What Is Basement Waterproofing?

You are here because you want to find out what basement waterproofing is. In a nutshell basement waterproofing is the art and science of keeping water off the basement floor. Actually that is how the warrantees on basement waterproofing reads. Waterproofing companies will come back usually if there is water on the floor after they fixed a job. Sometimes it can because by an error in their repair work and other times because there is a built-in defect in the wall the way it was built at the onset. Sometimes it is impossible to see exactly what is causing a wall to crack and leak. Rod holes are a leak is caused by a sealer put on by the builder that would dry out and shrink beyond control to the point where there is space for water to leak around it. A crack in a poured wall usually happens because the concrete wall shrinks. Other things that are hard to see would be something like a thing called honeycombing. A honeycomb is an area of concrete that was poured in to the concrete forms in such a fashion that there was not enough water in the mix and it is so dry that the individual granules of gravel and sand have spaces in between them big enough for water to pass through a solid wall. This is one defect that shows up in poured concrete walls. Block basements leak because the cinder blocks also shrink and bend because they’re not solid and open of cracks on the outside of the wall that can’t be seen from the inside and because they are hollow you water will fall to the bottom appeared to be leaking out of the bottom of the wall. When actually the water is leaking all up and down entire wall and just falling to the bottom. This is just an example of a days work that we have to do to make a basement dry. Honeycomb has to be fixed on a unusual type of work that usually requires a jackhammer and’s and not so much hydrophobic foam. There are several ways to fix cracks and Rod holes and other defects. Another type of leak would be water coming up through the base where the wall and the floor meet. This is a common leaking area also and both concrete and cement block basements. This can because by the drain tiles around the outside of the house becoming plugged up with sand and tree roots and in conjunction with the fact that the drain tiles are not even connected to each other and in older homes are actually open by an inch allowing solid dirt to enter. This is what I mean by art. You have to do this awful lot at times for you can become fluent in the language of water speaking to you and telling you where it wants to go and where it came from.

Rod Hole Repairs

This is one of our more popular forms of basement leak repair. This form of concrete foundation repair is usually done in Poured Concrete basements. People like to try to fix these themselves. I think because they are easy to see. These things can leak like crazy, actually worse than some cracks. Most people try to use hydraulic cement to fix these. But I think I mentioned in other pages that the bad thing about hydraulic cement is the word cement. Cement shrinks and the thicker the cement the more it shrinks. Hydraulic cement is actually pure cement base but no sand in it or no gravel. That makes it richer in cement than the surrounding wall. And that’s what makes the problem. Cement shrinks and that’s a fact. The richer the cement the more it shrinks. So if the concrete wall is made out of mixture of cement and gravel and sand but only about 10% cement then is not going to shrink so much. But hydraulic cement shrinks a lot because it is basically 100% cement. That Is a lot like opening a bag of cement and mixing it with water and sticking it somewhere hoping it’ll stop the water. I suppose anything would stop the water in a rod hole but the problem with hydraulic cement is that it starts shrinking and shrinking. That’s what they put in was Rod holes when they build the basement. They put in. Hydraulic cement. All of the rod holes are fixed like that in the beginning. So what do you think is going to happen when you’re repair that is made out of hydraulic cement starts shrinking a couple years down the road and you have put in some basement walls in front of it thinking you did a really cool thing and the floor gets all wet and your carpet gets all moldy and the bottom the drywall gets moldy and the base molding gets moldy and the 2 x 4’s on the bottom get moldy and the paper on the insulation gets moldy. All from poorly fixed Rod hole repairs. So you fix a rod holes that needed fixing with hydraulic cement and the new hydraulic cement shrunk just like the old hydraulic cement shrunk.

I guess I can say that we have to charge more now because we have to drill out your old hydraulic cement with a hammer drill. It’s not a big deal, because we have the equipment, but why should we have to do that when we could’ve fixed them fixed right the first time? Go over to our rod hole repair page and take a look around there then give us a call.

