Why Focus on Basement Waterproofing
They say a man’s home is his castle. An impenetrable fortress that he has struggled his whole life to achieve that will immortalize his accomplishments. Unfortunately, just like a man, no structure can last forever. Every material that occurs in nature is bound to decay and crumble into dust. Even synthetic materials don’t last forever, they just take longer to decay.
This is very bad news for every homeowner.
Fortunately, we can at least learn how to preserve our homes so that they can last longer than our lifetimes, but it takes both dedication and knows how to make those structures last.
So, today, you are going to learn why it is important to maintain and preserve what lies in the foundation of your home. The basement.
Concrete and Brick are Weaker than you Think
One would think that something solid like brick or concrete would have little trouble keeping moisture away. However, concrete and brick are not as solid as you might think. Especially against moisture.
Unless someone has actually taken the time to work with the material, it would be easy for most people to think that something like concrete has no holes or even liquid inside it. But they would still be dead wrong.
Concrete is naturally porous – typically 10 to 18 percent air. To make new concrete more malleable for workers the concrete itself needs to have water added to it. The more water that is in concrete, the easier it is for people to manipulate the material.
However, there is a price to be paid for making the material more workable. During the drying process, the water evaporates and leaves behind microscopic holes that become filled with air. This doesn’t sound bad in and of itself, but if there was more water added to the initial mixture, then the concrete would have a higher amount of microscopic holes. And if the concrete has too many holes in it, the end result would be a weaker structure.
So, without anything to properly seal these microscopic holes, it would be all too easy for just groundwater to seep into your basement through absorption.
This also applies to brick.
Signs of Moisture in your Foundation
Humidity is a naturally occurring thing in the South East of the United States, let alone the Chatanooga Tennesee Area. This can cause major problems, especially when it comes to the foundation of your home. With this kept in mind, you can get a more clear picture of when and what to look for when it comes to your home. There are several ways that you can tell when there is excess moisture in your foundation, some of which are more obvious than others.
One of the more obvious signs is a scientific phenomenon known as efflorescence. The term is a French word, meaning “to flower out” and it describes a phenomenon in which salt blooms from the soil and binds itself to a natural structure. While this sort of thing often happens to natural materials like rock, porous materials like brick and concrete can be affected. Efflorescence happens when too much moisture stays in the soil for long periods of time. This results in a chemical reaction separating the more dense minerals from the soil in your foundation, pushing it outward and upward.
So, if you see any white powder gathering at the bottom of your home, that can be a strong indicator that there is already too much moisture in your basement.
Other Signs of Moisture
A little bit of observation goes a long way when it comes to figuring out what is causing the excess moisture.
Here is a checklist of things that you can look out for:
- Is there any standing water nearby the foundation?
- Is there any mulch or debris that is preventing the diverting of water from the foundation?
- How far does the drainage pipe go? Does it divert away from the foundation?
- Are there any leaks, cracks, or other sign of damage to the joists?
- Does it smell like something is decaying in the area?
Once you figured out where the moisture is coming from and why it is staying, you can begin cleaning and drying out your basement foundation.
Ways to Decrease Humidity in the Basement
A company dedicated to the creation of concrete sealant, Radon Seal, had some great advice regarding what you can do to dry out the humidity in your basement. Since they said it better than I can, I will just leave a few of their notes here that might be very useful.
- It will remove some humidity but not enough. Keep in mind it will shut off when it reaches the target temperature regardless of
humidity. Still, a full 30% of an air conditioner’s load is used to remove humidity. By reducing indoor air humidity, you will save on air conditioning bills.
- The most common solution. Power consumption $30-50/month. Be sure to keep it clean to avoid mold growth, which would defeat its purpose. It draws in 20 to 30% more moisture through the concrete, which in the long run speeds up its deterioration and allows in more moisture.
- Pulls out humid air from the basement and draws in fresh air from the outside. Unlike just openings the windows, the exchanger reduces the energy losses in heated or air-conditioned air. In general, a good solution for today’s “airtight homes” with low fresh air exchange. But rather costly initial cost and operation.
Seal the Concrete
- The most basic, least expensive, and effective methods with no on-going running costs. Seal the concrete walls and floor with RadonSeal® Deep-Penetrating Concrete Sealer to greatly reduce the transmission of water vapor, seepage, and radon gas.
Repair Cracks, Seal Gaps
- Seal all openings or gaps in the concrete that easily allow water vapor to pass through.