Flooding and leaks are things almost every homeowner with a basement has experienced. The reason wet basements are so common is because they are built partially underground.
The soil that surrounds your concrete is almost always saturated with water. When it’s that deep in the ground, moisture cannot evaporate because the heat simply doesn’t reach that far below the soil. Concrete may seem like a solid, tough material, but if you look closely, you’ll see how porous it is. Water and water vapor is capable of permeating through the concrete walls and entering your basement, which is why basements are so humid even when there are no leaks.
The location of your basement makes it difficult for it to stay dry. The only way to combat this issue would be to install a basement waterproofing system.
How Basements Get Wet
There are many different waterproofing systems you can choose from to keep your basement dry. Instead of only getting one in place, you can set up different ways to drain water and keep the humidity levels low. This is beneficial because there are a lot of different ways water can get into your basement, such as:
- Leaks and Broken Machines
A leaky pipe or a broken washing machine can cause standing water to accumulate in your basement in just a few short hours. When you notice that there’s some plumbing problem, make sure to immediately check your basement for leaks before a puddle forms. Regulatly check your washing machines and any other installation in your basement that can leak.
Condensation is the opposite of evaporation. Instead of heat creating water vapor, cool temperatures create water droplets. For condensation to take place, the air must reach a certain temperature to reach 100 percent humidity. Once that happens, the air no longer contains the water molecules and they release as droplets. You can see condensation on any surface of your basement, such as pipes, wood, and the walls.
- Basement Window
A warped basement window is an open invitation for basement flooding. Without a closed window well or some sort of cover, water can leak through the gaps in the window frame and pool up in your basement during times of heavy rainfall.
How a Waterproofing System Protects Your Basement
Without a proper waterproofing system, your Knoxville, Tennessee, basement will experience terrible cosmetic and structural consequences. Because your basement is your foundation, if you don’t take care of it, the rest of your home will begin to experience the same negative issues. Here are some of the problems that come from a lack of basement waterproofing solutions:
Mold is one of the most common problems in wet basements. It’s a microorganism that needs water to survive. It is a resilient fungus that is even able to pull moisture from the air to thrive and grow. Without professional waterproofing solutions, you won’t be able to get rid of mold growth because of its ability to imbed itself into the concrete walls. Powerful installations designed to keep the moisture levels at a minimum are the only things that can stop the mold.
Long-term mold exposure can lead to terrible health problems. Even if you don’t go into your basement often, due to the stack effect, most of the air you breathe in your house comes from your basement. The mildew in the basement rises to the upper portions of your home, where you unknowingly breathe it all in.
Wood rot is when mold infects wood and slowly eats away at it. Wood rot affects your home’s structure because it debilitates the wooden joists that hold up your floorboards. Significant wood rot causes sagging, uneven floors.
Once a wooden joist is infected with wood rot, it never gets back the strength it once had. If you’re fast enough, you might be able to clear the wood of rot and still use it with the help of some supports, but this doesn’t always happen. To avoid this problem, you need waterproofing solutions to deter mold growth.
If there’s nothing in the way, there will always be water trying to get into your basement. Waterproofing solutions like sump pumps and interior drains can’t stop water from naturally flowing toward your basement, but they can prevent water from flooding it. Basements are not naturally built to guide water flow away from them, which is why waterproofing installations are important.
Waterproofing solutions do more than just prioritize the inside of your basement. Many solutions, like sump pumps, also focus on keeping the moisture in the surrounding soil to a minimum. Proper drainage systems will ensure that the soil erosion process slows down so you don’t experience severe foundation settling.
A foundation settles when it no longer has a stable layer of soil to support it. The house begins to sink and rests against the unsteady soil layer. Because of the settling, your basement experiences structural issues that can lead to more flooding and moisture problems. Eventually, these changes will impact the rest of your home as well, not just the basement.
What Kind of Installations Do I Need for a Full Waterproofing System?
If you have frequent problems with humidity, window leaks, and standing water in your basement, you need a proper waterproofing system. Not only does a waterproofing system give you peace of mind, but it also protects your home in Mobile, Alabama, from mold and foundation damage.
