7 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Waterproofing your Basement


If you have lived in a home with a basement, or know anyone that has, you’ve most likely heard someone tell a dreadful tale of going down into their basement only to find it flooded and everything on the floor in the basement being ruined. As homeowners, who have never experienced a water leak or flooding before, they couldn’t for the life of them figure out what happened or why the basement flooded.

Knowing how to care for your basement’s foundation, and when to contact a basement waterproofing professional, is crucial. Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover ground water getting into your home, so if you find yourself in this situation, it can be frustrating and costly.

Chances are, if you have a basement you will have to deal with a moisture problem at some point. Over 60 percent of basements have a problem with moisture, and most new homes develop a basement leak within 10 to 15 years after construction (according to the American Society of Home Inspectors). Here is a list of things to avoid when waterproofing your basement:

1) Using Waterproofing Paints and sealers

Many homeowners make the mistake of purchasing a product they do not fully understand. If you are a new homeowner and buy a product to use on your home, it is important to look at the limitations of the product before use. You would think a paint, or sealer, made for basement waterproofing would be sufficient in waterproofing your basement, however that is not the case and can cause even bigger issues to your foundation down the road.

An example of this would be, if you have a foundation crack (in a poured concrete foundation wall) and you paint or seal over it, you are just putting a band-aid on a much bigger issue. While it might work temporarily, the water in that crack is still sitting in the crack. The water will eventually push through the thin layer of paint used, causing the paint to bubble and flake off, as well as allow lime to build up around the crack.

Using a product like this on a foundation crack, may cause an even bigger issue and make it difficult for a waterproofing company to fix it. It can also make the job of fixing the crack more costly. In this situation, Schmitt Waterproofing, would recommend doing a polyurethane crack injection. A polyurethane crack injection will seal the foundation crack all the way through the wall along with any gaps in the soil behind it.

2) Doing outside Drainage to stop a basement leak

Keeping water away from your home is very important. By not allowing water close to your home, you won’t need to worry about pressure building up on your home’s foundation. Once water has found its way into your basement, adding drainage alone, will not stop the problem from returning.

Think of your foundation like a coffee mug, if your coffee mug had a crack in the side of it your coffee would continue to seep out. Just like that mug, cracks and other flaws in your basement foundation wall, will continue to let water in until the issue is fixed. Contacting a waterproofing expert will help you identify the proper solution to address the flaw and keep water from entering your home.

3) Sealing the cove joint in the basement

The cove joint, or floor wall joint, is a small gap between the concrete floor and the foundation wall. Sometimes hydrostatic pressure, which is when pressure builds up on your foundation walls due to water pushing against the foundation. This pressure can build around your home and start a foundation leak. Some people make the costly mistake of sealing the cove joint with hydraulic cement, or caulking. The cove joint allows the wall to expand and contract during the changing of seasons from hot to cold. Sealing it can cause structural problems over time and water will eventually find its way back in your basement, leaving you with the same basement leak issue.

4) Installing a French Drain

Most homes are built with a foundation drain, which sits at the bottom of the foundation wall to drain water away from your basement. Some contractors will try to sell you a French drain that they will place at the top of the foundation wall, which will collect the water along the wall when those drains start to fail. However, placing a french drain at the top of the foundation wall will not solve the issue. When water pushes into a basement starting at the base of the wall, this causes hydrostatic pressure to push the water up from below the slab. So putting a drain at the top of the foundation wall only adds to the problem instead of fixing it.

If you are experiencing water seepage in your basement, at the bottom of your foundation wall where the wall meets the floor, most likely your foundation drain is failing. At Schmitt Waterproofing, we recommend you call an expert like us to come out and take a look at your issue. In this case, you may need to have a sub-floor drainage system installed to stop water from entering your basement. A sub-floor drainage system is installed on the inside of your basement. This system is a faster and more cost-effective solution than digging up your foundation’s wall on the outside. Your home does have an original exterior foundation drainage system that was placed before the walls were buried, porches built, driveway poured, and utilities connected. To replace the entire foundation drainage system from the outside, all of those items would need to be removed to expose the entire foundation wall, so that a waterproofing company could replace the exterior basement waterproofing system.

5) Deciding to do it yourself without consulting a waterproofing expert

With YouTube, Google and the neighbor who knows how to fix everything, many homeowners make the mistake of trying to tackle repairs themselves. Most of the time, trying to do it yourself, can cause more damage to the foundation and potentially cause a more expensive repair to have to be performed down the road. It is always best to call in an expert, like Schmitt Waterproofing, to diagnose the issue. We can help you come up with a plan that will work to solve your problem before trying to do it yourself. It is important to hire someone who has experience and specializes in basement leaks, basement cracks and crawl spaces.

6) Not finding the source of the leak

In a finished basement, the task of trying to find the source of a water leak can be daunting. However, you are the best detective when it comes to finding the source of the water because only you can be there during a heavy rain to track down where the water is coming from. Water can enter your basement in several ways, and knowing how and where to find it is important. Many waterproofing companies can offer you a solution that may fix the problem, but if the basement leak isn’t properly identified, you may end up spending more money than you intended to get the job redone. If you have a finished basement, removing a small section of sheetrock on the foundation wall, in the area where water is coming in, will help you determine if you have a foundation crack.

7) Waiting too long before waterproofing

In Georgia, we tend to get a few big storms a year with hurricane season and in the spring. While you may not get that much water in your basement, waiting too long could be a mistake you want to avoid when it comes to basement leaks. You can’t always plan when it is going to rain, if you are going to lose power, or if you are going to be out of town. You may not be there to clean up a big water leak, or you may forget about the leaking, and then go down to your basement to find an even bigger mess. Basement leaks only get worse over time, so what seems like a little now might turn into a bigger leak during a really bad storm. Wet basements are a breeding ground for mold and bacteria, which can be harmful to your family and pets. Waiting too long to get your water issue taken care of, can cause you to incur more expensive repairs later on down the road if you have to deal with mold removal on top of the water problem.

Don’t wait to find the right solution to your foundation problems. Call Schmitt Waterproofing today at 404-268-1040 or fill out an online form to set up a free estimate to see how we can help solve your basement water issues. It is never too early to address water entering your basement. We have trained our team to find the right solution for foundation repairs at a reasonable price.

Schedule Your Estimate Today with Schmitt Waterproofing !

Free Estimate