Basement Wall Crack Repair

Cracked foundation waterproofing is a very popular item. In poured concrete foundations every house starts developing vertical cracks that start leaking water after the house is about six years old. This is due to the fact that concrete shrinks as its drying. And as the walls get shorter towards the ends of their length at the corners. Cracks will usually form somewhere near the middle to relieve the pressure. They usually form at the corners of windows and beam pockets, but they also can form just about anyplace they want to. Most cracks are pretty small and don’t even leak when they are new. Be aware that there is a thing called damp proofing spread along the outside of the wall before it is backfilled with dirt. This damp proofing is intended to separate the concrete from the earth. The issue is the PH difference between the concrete and the dirt. Plus it helps prevent spalling when the temperature falls below freezing. This is not a waterproofing grade substance just because it is a color black. But it actually does hold back water and that is what it is designed for to keep water away from the cement. You have to be a chemist to fully understand the meaning of that but it does provide a small amount of waterproofing for a short period of time. This stuff can stretch the small amount that a new crack in the foundation wall will make. When a crack is new it is usually only about 1/32 of an inch wide. Damp proofing can stretch that much usually. The crack in the foundation wall will usually get wider at the top since the footing down below is designed to hold it in place. The top width can be much bigger than the bottom after a while. Many times the top can be as wide as 3/16 while the bottom will be minuscule. Basement crack repair used to be accomplished by injecting very liquidly epoxy into the crack. This epoxy injection ends up to be very thin and brittle and if the crack gets a little worse the injection can crack and no longer work. Concrete wall crack repair now is usually done with something called hydrophobic foam. Hydrophobic means it has to come in contact with some water to start exploding and expanding in size. This is really good stuff because it can expand as far as 70 times its size which pushes a lot of pressure inside the crack plus it acts like a adhesive and sticks to both sides of the crack and if the crack gets a little worse the foam will stretch somewhat. We get extremely small amount of callbacks over the long haul. This stuff really works and we use it all the time. This goes in fast and it keeps the basement waterproofing cost down to a minimum on most jobs. We will come out for a minimum of only one crack so you don’t have to worry about everything being a giant size job.

Cinder Block Waterproofing

Cinder blocks is an old term from a long time ago when they used to actually take tailings from a steel mill and break it up and mix it with cement and make cinder blocks out of it. They don’t do that anymore but they do make cement blocks now with aggregate and concrete mix. That is mix in a very dry form and shove through an extrusion machine. Concrete blocks are hollow except for the parts running across the middle which are called webs. Block layers then use mortar to stack these blocks up on top of a footing and then when it’s done they call it a foundation. This is a lot less expensive than poured concrete except in the case if a builder is making a subdivision all at the same time and all the houses are close together. Then poured concrete is a better idea. As far as foundation waterproofing goes on a cinder block wall, the thing is that the joints between all the cinder blocks loosen up and crack and they cannot be fixed on the outside that’s covered with dirt. People usually waterproof the inside with waterproofing paint and that really doesn’t work. The reason it doesn’t work is because all the loose cracks are on the outside where the water is and the water enters the cracks. Since the cinder blocks are hollow all the water falls to the bottom of the foundation and goes under the foundation at that point and comes back up and through the point where the floor and the foundation wall meet. If you think of it like that, you’ll know that a layer of paint can’t help. You could put a layer of paint on this to make it look nice but that’s about all it’s going to do. The water can get inside these blocks more than a little bit, especially in the corners where the two foundation walls come together. We have seen it in these walls as high as 6 feet and removing the water from the walls when they are full, we have pulled out several hundred gallons all at once. These sort of leaks have to be fixed with a thing called a French Drain. That requires removing the concrete floor around the edge of the basement and putting in pipe drain and gravel and all that stuff. I notice often times that people wait to do this until just after they finish a basement. That’s the exact wrong time. Either way we will fix you up. Give us a call or go to our concrete block wall waterproofing page.

Foundation Repairs

Basement foundation repairs is the thing where the basement is (1) is being pushed in due to the pressure of the backfill around the basement. This usually happens because the soil gets pretty well saturated with water around the outside the building. And in this case usually the cracks in the basement are running long ways along the center of the wall or maybe several of the areas on the wall but the matter how many cracks it is their usually going long way from and to and except in the corner where it is got a another wall to lean against. In this case the footing under the wall stay still. it doesn’t pushing in or sink. I have seen people try to dig this out and pop the cinderblocks or the concrete wall back out and it does work but that doesn’t last very long. This is a tremendous amount of work to do this and then to pay for and just have it happen again in another year is pretty bad. You can see in my pictures that I like to put steel I-beams up from floor to ceiling. This stuff for from getting worse and it will hold pretty good. As a matter of fact I’ve never had one of these fail. It’s not cheap but is a lot better than having the house get condemned. The second (2) kind of foundation repair is where the footing that holds the basement wall up his sinking and I’ve seen them where they sink 6 inches to almost a foot. All that means is that the substrate under the footing isn’t strong enough to hold up the weight of the house. This is something that we don’t handle because it takes big equipment to fix it. It’s a pretty simple matter to fix it though. You have to have a front end loader. Something pretty big to dig out the corner of the house and big enough to get workmen down there. Then you have to put a huge screw in the ground about 2 foot across to and 6 foot long and this will gather up the pressure from the dirt and you can use this to jack the house back up. It takes a lot of horsepower to this. I have a friend that does this so let me know and I could go out and check your job and refer him to you.

