Friday, August 5, 2011

Properly waterproofing your house foundation

Waterproofing one the most important parts of your foundation and one of the most neglected by contractors.
It’s neglected because they either don’t know any better, or they do not want to spend the money to do it right.
Waterproofing is in the building code and it requires an inspection from the local municipality, but that doesn’t mean that it is done the proper way.
First things first, I’ll explain how you go about creating a watertight basement or crawlspace and the products available.
Once the foundation has been erected you need to waterproof the walls.
1.Tar.
Now most contractors these days still use the old method of tarring foundations. Now this works but tar dries out over time and will eventually start to leak in a wet area. Lately the trend is to install dimple board over this because they think this will help. The only thing that this does is protect the tar on the wall. Tar will dry out in less than 20 years, depending on how wet the area is and what type of backfill is used around the house the tar could fail almost immediately. Tar is considered in most circles to be a “damproofing” product, not a “waterproofing” product.
2. Dimple board
Dimple board alone should never be used as a waterproofing. But people are installing this on their foundation because big box stores tell them too.  Dimple board is a plastic sheet with raised bumps on it, it is designed to protect the waterproofing behind it and allow any sediment that works its way behind the dimple board to pass down to the footing and back into the soil below. This product should NEVER be used on its own regardless of what the company tells you. What you will be told is that once you tape the joints the dimple board is waterproof. Now you are relying on a thin tape that is buried 8 ft in the ground to protect your basement.
3. Rolled on waterproofing
Rolled on waterproofing is a superior product too tar and dimple board. But it is labour intensive and it is only as good as the people installing it. Rolled on waterproofing is a waterproof membrane that comes in rolls about 3 ft in size by about 50 ft. It has an adhesive that bonds to the foundation wall that is already applied to it in the factory. All you have to do is peel the protective layer off the back to reveal the adhesive. The membrane should be installed top to bottom, with the membrane covering the footing at the bottom. Since it is only 3 ft wide you need to overlap every piece 3 inches. This gives you a very water tight wall. If you’re applying this to concrete or block walls you may need to use an additional adhesive to get it to stick depending on the weather and temperature.
Some people stop there, but you end up with the same problem as when you install tar, if a rock rolls against the membrane during backfill you could end up with a penetration and that will lead to a leak. So you should install dimple board over top of this membrane, this will give you a protection so that the membrane is never penetrated.
4. Sprayed on membrane
This application is the most superior product that you can find for residential construction. It is a rubberized membrane that is installed over the foundation walls. It is sprayed on usually by a professional waterproofing company. This membrane usually comes with a limited life time warranty. Because it’s made from mostly rubber it’s flexible and extremely durable. Most professionals will then install dimple board over this to protect it from rocks and tree roots. To put this in perceptive it’s like installing a pool liner to the outside of your house. This is the most superior waterproofing product but also comes with highest price tags.
Now that you have the waterproofing on the exterior foundation walls you should install drainage around the outside of the foundation. This is covered in the building code and once you are done requires an inspection from the building inspector. You lay a 4 inch drainage pipe around the foundation. The pipe most be perforated to allow water in and must have a filter cloth around it to keep sediment out. The pipe is installed at the footing level around the whole foundation. If you have an attached garage the pipe most pass through the footing or concrete wall along the house wall between the house and the garage. The pipe will continue around the foundation until it reaches the sump pail, the sump pail is installed in the basement of the house. All water will travel around the foundation to this sump pail, the sump pail most have a sump pump installed in it to remove the water from the pail and deposit outside away from the foundation.
Over top of the pipe you most install 6 inches of clear stone, usually ¾ crushed stone. It most cover the drainage pipe and be slumped against the foundation wall. This will allow all water sitting against the exterior of the foundation wall to migrate to the drainage pipe.
Remember the basic rule when doing all of this; water will flow to the area of least resistance. So if you give the water a place to go it will follow that path.
You most backfill the house with clean fill, usually sand or gravel, do not backfill with clay or large stones. This could cause major problems in the future.
On the inside of the foundation before you pour the concrete basement floor you should install 5 to 6 inches of crushed stone and a couple drainage pipes that run to the sump pail to take any water that makes its way under the foundation. Then install a vapour barrier of plastic on top of the crushed stone. Caulk all joints with acoustical caulking; this will help direct all water to the sump pail. Then you can pour your concrete floor over top of it.
A couple more things to help you with your waterproofing. Controlling the water before it gets to the house or when it arrives at the house will help the waterproofing and the humidity in your basement.
Here are some helpful hints:
-          Install a French drain at the level of your weepers. A French drain can be as simple as crushed stone installed with a filter cloth, or it can be a pipe that is connected to the foundation drain that allows the water to flow naturally away from the foundation without the use of a pump. This only works if you have enough slope away from the house to allow the water to run.
-          Proper grading around the house. If you properly grade around the house so that there is sloping earth away from the house this will allow surface water to naturally drain away from the building.
-          Have your gutters clean and working properly. Also have the gutter exhausts drain away from the house, the farther away the better.
-          Your landscaping can do a lot to help handle the water around the house. Having trees planted to close to the house can cause leaks in the future when the tree roots start to come in contact with the foundation walls and the drainage tile. Also planting a lot of plants and scrubs next to the house will help control water flow and help absorb water before it ever gets into the ground around the house.
-          If living in a high ground water area, where during certain times of the year you have unusually high water runoff then you should install a second sump pump in the sump pail. This will give you insurance if the water overwhelms the first pump or if the pump fails.   
-          When digging the foundation keep an eye on how much water runs into the hole, this will tell you how much water will naturally be around the foundation walls. If there is a lot you should keep the house as high up as you can. If this means only going into the ground a couple of feet then so be it. Remember you can always grade up to the house.
-          Make sure all window wells have a drainage pipe that runs down and connects to the drainage pipe at the footing. Then install 6 to 8 inches of crushed stone in the top of the window well and keep the window well clean of mud and debris. If you do not water can become trapped in the window well like a pool and can even end up leaking through your basement windows.
If you have any questions or comments about waterproofing please feel free to email me at robabbott@villagebuilders.ca.
To see pictures of waterproofing go to villagebuilders.ca and look at current projects you should find pictures of the waterproofing on the latest house project that we are building.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

