Repairing a Basement Leak
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Basements are often associated with leaks, water damage, and mold problems – and rightly so. If moisture issues have caused your basement to become a constant source of stress, consider calling in a professional. While finding and repairing a leak can be very difficult and time-consuming for the average homeowner, pros who deal with basement leaks on a continual basis should have no problem identifying the source of the problem and making sure your basement remains leak-free for years to come.
Finding the Source of the Leak
Basements leaks are usually caused by home construction problems and/or the inevitable deterioration that occurs as homes age. Before any repair strategy is implemented, the root cause of the leak must be found. Otherwise, the repair will eventually fail. The following list explains areas where leaks commonly develop:
- Improper Foundation Pouring/Installation: Concrete must be mixed and cured according to strict specifications. If guidelines are not followed exactly, the concrete may lose strength and fail over time, resulting in cracks and leaks.
- Poor Backfilling Procedure/Materials: After the foundation is poured and cured, a backfill material is added to promote drainage. If the material is packed down too tightly or is of poor quality, it will actually divert water back into the foundation.
- Concrete Seams: Points where the floor and the walls meet, as well as where walls intersect with each other, are susceptible to leaks.
- Faulty or Clogged Gutter Systems: Gutters are meant to direct water away from the home. When they become broken or clogged and can't perform their function, the pooling water will undermine all other efforts to keep the basement dry.
Basement Leak Repairs
After the source of the leak is found, the repair can be completed. Several options are available for this portion of the project, all with different costs and levels of effectiveness.
Waterproof Primers and Paints: These extremely thick paint-like substances are brushed or rolled on to the interior and/or exterior foundation wall surface. If leaking occurs only during strong rains and tends to be a minor leak caused by a porous wall, this repair solution is a perfect fit. Keep in mind, though, that primers and paints cannot seal large cracks or stop major leaking issues.
Waterproof Cement Coatings: A step up from primers and paints, this solution essentially creates a new layer of cement for foundation walls. Hydraulic cement is a commonly used material due to its water resistant properties.
Masonry Caulking: This product is used to seal large gaps and cracks in all types of masonry walls. Using it in conjunction with one of the above products greatly increases the chances of controlling a leak.
Exterior Repairs: In most cases, approaching a repair from the outside of the home is the only way to completely guarantee that water will not enter the basement. A project of this nature usually involves completely excavating the foundation backfill down to the footings, applying a waterproofing product and a waterproof backerboard to the foundation, and adding a layer of crushed rock and backfill (at the proper finish grade) for drainage. A complete check of the home's gutter system should be performed as well.
Basement Leak Repair Costs
- Sealing a small crack or leak in the basement can cost as little as $50-$100.
- Using products such as waterproof paint, cement coating, and caulking to seal the surface of the entire basement may cost as much as $500, including materials and labor.
- A complete exterior repair including excavation, waterproofing, and backfilling costs $10,000 to $30,000 depending on the size of the home.
- Fixing gutters typically costs $50 to $200 for an extensive repair. Replacing the entire gutter system can cost as much as $700-$800.
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