So where does water come from?
"Well Adam, when two hydrogen atoms and an oxygen atom really love each other...."
At its simplest, it’s either coming from inside or outside. If water is coming from outside (the usual culprit), I recommend reading on for some tips and tricks on exterior basement waterproofing.
If it’s coming from inside, I recommend calling a good plumber. Perhaps the Mario Bros are available? Or are they out of the plumbing game now that they have princesses to save and go-karts to race?
Exterior Basement Waterproofing: Gutters/Downspouts -
Gutters and downspouts are an essential component to your overall basement waterproofing plan.
Make sure gutters are clean: The frequency you need to clean them varies directly with the maturity of foliage around your house.
At our starter home, we had two, 100+ year old maple trees towering directly over our house. I would need to get up there at least twice a year to perform a HEAVY cleaning.
By comparison, our current home is in a newer subdivision. No tree on the block even approaches our roof line. Regardless, get up there at least once a year to give them a quick clean out ensuring all gunk is clear including loose asphalt sediment that erodes from your shingles.
If you have a power washer, bust it out and make quick work of it, otherwise a ladder and garden shovel should do the trick. Always remember proper safety techniques on ladders. A good reference can be found here
Make sure gutters are properly pitched: If your gutters are clogged or pitched improperly, water will accumulate or flow away from down spouts causing it to fall over the edges instead of where you want it to go.
If it’s falling over the edge of your gutters, you might as well not even have gutters. Water will continue to fall at the base of your house, near your foundation, which is exactly where the gutters are trying to divert it away from. This water will eventually find its way into your basement instead of the sewer.
If you suspect your gutters are improperly pitched or inadequately sized for your roof, head out during your next heavy rain and take note of your gutters performance.
Alternatively, get up there with your garden hose and spray away; if there is substantial accumulation with a hose, it’s likely not keeping up with moderate rain either.
Down spouts & Down spout extensions: Now that your gutters are performing well, don't get sloppy on the down spouts. There is not much to down spouts, but every down spout should have an extension.
I've seen them done many ways. Pieces of extra down spout, flexible tubing (usually comes in brown or green), or automatic versions which rollout during rain and retract otherwise are most common.
Personally I use the flexible tubing version for my home, but the key is to make sure its dispensing water 4-6 feet from the house and away from your foundation.
The pitch of everything surrounding your house is another key component to successful exterior basement waterproofing.
Dirt/Mulch/Grass: Seems simple enough, and it is. People just don’t think to look at it or fix it. The trick here is to just make sure the grading around your foundation is tapered away from your house.
As you add new mulch annually make sure you add more towards your house and less away from it creating a gently slope to carry away water. It doesn't need to be dramatic, just enough to let the water flow naturally.
Concrete/Asphalt: Over time, concrete and asphalt will tend to settle and usually in the wrong direction. This creates a pitch towards your foundation.
There are options (some more expensive than others) to fix this. Asphalt is usually easier to repair compared to concrete. If concrete is an issue, you may want to explore mud-jacking. I have no first hand experience with that process, but it’s one way to avoid completely replacing sunken concrete.
Hope these exterior basement waterproofing tips helped you on your way to a drier basement.
Questions? Have you had mudjacking done before? Let me know how it worked in the comments section below!