At AFS, we offer our customers high-quality products they can’t find anywhere else. We make sure to cover every single waterproofing need, from the moisture on the walls to the humidity in the air. Here are some of the great products we have:
A sump pump is one of the most essential parts of any basement. Frequent storms in Alabama and Tennessee mean that water will pool in the sub-level of your home. Instead of removing all that standing water yourself, a sump pump can automatically collect the water in your basement (as well as the surrounding soil outside your foundation) and pumps it out and away from your home.
Our SafeDri™ Sump Pump Systems come in durable, cast-iron pumps. This design guarantees that the pump will not overheat like the cheaply made plastic sump pumps you find elsewhere. Our sump pump systems can pump out over 3,000 gallons (about half the volume of a large U-Haul truck) of water per hour. For your convenience, we have a no-screen design and a powerful impeller that prevents clogging, so you can spend less time worrying about maintenance and more time enjoying your dry basement.
WallSeal™ Basement Vapor Barrier is a waterproof sheet that lines up against your basement wall to prevent water vapor from infiltrating your home. Concrete is highly porous and the moisture in the soil can easily seep through. A vapor barrier is a non-intrusive way to prevent this from happening and keep the humidity levels in your basement low.
WallSeal™ is 20-mil thick and contains seven layers of durable, washable polyethylene. It’s highly flexible and capable of sticking to uneven surfaces, so no matter what the state of your basement walls are, WallSeal™ can be installed.
Interior Drain System
An interior drain is an underground pipe system that redirects surface water and groundwater away from your foundation. Traditionally, Iinterior drains go outside. However, there are many problems that can arise with an outdoor system that prevents the pipes from draining water properly. Outdoor systems clog up easily by leaves and mud, so they’re a hassle to maintain. Not to mention, outdoor drainage systems require excavation, making them expensive.
At AFS, we’ve developed a special type of interior drain system capable of going above and beyond. BasementGutter™ is an interior drain system that is installed around the perimeter of your basement. A trench is dug and the drainpipe is placed on top of gravel. The trench is covered up and your basement floor ends up looking undisrupted. The drainage system can be connected to a sump pump so it redirects the water it collects into the sump pit.
The best thing about BasementGutter™ is that it doesn’t just collect water that makes its way into your basement. Because of its unique design, it’s also able to collect water that trickles down your basement wall, providing a more complete drainage experience than other systems.
Even if there’s no standing water in sight, mold can still grow in your basement if the air is humid. To combat humidity and keep the air in your basement fresh, you need a dehumidifier. By eliminating the humidity, you can:
- Save money on energy bills
- Prevent mold growth
- Prevent wood rot
- Keep the air clean
Our AFS dehumidifier works with your sump pump to make sure all the moisture drains from your home. Our sump pump has multiple settings you can choose from so that you can control the humidity levels in your basement.
A grated drainpipe works similarly to our BasementGutter™ system. However, instead of running along the perimeter of the basement, it’s placed along the basement entrance. This drainage system is meant to catch any surface water that goes through your basement entrance. A grated drainpipe can also be connected to the sump pump for better drainage.
Many homeowners get confused when they see standing water in their basement, especially after there hasn’t been a lot of rain. If you check your pipes, your washing machine, and other sources of water but there are no leaks, it’s possible that the water is coming in from the outside.
Your basement is partially underground, meaning that it’s surrounded by soil. As much as we would like it to be, that soil that surrounds your foundation isn’t dry, meaning that your basement has to constantly combat moisture.
- Hydrostatic Pressure
Hydrostatic pressure refers to the accumulation of groundwater against your basement wall. Properties surrounded by expansive soils are the ones most likely to experience hydrostatic pressure since clay soils are excellent at retaining water. If the soil was sandy, the water would simply drain away.
The weight of the water causes your basement wall to bow inward. Eventually, when enough weight is up against the wall, cracks will begin to appear on the concrete as it weakens under the pressure of the water. These cracks make it easy for the water to simply seep through the wall and into your basement. A clear sign of hydrostatic pressure is bowing walls and water coming from where the wall and floor meet.
- Rising Water Table
The water table is an invisible line that indicates where the zone of saturation begins. The zone of saturation is the area underground where the soil is perpetually saturated with groundwater. Water tables are as deep into the ground as you may think. Sometimes, basements will be built just above the water table.