Leaky Window And Door Bottoms

This is a subject that we do not do that many jobs. The only reason I bring it up is because it is just about the only job we do that we have to dig outside. The way windows are put in basements they are usually in a place where the basement is cut down . This makes the foundation lower and usually it is in a spot that the landscaping tends to get built up over the years. The fact that it’s lower in the dirt is, it gives it a good chance to leak in that area if it develops a problem or crack. This is usually in smaller houses where there is a landing at the back door that has a step down. This is a handy spot to build the house because the door is lower and does not require a porch outside to raise the step. Sometimes this requires cutting a hole in the driveway. But that’s necessary. And virtually all basements have the windows cut lower in order to make the house seem shorter. Both the spots arer cut out about the same amount. That is a thing that we like to do outside so we dig it out replace the dirt with gravel and seal the outside and then fix everything up to make it look nice. The fact is it’s hard to do on the inside with a usual type of arrangement because the landing is in the way or something is goofy. Another bad thing about basement windows leaking and the dirt being too high is that water can travel in an area between the house and the bricks from a long distance away. This can be several feet because there may be a brick that has a crack in it or the mortar is missing and the water can get in and travel in a channel that is between the bricks and the basement. There is not supposed to be any mortor in there for insulation reasons. This is a kind of a technical job and I don’t recommend it for homeowners with no experience.

Sump Pumps Are Important

At Oakbridge Waterproofing we think sump pumps are extremely important. If you do waterproofing you will see after a while that you have been in the business, there has to be a way to get the water away from the basement and that is a very reliable way. That way is the sump pump and sump pump basin. A sump pump can be put in as part of a larger waterproofing job where you think there is a possibility that a lot of water would have to be removed someday. Or a sump pump and basin could be put in by itself with nothing else having to be done. We have done a lot of these single type jobs also. A trend in the waterproofing business, in order to keep the customers happy by lowering the price of the job is to hook a French drain up to the underground sewer pipes. These pipes come out of the house carrying all the waste products from the house. Plus they go into the street and the street sewage is full of the neighbors nasty byproducts. The potential problem is, and this is pointed out over and over again, lot of cities don’t have the capacity during storms to hold all the sewer water and all the rainwater at one time. A lot of contractors will run a line underground without raising it up at all, they connect it straight into a pipe supposed to be used for sewage. If they do it a little bit correctly they might use a gate valve which is supposed to swing shut when the water is going the wrong direction automatically. These valves get plugged up with all kinds of stuff and if they are made out of metal they get rusty and just don’t work anymore. The only thing that can stop that in a street flood, is by raising the pipe up somewhere between the new French drain and the floor level above ground outside. These are actually underground and since water seeks its own level it can’t really get any higher than the dirt on the outside of the house. So raising the drain line coming from the waterproofing up to the ceiling of the floor above is a logical step in order to prevent sewage from backing in to the new waterproofing. The underground method is purely gravity fed and can’t go up in the air. But if a sump pump is used water from the waterproofing system can be pushed up to the floor level and sent anywhere to the inside or to the outside in the summer when is dry. If you want to put someone else’s sewage in your French drain waterproofing try hooking it up underground and that’s what you have. We always use a sump pump and basin to prevent that problem. It only seems logical.

