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  • Writer's pictureJen Bedard

Waterproofing Your Basement 101

Having a wet, moldy smelling basement is more than just a sign of an old house. It can be a major warning sign! Combating mold and eventual foundation decay because there’s water in your basement is a real problem that needs to be addressed quickly and efficiently.

Unfortunately, by the time major damage is done, there’s not really much you can do aside from calling professionals to help you deal with costly damage. If you’d like to prevent that damage, though, there are some DIY waterproofing steps you can take that will make things much easier (and cheaper!) on you in the future.

Clean The Gutters

The first thing you’ll want to do when waterproofing your house is to take a look at how water is draining around it. One of the first actions you can take, without much cost, as long as you’ve got a ladder, is to clean your gutters out. Gutters are your home’s first defense against water, so it makes sense that regular maintenance of them would keep your home a little safer from water’s damaging effects.

Get out a ladder, or borrow one from a friend or family member, and make sure there are no obstructions. Using a trowel, remove dirt and other debris, starting at the downspout and working your way around the house. Make sure your downspouts are working properly, and that the water your gutters discharge is at least five feet away from the house to avoid that water seeping into the foundations.

Arranging to clean your gutters at least twice a year (or having them cleaned by professionals) will go a long way towards extending the life of your home.

Add Dirt to The Foundation of Your Home

It’s important to take a look at how water drains away from your home. Over time, gravity and natural erosion will cause the ground around your home to slope inwards, thus increasing the likelihood that water will seep into your basement. In order to fight against this, make sure that you’re adding dirt around the foundations of your home in a slope.

A good rule of thumb is to start the slope of dirt 6 inches beneath the bottom of the house (called the sill plate) and then drop the slope two inches for every foot you move away from the house. This will help water slide away from, and not into, your basement.

Waterproof With Paint And Concrete Sealer

If you’re ready to take your waterproofing to the next level, you can use concrete sealer and waterproof paint to further protect your basement from moisture. From the inside, you’ll want to remove any salt or lime deposits with muriatic acid (see your local home supply store for more detailed instructions, as muriatic acid is caustic and needs to be applied carefully) and then apply two thin coats of concrete sealer to the walls with a roller, waiting two hours between coats.

For smaller leaks, apply several thin coats of waterproof paint over the entire wall.

Home maintenance can seem overwhelming, but fortunately, there are little things you can do now that will prevent much worse damage down the line. Even if you never use your basement, remember to check it regularly, have your gutters cleaned, the dirt around your foundation sloped, and your basement walls sealed, and you may save yourself a headache (and thousands of dollars!) down the line!

Got any questions? Have you tried any of these methods? Leave them for me in the comments below.

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