Home Repair Tips – Basements

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

Basements are simply concrete boxes set in the ground. In dry parts of the country, seasonal rains may flood a basement. In wetter areas, ground water may keep the basement damp all year. Three common basement problems are:

• Dampness

• Cracks

• Holes

If your basement has water seeping through the pores of the wall, the best solution is to waterproof it from the outside. To do this, dig down along the outside of the basement wall. Clean and coat the area with an asphalt preparation.

Another solution is to lay a drainage channel along the basement wall at ground level. This channel should slant about 1/8 inch per running foot. The wider the channel, the more it will protect the basement wall.

New basements are usually waterproofed with asphalt or plastic or a combination of the two.

Two kinds of drainage protection are possible for a basement. One is to lay a drain at the bottom of the wall in loose gravel. This carries off water before water pressure accumulates. Another solution is to build up the soil around the building so it will carry off the surface water before it soaks into the ground.

If the water can’t be stopped from the outside and is caused by a crack, use a wire brush to clean all loose material out of the crack. Shape the crack into a keyway with a chisel. Fill the keyway with mortar or epoxy cement.

Mortar is made by mixing one part mortar cement with three parts fine, sharp sand (beach sand won’t cling) and a little water or glue. Mortar shrinks when it dries, so, for a final waterproofing, cover the mortar with epoxy cement. You may fill the entire crack with epoxy cement if the wall is dry. Epoxy works better than mortar but costs more.

If the hole must be filled while it is wet, use a fast-setting hydraulic cement. Mix it according to the directions on the package and roll it into a

stick shape. As soon as the cement starts to harden, force it into the hole. Smooth it with a trowel and hold it in place until it finishes setting.

Paint damp basement walls with dry powder. Dry powder is a concrete-base paint that mixes with water and helps seal the pores of the concrete. You may also use latex paint.

If all of this fails you may have to learn to live with periodic or constant flooding. Capping the floor with cement and inclining it to the center of the basement, will create a drain channel which can be run to a sewer drain. If the basement floor is below sewer level, end the channel at a hole in the floor called a sump. A pump connected to the sump will lift water to the nearest sewer drain or the outside.

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