Flood Restoration Work

Flood restoration work is not waterproofing, it’s more like construction. Me being a waterproofer is fun, however I did get my training in construction as a carpenter for many years. I am right at home and very comfortable with removing all the wrecked items in a house caused by flood water damage. Since we do a lot of waterproofing we often get a chance to fix flood damage. Also we have a way of removing drywall that no other waterproofing company can do, that doesn’t completely wreck the wall that it is leaking behind. This way you could win twice if there is not too much damage from a leak behind a wall in a finished basement for instance. We do this on a constant basis. A lot of times depending on the weather, doing drywall work in finished basements is over half our business. Since my existing customers know I do construction work we do get calls for flood restoration jobs. That is where the basement has been leaking for quite a long time. Sometimes mushrooms are growing in the carpet. The walls downstairs are black with mold. The whole thing looks pretty disastrous and actually for an untrained person to go down there and try to fix this may not be a good idea. I have a mold inspection and restoration certificate, which makes me able to actually clean up a mess like this. The best way to get rid of mold in this situation is to remove everything into a dumpster. There are ways to do this to keep people from getting sick and we can do it in those ways. We have also done kitchen fire restoration and upstairs restoration and remodeling from other things so we have a lot of experience all away around. Generally speaking insurance companies do not cover restoration work caused by basement waterproofing. They have a rule that says that this happens over a long time and you should’ve fixed it using regular home maintenance by yourself with no help from them. Which is actually not true basement waterproofing usually starts up very quickly when a plug pops out of a rod hole or a crack opens up, you can actually hear that if your downstairs in the basement. Makes a big explosion type noise. I have done 148 finish basements. I’ve heard those things happen. Including floor cracks too, the same thing. The insurance companies will pay for damage caused by a broken pipe or a messed up sump pump or a input hose to a clothes washing machine, something like that. They just won’t pay for the plumbing part of it because they figure you should did that. Even if you do have coverage, it is usually limited to about $5000. And the only thing that usually pays for is drying out a finished basement carpet and walls and cleaning up the mess and using a huge dehumidifier and some fans to dry out the entire basement plus it takes them sometimes months to get make up their mind. So they might have to tear out some mold also. It can be quite a thing arguing with these insurance companies.

Crawl Space Moisture

Crawlspaces are prone to moisture and where there is moisture there is sometimes mold and insects that eat wood. Most the time I see these the problem starts because the crawlspace level is usually lower than the level of the dirt around the house on the outside. So since water seeks its own level and if there’s a rain outside its own level on the inside of the crawlspace will be lower and it will want to catch up to the water on the outside. This is how they get 6 inches of water in a crawlspace. I did see one crawlspace that we did had a huge tree in the backyard and one got into the crawlspace it was hard to work in their cousin was some huge roots and they were sucking up all the water bowl and they cut the tree down crawlspace started acting normal and collecting water with no place to go. Crawlspaces can be pretty involved when they get like that. A draining system has to be installed. The place is to be cleaned out and dried up. Plastic has to be run on the base and all the way around the edge and a sump pump should be installed to pump the water out. That’s a lot of work to do in an area that’s not big enough to walk around in. We have done a lot crawlspaces, some take more work and others so give us a call for one experienced company to do the work for you. Go to our crawlspace moisture page here.

Mold Comments

I am happy to report that after 20 years of tearing out people’s moldy walls and floors and roofs and ceilings that I finally got certified as a mold inspector and mold restoration person. I’ve had to work pretty hard to get this. There’s quite a bit of studying involved. But in the end my experience did help quite a bit. The main thing about mold to remember is that it will not grow unless there is moisture available. It can be in the form of water coming in from the outside or water leaking from a pipe. Also mold cannot grow without something to eat. As mold is growing and produces an enzyme just like an animal that dissolves the food. It is not like a plant however that uses photosynthesis to change dirt and soil into something edible like sugar. Whatever is eating has to be organic for the mold to like it. Most mold that grows inside a house likes the house much better than the outside. On the outside they usually don’t grow very well. They don’t like cold weather they don’t like hot weather they don’t like it to sunny, they don’t like the wind probably don’t really like rain either. They just like moisture to be sitting in someplace where it’s nice and shady and between 40° and 80° temperature with the humidity above 40%. Actually 52% is perfect and they don’t really need any sitting water they can just use the humidity. Although they don’t go real fast that way. Mold spores are extremely small. Only 30 times the diameter of an oxygen atom. He cannot see Adams with the naked eye and you cannot see anything 30 times bigger than Adam with the naked eye either. As a matter of fact it takes about 100,000 spores to be enough to do a test for mold. And the other rule you should remember is that mold starts growing from spores that are lying around and are always lying around in 24 to 48 hours. You have 24 to 48 hours to stop the water and dry the place up without getting up good old contamination going. You can read more on our regular pages.

Our Testimonials

Our testimonials page is very precious to us. To us it is actually our most important page. People actually read these and hire us using this information. This page has written letters from people that I worked for over many years saying what they believe about Oakbridge waterproofing. These letters are real and on separate sheets of paper signed by the customer/owner of the house that we worked on. They are real and we have them stored here in our office. I do keep the peoples name and address confidential however because that is what I would want. I have heard of companies publishing customers name address and phone numbers, and those people getting hundreds of phone calls even if they don’t buy anything. So rest assured if you hire us, I will be confidential about your name too.

Author: Robert B McGuire