What are the Different Options for Exterior Basement Waterproofing?

Angela Crout-Mitchell

There are many options available for exterior basement waterproofing, including the use of french drains, a process known as tanking, and exterior sump pump installation. The basement and foundation of a home is the most likely entry point for water and moisture. Once moisture leaks into a basement, there are many types of problems that can result including foundation damage, damage to items stored in the basement, and the likelihood of lower home value given at the time of an inspection. If the current foundation waterproofing system is proving to be ineffective, many homeowners choose to hire a professional to install a new system, though some choose to undertake installation themselves.

Sump pumps remove water from sump pits to prevent them from overflowing.
Sump pumps remove water from sump pits to prevent them from overflowing.

One of the most popular forms of exterior basement waterproofing, especially in areas of heavy rain and precipitation, is the french drain, also known as exterior fountain drains. In this waterproofing application, a metal drain device is installed near the home's foundation and is attached to a pipe that feeds the runoff water into an in-ground water draining system. French drains are usually very effective and durable when well maintained. Maintenance usually involves ensuring debris is cleared away from the external drain device to prevent clogs. These drains may be installed in several locations around the building to ensure moisture is kept away from basement walls sufficiently.

Another type of exterior basement waterproofing is tanking, which involves the application of a water proof substance to the outside of the foundation walls. This waterproofing technique is most effective when applied during home construction, although it can be applied or redone as necessary after construction is completed. The substance is designed to create a water proof layer between the environment and the wall material. Some contractors will also suggest their clients use an interior waterproofing solution to ensure double protection.

A sump pump is another option for waterproofing exterior basement walls, and involves the installation of water sump pump in the basement flooring. In addition to the sump pump, a thin membrane is applied to the walls and the floor of the basement to provide a web to trap any moisture or water that does get in. This membrane traps the water and moves it to the sump pump to be disposed of through the outside drainage system. Like tanking, this type of exterior basement waterproofing is most effective when planned for and installed during the construction phase. When properly executed, it is an effective means of reducing the potential for water damage to the foundation of the home.

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