66 comments:

  1. interesting blog. It would be great if you can provide more details about it. Thanks you

    Waterproofing

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Rob. I was pulling weeds around the foundation of my house and not the dimple board was damaged and pulled awat in some areas, I think from a tree that was removed because there are roots deep down. Who would be best to have a look at it

    craig

    ReplyDelete
  3. Amazing how simple it can be to communicate with people and have them understand a certain topic,you made my day.

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  5. Thanks for the interesting and great tips, I'll be back for more! Keep us updated!

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  6. Contact the foundation waterproofing company in the area for the repair work to save the house from any type of leakage or humidity.

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  7. Thumbs up guys your doing a really good job.
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  10. i just wanna thank you for sharing your information and your site or blog this is simple but nice article I've ever seen i like it i learn something today...

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  11. Took a lot of time to read but I really found this very interesting and informative, thank you buddy for sharing.

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  12. Thank you for sharing this great article! I need to find someone to do my home waterproofing in Winnipeg, because last year we had a lot of flooding issues during the late spring.

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  13. You claim dimpled plastic membranes are bad because of the seams and are done with tape. 1. They are overlapped and screwed down. 2. You don't even have to overlap much because you can buy ones to cover all the way from top to over footer.....I've seen one advertised as up to 13 feet tall and 65 feet long....so you only need overlap every 65 feet. Behind the dimplex is airflow and allows any little bit of dirt or water to travel down anyway. In the old days there was nothing at all against poured walls and now you're claiming it has to have both the rubber-sticky membrane and a dimpled plastic protector for that. As Colonel Sherman Potter would say: "Horse Hockey!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Concrete is pouris and wicks water. In the old days people only used their basements to hold up their homes, today they are used as livable space. The water penetration in modern homes that are built extremely tight and do not allow outside air to penetrate like old houses had to dry the wet basement area. This water forms mold and mildue and leads to rot and insect infestation. The world has changed and so has the waterproofing and protection of homes, so in the words of Charles Darwin "It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change."

      Delete
  14. Hi! nice post. Well what can I say is that these is an interesting and very informative topic. Thanks for sharing.Cheers!

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  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  16. Hi, bob I find very informative and interesting article. But i need to know that is there any difference between roof coating and water proofing?
    i check http://www.paintingasappcb.com/ they offering their different services. I get information from them too....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Gillian,

      I have posted any explanation for you.
      http://robonrenovations.blogspot.ca/2013/11/can-you-explain-difference-between.html

      Delete
  17. A mind provoking article. If you need an expert in foundation repair in Kansas City area than contact me for Foundation Repair Contractor in Kansas City. I have been helping homeowners with their foundation problems. I have specialized in older homes like stone, rock, or cement block foundations.