If your basement floods only during the rainiest times of the year, it’s possible that groundwater is getting in due to the rising water table. As water drains down from the topsoil to the zone of saturation, it accumulates underground until there is enough to cover your basement. If there are any cracks in your foundation, the water will get through.
Having a wet basement isn’t only problematic because of the mold and standing water, it can also be detrimental to the energy efficiency in your home. Because of the stack effect, the air in your basement can rise to the upper levels of your house and influence how hot or cold it is. Your HVAC system must combat the intruding air and work harder to keep the temperature in your home comfortable for you and your family. Overtaxing your HVAC system can make your energy bills skyrocket, a problem that could be fixed with a properly insulated, waterproof basement.
Part of making sure your basement is waterproof and stable is having a sump pump. It’s recommended that you have two sump pumps, especially if you live in a rainy place like Birmingham, Alabama. If you’re an energy-conscious homeowner, you might wonder how having two sump pumps might affect your electricity bill.
- Why Having One Sump Pump Is Not Advised
Alabama is the fourth rainiest state in the contiguous United States. Because of all the rainwater and storms the state sees on a yearly basis, homeowners typically have overactive sump pumps. It’s normal to hear your sump pump running in the background as it pumps water out of the basement and surrounding soil. Often, however, after a period of excessive rain, you’ll hear that your sump pump is louder than it should be. A quiet hum is fine, but the sound of a mini-waterfall in your own basement is a red flag.
Besides the roar of copious amounts of water being dumped into the pit, if you feel like too much water for a single pump to handle, you should get a backup. After storms, sump pumps tend to malfunction because they can’t keep up with all the water they need to pump out. This is why it is a smart idea to get a second pump—so that you don’t have to worry about basement flooding.
- How Having a Backup Pump Can Help You Save Money
Having a second sump pump will not raise your energy bill. The amount of energy the pump needs to function does not rise because the second pump is only there as a precaution if the first one malfunctions. Two and even three sump pumps are necessary if you want to protect your basement.
A double sump pump system can save you money overall. If your sump pump malfunctions and you don’t have a backup, the other waterproofing solutions and machinery in your basement might break down if a flood ensues. For example, your dehumidifier, which is only meant to take in the humidity in the air, is not capable of handling a flood. Costly repairs and expenses can be avoided if you have a backup pump.
In the age of DIY, many homeowners are looking to improvise on repair jobs to save some money. A common waterproofing solution advised on DIY blogs is the use of plastic sheets as a vapor barrier in your basement.
- The Material
You cannot use a plastic sheet as a vapor barrier because of what the material is made of. Real vapor barriers are not made of the same plastic as store-bought sheets. They are made of polyethylene, a material that is molecularly denser than normal plastic. Because of its density, a real vapor barrier is better at blocking off smaller particles like water vapor.
Plastic does not have the molecular density to block off water vapor. Although it may seem like it’s impermeable, what you aren’t seeing is the smallest of liquid molecules permeating through the plastic sheet. If you use a normal sheet of plastic as a vapor barrier, you will still experience a humid, wet basement. It is best to use a professional waterproofing company and have them provide you with a long-lasting solution.
- The Effectiveness
You have to remember that, due to its location, your basement is constantly fighting off moisture. If you’re going to choose a material to prevent moisture from entering your basement, you’ll want to make sure that it’s one that can withstand years of moisture exposure. Polyethylene is one such material, as it’s among the most durable plastics in the world and can be subjected to water exposure for decades without ever breaking apart. Not only that, but it does not harbor any mold, making it the perfect material to use as a vapor barrier for basements.
The normal plastic we use in our day-to-day lives is also capable of harboring bacteria. This can encourage mold to grow on the plastic since it eats microorganisms. With all this in mind, it is impossible to compare a competent vapor barrier like WallSeal™ to a simple plastic sheet.
Call AFS Foundation & Waterproofing Specialists for Your Basement Waterproofing Needs
If you live in Alabama (Mobile, Birmingham, Huntsville) or Tennessee (Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville), AFS has many innovative waterproofing solutions to keep your basement dry. We’ve been installing waterproofing systems since 2000 and have established a reputation for being the best foundation experts in the area.
Give us a call or fill out our online contact form so we can schedule a free inspection with one of our knowledgeable field experts. You will have a quote and complete rundown of everything you need to get rid of water in your basement.