Waterproofing Your Basement

Ahhhh . . . . the basement. While it can be a great way to add extra space to your home, it can also be a source of additional problems. Perhaps the most common problem that we see in basements is that of water. Everything from runoff, groundwater and condensation all add up to bad news for basements. Waterproofing your basement is a must do in order to protect against damage and harmful health side effects. Many older homes have basements that tend to be leaky and damp which make it only suitable for use as a storage (although you have to choose what to put in storage safely) area.

Finishing a Basement

When you do decide to make your basement into a more livable space by adding an additional bedroom, game room, family room, bathroom, etc., it’s important to know the proper steps to mitigate water from entering the space down the road. Begin by realizing that waterproofing is almost 100% necessary anytime that a structure is constructed at or below ground level. If ground water is likely to build up in the soil and that water table will rise, then hydrostatic pressure builds against basement walls and underneath basement floors. Moisture related problems are almost always bad. Mold and decay problems are the two most common side effects of moisture in the basement.

Waterproofing Your Basement

Your basement remodeling project needs to have one primary goal in mind . . . keeping water out. Aside from planning, saving and applying for permits, you will need to begin the project by evaluating the perimeter of your home. You want to ensure that the ground that is next to the foundation of the home slopes away from the foundation as opposed to towards it. After a home is constructed, the backfilled dirt will typically settle over time thus allowing for it to settle lower than the surrounding dirt.  And, ultimately causing it to slope towards your home instead of away from the home.  In order to remedy this problem, you will need to add additional dirt against the foundation to create a minimum drop of 2” per foot that you move away from your home’s foundation.

According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, over half of all homes in the United States have a “wet basement” problem. The last thing that you want in a basement is a musty smell. Solutions to the proverbial wet basement problem range from installing a French drain or perimeter drain system to the use of a dehumidifier. You always want to be proactive in your approach in order to mitigate more serious damage to your homeIf you notice dampness and a musty odor when you enter your basement, you may be experiencing the first signs and should make it a priority to combat the water before more serious damage occurs to your home.

There are two types of waterproofing: 1) Interior and 2) Exterior.

Interior Waterproofing:

• If you have any cracks in the interior walls and flooring, then try applying a concrete sealer

• A polyethylene membrane can be done as an alternative to epoxy coating if you so choose

• Waterproofing paint

• Basement drainage systems

• Dehumidifier

• Plastic sheets and panels

Exterior Waterproofing:

• While interior waterproofing is good, waterproofing your exterior can be even better. The downside of this method is that it typically is more costly though.

• Excavation around the house in order to install waterproofing mechanisms and drainage

• French drain system

• Sump pump

Each home and basement are unique.  Therefore, it is best to get a few ideas and bids from licensed professionals. This will give you the range of options available even if you plan to do the waterproofing of the basement yourself. So, here’s to dry and un-smelly basements as they can be a deterrent for buyers.

FSBOwe buy houses, Waterproofing Your Basement

Rick Toney

View posts by Rick Toney
Rick Toney Is A Seasoned Real Estate Professional With Over 25 Years Of Real Estate Experience, Writes A Weekly Real Estate Blog And Is A Principal of Blue Moon Realty Group And Mesa Realty Advisors. Blue Moon Realty Group Is A Residential Redevelopment Company Specializing In The Purchase And Renovation Of Older And Physically Distressed Homes (Flip This House Boston). Mesa Realty Advisors Is An Affordable Housing Developer Specializing In The Redevelopment Of Existing Low-Income Housing Properties. Rick Is A Certified Public Accountant (CPA - Retired) In The State Of California, A Certified Property Manager (CPM - Retired) And A Real Estate Broker In The States Of California (Retired) And Massachusetts.


  1. Kain KeetonMarch 18, 2017

    If your basement damage from water damage, It can damage the structure of your home, It is so much important to protect your basement from water damage. You can also take advice form the water extraction expert they give proper advice.

  2. Silas KnightJuly 25, 2016

    I definitely agree that moisture related problems are never good. That is way waterproofing is so important, especially for the basement. So, if there are two different types of waterproofing, are both of them necessary? Or is one good enough?

  3. Marie WatsonMay 3, 2016

    Rick, thanks for explaining how much of a hazard it can be not to waterproof your basement. It makes sense that you would want to avoid water damage to the items you may be storing in your basement, but I didn’t realize that a damp, leaky basement can also cause health problems for you and your family. Hopefully, I can find a reputable local contractor to make sure my basement is waterproofed, and my home, family, and belongings are kept safe.

  4. Hazel OwensMarch 16, 2016

    I appreciate your list of both interior and exterior waterproofing methods. There’s so many ways that water can get into a basement, so preventing that from happening can be a challenge. As you said, proper drainage, waterproof paint, crack filling, and sloping the landscape away from the home can all be ways to prevent water damage. Thanks for all the tips.


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