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  18. Replies
    1. Thanks for reading it, it's nice to know people are enjoying it.

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  21. This blog is really very information and shares great piece of knowledge, but if you are looking for an effective remedy for wet basement issues, then you can go for Waterproofing Basement Walls service.

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  22. I didn't know these were the steps to properly waterproof your basement. I am going to get on this right away. There was some close calls last year with flooding. If it does decide to flood this year, I want to be ready. http://www.ecosealsolutions.com/

    ReplyDelete
  23. I have been researching ways to waterproof my basement. It is interesting that using tar isn't a permanent way to waterproof a basement. About 20 years ago my parents used tar to seal their basement. I will have to let me know that they should use other means to keep their basement dry. http://www.permadrywaterproofing.com/

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  24. Hey Rob, I have read your blog post and I found it professional and knowledgeable. We also care about doing right things by our customers as you. I just want to tell you that I enjoyed this blog post.

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to read it.

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  26. The use of tar was popular 20 years ago! I gave up using it since it’s only for “damproofing” not “waterproofing” similar to what you said. Tars harden once dry – just like baked cookies, it crumbles easily. It doesn’t have an elastic finish to resist cracks and tears. I don’t understand why there are still other companies who use this cheap and useless practice. The last time there was a leak on my wall, the contractor used a concrete waterproofing solution and it went very well – no waterproofing issues since 2010. I’m completely out with the old and in with the new!

    ReplyDelete
  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  28. First off, I live in Ontario, Canada. I am wondering if anyone can help me out. My builder put a dimpled water/vapor barrier around the outside of my house however it sits about one foot below final grade....is this an issue and if so, how big of one? Is there a building code that speaks to this? Also, the tar sealant was missing or insufficient in some small area's along the top of the barrier and the builder was going to fix them however it has already been backfilled...should I be concerned?
    Thanks!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Without seeing what they did it's hard to comment on the actual application of the tar. What I will tell you is that tar is not waterproofing but damproofing. Do you have a lot of water in your area that you will have to worry about the foundation being saturated? There should be a warranty with it for a year which means if it does fail then they will have to come back and repair it. I guess the problem I have is that it sounds like the guy you hired to do the work isn't taking the time to do a good quality job. Being a foot below the grade is a little concerning, the rule of thumb is that you backfill to the top of the dimple board and then the topsoil covers over it by a couple of inches. With your question about the building code, your waterproofing was suppose to be inspected by the township before they backfilled (if you have a permit). If not you might have to remove the backfill so that the inspector can see the work done below grade.

      Delete
  29. digging out foundation for waterproofing..have hit a water table at the bottom of house...cannott pargerge because water is bottom 4-6 inchs of house...what can i do to ensure the bottom area is waterproofed...thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Raymond,
      Here is your answer to your question about what to do about the water that is in the way of your waterproofing project.
      http://robonrenovations.blogspot.ca/2015/06/water-in-way-of-waterproofing-foundatio.html

      Delete
  30. Thanks for sharing such a useful information. It is very useful and informative.
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  31. Our builder has waterproofing around entire foundation, except the part that makes up the attached garage. There is waterproofing on the concrete between the garage and living space (There is no living space under the garage), so that there is warerproofing 360 degrees around basement living space. But the wall that supports the garage (and the 2nd floor above the garage) does not have warerproofing. Is that common practice? Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, not waterproofing the garage frost walls is very common when you are waterproofing an entire home. Water will not affect the concrete of the frost walls and because there is no livable space behind the frost walls under the garage slab then you don't have to worry about water damage.

      Delete
  32. Thanks so much. This is very reassuring to me.
    Your explainations of waterproofing, and replies to comments and questions, have been very clear, understandable, and helpful.
    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
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  34. My basement has had water get in it a few times, and I need to do something about it. I like all the different ways to water proof a basement. The spray method looks like it could be the best way, but filling in all the cracks. I'll have to try it out.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Such a wonderful post. It was great that you pinned down every aspect of waterproofing
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  36. I few weeks ago, my husband and I went on vacation. When we came back, we had the *wonderful* surprise of two feet of water in our basement. We got it all cleared out and cleaned up, but I really want to make sure it never happens again. I really like the sound of the rolled on waterproofing you talked about. It seems like that would really help decrease the chance of this ever happening again.


