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How to Stop Basement Wall Leaks in Their Tracks

Wet basement walls affect your basement’s health and appearance, and their repair isn’t something to be taken lightly. Learn more about basement wall leaks and how to repair them with professional assistance.

leaking basement walls

Your basement can be a handy area for storage or additional living space. However, it’s not immune to troubles. Water leaks can lead to significant damage, and it’s crucial to handle these issues at the root.

DIY solutions for problems like a leaking basement wall, available at big box stores, are often inadequate. While “waterproof” paints and other popular products for sealing basement walls have become popular, it’s better to avoid them.

Here we’ll explain why basement walls leak, how you shouldn’t repair them, and why our reliable, long-lasting solutions are your best choice.

Why Your Basement Walls Are Leaking

Leaks in your basement walls can occur for a variety of reasons. Here’s what causes damp, leaky basement walls:

Failing Dampproofing and Footing Drains 

Wet basement with peeling paint and wet floor

When your house was constructed, dampproofing solutions like tar coating and footing drains were added to the exterior walls to keep water out of the basement. However, dampproofing doesn’t prevent water leaks or flooding. It just slows down the water vapor flow from the soil to your basement.

Over time, dampproofing degrades, and the footing drains can become clogged or crushed, leading to water leaks inside your basement.

The Clay Bowl Effect and Hydrostatic Pressure

hydrostatic pressure

The clay bowl effect and hydrostatic pressure are two phenomena that negatively impact basement walls.

After your home’s foundation and walls are built, backfilled soil creates a “clay bowl” and an artificial water table.

The backfilled soil, especially if it contains clay, retains water. When it expands during heavy rain or snowmelt, it pushes against the walls, causing cracks and leaks.

Porous Concrete Walls 

cracking and peeling paint on basement wall

Though concrete is sturdy, it’s also porous. It absorbs water through a network of capillary holes or tiny pores. When water collects behind the walls, it fills these pores, leading to leaks.

What NOT to Do When Waterproofing Basement Walls

Basement walls can be delicate and complicated. Here are two methods to avoid when waterproofing your walls:

Excavation and Dampproofing Reapplication

applying exterior dampproofing

While you could excavate to the footing to reapply dampproofing or install new drainage pipe, this method is expensive, time-consuming, and requires substantial restoration afterwards. Furthermore, the dampproofing coating will degrade again, and drainage pipes may clog.

Applying Interior Paints or Sealants 

Many advertised DIY products are paints or sealants applied to interior basement walls that claim to be waterproof and effective at locking out water and moisture. The problems with these sealants include: 

  • Underlying Issues: Sealants can temporarily stop cracks or leaks, but they won’t address the underlying causes.
  • Durability: Sealants are brittle and may be compromised by efflorescence or hydrostatic pressure.
  • Temporary Fix: A sealant is not a long-term solution. It needs to be constantly reapplied.
Basement vapor barrier 3D

The Right Way: Waterproofing Basement Walls with Vapor Barriers 

The best way to address leaking basement walls is by using vapor barriers, and professionally installed liners attached to basement walls. These barriers, part of a comprehensive basement waterproofing system that includes an interior drainage system, sump pumps, and dehumidifiers, are installed by Groundworks companies nationwide.

What To Expect

basement vapor barrier installation

If your inspector notices wet basement walls, leaks, or efflorescence in your basement, they may recommend the installation of our wall vapor barrier. This 12-mil thick plastic barrier is waterproof, mold-resistant, and guaranteed to stop vapor intrusion through porous concrete walls.

After the vapor barrier is installed, any seeping water will run behind the material and into the interior drainage system. Water in these drains is then pumped out of your home by a sump pump.

If your basement walls are cracking or bowing inward, foundation repair solutions like reinforcing carbon fiber straps or wall anchors may be needed. These can be installed in conjunction with the wall vapor barrier.

The biggest advantage of these repairs is their longevity. Unlike sealants, which last only months, some vapor barriers have a lifespan of up to 20 years or more.

Once our wall vapor barrier is permanently fastened to all the basement walls and other components are installed, you will have a dry basement with a full warranty.

Contact Groundworks for Permanent Basement Waterproofing Solutions 

Wet basement walls detract from your basement’s safety, value, and appearance. Store-bought paints or sealants won’t provide a long-term fix.

For a more reliable, lasting solution, trust your local Groundworks company. Our experts can correctly diagnose your basement issues and recommend the best solutions, including wall vapor barriers.

To secure your leaky basement’s health and safety, contact the Groundworks company serving your area to schedule a free inspection and estimate.

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