation can be excavated and waterproofed at the crack and tie-rod hole locations.

Follow this hyperlink for more information about injection.

describe the image IMG 20110318 00004
 Leaking tie-rod hole  Foundation crack that has been leaking

 

Leaks in cinder block foundation walls

Like poured concrete foundations, cinder block basement walls also have two very common sources of basement leaks:

  • Cracks in the mortar joints between the concrete blocks; and
  • Cracks in the blocks themselves.

Unlike poured concrete foundations, concrete block wall leaks are different because the cracks allow water to penetrate the basement walls and then, because cinder block walls are hollow, water pools within the walls and tends to seep out gradually. The way to fix leaks in block basement walls is more complicated than for poured concrete walls.

Follow this hyperlink for more information on fixing concrete block foundation leaks.

Click on this hyperlink for a comprehensive article on the most common sources of basement leaks.

describe the image 
 Leaking Concrete Block wall

 

The role that eavestroughs and grading play in causing basement leaks

Many people, even supposedly knowledgeable contractors, believe that eavestroughs and improper grading are responsible for leaky basement walls; actually, this notion is not technically correct.

When the grade (or slope) of your landscaping causes surface water to travel towards your house, or if an eavestrough is dumping water close to your foundation, what is actually happening is that the amount of water in the soil next to your foundation is increasing. This increased amount of water adds to the hydrostatic, or water, pressure against your foundation.

It is not pressure itself that causes your basement to leak; rather, the higher pressure results in basement leaks because all of this water is able to penetrate the foundation wall because there is a hole in it. Repair the holes in the foundation wall and no amount of pressure will result in a basement leak - ever.

 

Button to download 10 simple and inexpensive ways to eliminate and prevent basement leaks

 

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© 2015 AquaGuard Injection & Waterproofing®. All rights reserved

Selling a home with a leaky basement

 

For many people, selling their home is a very stressful experience. In addition to the stressors currently affecting you, several additional stressors are introduced into your life when you sell your home; according to the Holmes – Rahe Stress Scale, some of the stressors associated with moving are:

  • Taking out a mortgage; 
  • Change in financial state; 
  • Major change in living conditions; and 
  • Change in residence.

To learn more, click on the following link: Wikipedia

AquaGuard Injection & Waterproofing® is not in the stress counselling business; however, we can assist you by minimizing or eliminating some of the stress associated with the sale of your home by providing expert guidance and solid advice relating to waterproofing issues that affect both the re-sale value of your home and the length of time it takes to sell it.

 

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Basement waterproofing issues related to home sales

When you put your home on the market you will likely face several issues with respect to your basement:

  1. When you put your home on the market with a realtor you may be asked to complete a disclosure form on which you will be asked if you have any basement leaks or foundation problems that you are aware of. If you answer falsely, you are taking legal and/or financial risks. If you answer truthfully, you may frighten prospective purchasers. 
  2. Most of the time, the eventual purchaser of your home will hire a home inspector to thoroughly inspect your home as a condition of the sale; one of their checklist items is the condition of the foundation. They will look for cracks and other leaks and humidity. Note: Home inspectors are increasingly using moisture meters to measure humidity levels in the basement and/or abnormally high levels of moisture behind basement walls. 
  3. If a potential purchaser observes water or water stains in the basement, leaking or non-leaking cracks, or if they are advised of high humidity levels, they may not even bother to make an offer or waive the home inspection clause in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale, even if they love your home. It is a regrettable fact that many purchasers view foundation cracks as being symptomatic of structural failure. While this is generally not the case, a prospective purchaser puts great faith in their home inspector's opinion above that of any other person (in some cases, even the opinion of a professional waterproofing contractor). 
  4. If a home inspector's report identifies problems associated with foundation leaks and/or cracks, you may be compelled to repair all problems as a condition of the sale, or settle for a reduced price (likely inconsistent with the cost of repair) to close the deal. 
  5. If you own a home built between 1950 and the late 70's, you most likely have a concrete block or cinderblock foundation. Unfortunately, this foundation type is prone to basement leaks and deterioration over time. Consequently, a home inspection will likely reveal a high relative humidity level in the basement and moisture behind the finished basement walls. 
  6. Even if you have never personally observed water on the basement floor, it doesn't mean that your basement hasn't leaked. Our technicians consistently report that many leaks go undetected by homeowners for many years.

Within the past decade, many home purchasers and/or Realtors have increasingly hired us to conduct detailed inspections of foundations/basements when home inspectors reported finding moisture problems and/or basement dampness. Our inspections are thorough and provide realistic repair costs associated with necessary basement waterproofing. Our reports are then used by purchasers to renegotiate the purchase price of homes; in many cases, the price reductions are quite substantial.

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Why you should have a basement inspection before selling your home

As a homeseller, we recommend that you engage a qualified waterproofing contractor to conduct an independent assessment of the condition of your foundation prior to putting your home on the market; there are several advantages in doing so:

  1. You will have a report of the condition of your basement that was prepared by a Professional Waterproofing Contractor; this will provide you with a strong counterargument when a home inspector with limited knowledge of foundation issues and repair costs frightens the purchasers with wet or cracked basement concerns;
  2. You will have an opportunity to rectify simple foundation related issues before they have a chance of becoming "showstoppers" during price negotiations;
  3. With the knowledge of the actual condition of your foundation, you will be able to formulate a strategy, concerning a leaky basement, with your Realtor without being under tremendous time pressure;
  4. You will be in a position to avoid having to take your home off the market for several weeks to have it waterproofed; and
  5. By knowing the actual cost of required waterproofing repairs, you will be in a stronger negotiating position when you receive a discounted offer.

For more information, click on the following hyperlink: General Foundation Inspection.

Schedule a free quote

 

A True Story:

In the summer of 2008, AquaGuard Injection & Waterproofing® was called in by a realtor for an opinion concerning a home inspector's report that identified moisture ingress issues pertaining to a home with a concrete block foundation; there was visible evidence of water ingress in a closet. In his report, the home inspector provided an estimated repair cost of $25,000.00; consequently, the buyers asked for a $25,000.00 price reduction. This situation was extremely stressful for the homeowner, an elderly widow, in tears, naturally, who needed the highest possible selling price for her home. When AquaGuard Injection & Waterproofing® conducted an inspection using thermal imaging, we found that the moisture ingress problem was limited to the corner of the foundation. The problem was properly repaired for $2,500.00, not $25,000.00. Upon completion of our work, the home sold the following week for fair market value.

AquaGuard Injection & Waterproofing® is involved in many real estate transactions either before the listing, after the home inspection, or after the new homeowner moves in only to find water ingress problems that were not identified by their home inspector when they had the property inspected.

We realize that most homeowners do not want to spend money on a home that they are selling, as these expenditures are considered to be a net loss. Unfortunately, with today's technology, it is increasingly unlikely that a leaking basement will go undetected during a home inspection.

The need to prepare for the sale of your home is so important that several leading organizations have published advice on this subject specifically. Click on the links below to read more:

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation article - Getting your house ready to sell
Amerispec of Canada article - Ask the Inspector Article - The potential purchasers of my home are having a home inspection performed. What do I need to do to prepare my house for the inspection?

 


 

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© 2015 AquaGuard Injection & Waterproofing®. All rights reserved

 

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