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  37. I agree with what you say that Waterproofing is one the most important parts of your foundation and one of the most neglected by contractors. Thanks for sharing this information.
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  39. Very impressive post, good for beginners as well. Thanks for sharing Waterproofing Toronto

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  40. Waterproofing is just technique of coating the object with a thin layer that doesn't allow the water to pass through it,for overcoming from these problems are very essential that's why uses of waterproofing takes place,thanks for sharing informative blog.
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  41. Hello,
    Here is my situation. My house is 30 years old and there are about 6 tie rods that are leaking (2feet down below grade level). I don't think I should dig to the weeping tiles but only two feet Down and patch the holes (hydrolic cement) then put a layer of blue skin (Rolled on waterproofing). Do u think I should use the dimple board as well ?Where would the water drain ? It is another layer of protection, but I am only going 2 to 3 feet Down. What do you think. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your basically wasting your time with the dimpleboard. Your basically patching a bigger problem. Concrete is not a waterproofing which means waterproofing the tie holes stops the water from coming through the tie holes but doesn't stop the water from penetrating the concrete of the rest of the basement. Your waterproofing is obviously not working in the basement. You can dig down and patch them but it will start leaking somewhere else. You should have it dug out and properly re-waterproofed, then you won't have to worry about it for the next 20 years.

      Delete
  42. I recently built a home. And the contractor that poured my basement didn't use tar. Didn't use anything on the exterior except foam boards. 2 things are happening. One I have a egress window. The contractor sawed a vertical
    Joint on both sides of the wall to control a crack so it doesn't go to the window. I know have moisture coming in the bottom 6 inches. Also a corner crack both sides from top to bottom which I pointed out To my builder soon after is was poured now has efflorescence coming in. They told me It was a settling crack. The contractor said they've been in business for 30 years and never used tar. Only for repairs. Advice comments? Thx.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Depending on where you are having the house built, there should have been a inspection from the building department on the waterproofing of the house. The bigger question is WHY IS YOUR FOUNDATION CRACKNG! Do not let the contractor tell you that it is settling, the foundation is not suppose to settle. There are two reasons why foundations crack when it isn't winter (which I'm assuming its not where you are), 1. The wall was constructed on soil that was not prepared for it, for example it was backfilled soil or it was mud or swampy ground. 2. They backfilled your foundation before they framed the first floor on it. This happens because concrete basement walls are meant to hold up walls and not hold back 6 to 7 feet of dirt. They are not retaining walls. Regardless how long they have been in business if they don't know what they are doing then they have been doing bad work for 30 years.

      Delete
  43. Hi! nice post, Thank you for sharing this great article!
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  44. This is really a nice blog in which you discuss some useful things, thanks for sharing this and keep going on.
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  45. Thanks for sharing. For more tips on waterproofing solutions, visit The Happy Homes Blog

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  46. في شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالرياض نعمل قدر الامكان علي حل المشكلة واعطاء العميل فكرة كاملة عن الوضع وكذلك التكاليف المفترض دفعها مع العمل علي اصلاح وصيانة مكان التسرب فقط وليس البدء من الصفر داخل الحمامات او المطابخ كما نقدم في شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالخرج كافة خدمات الصيانة بعد الكشف ويشمل ذلك ( تكسير – اصلاح – ترميم ) كل ذلك بخدمات مميزة وفنيين علي كفائة عالية جدا ومعدات حديثة تضمن صحة النتائج لذلك تعد ركن نجد افضل شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالرياض
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  50. Hello, I'm adding an extension to my house, and the contractor is saying that I should add tar and dimpleboard to the extension for around $2500. My worry is that since the old foundation has no waterproofing that water will get in and thus the tar/dimpleboard being a waste of money (especially given the comments about tar not being water proofing.

    Any thoughts?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The tar and dimpleboard is better then nothing, which is what the rest of the existing home has, so its better to have it installed then have nothing at all. 2500 is not a lot of money to help protect your new addition from water damage. What you really should do is have the entire home protected while you are renovating, that means dig around the rest of the place and install the waterproofing all at once. If you don't put waterproofing on the addition it could cause other problems other then water seepage. Your foundation can crack if it becomes saturated with water and mold can form in the new addition. At the minimum tar it, its better then nothing.

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