If you've ever had to deal with a damp and musty basement, it's not pleasant. But basements are supposed to be damp, right?
Well, when that pesky dampness or small leak becomes something bigger, or your basement is letting in more than just a little water each time it rains, then it's time to take action.
You don't need to immediately run out and find a company that specializes in waterproofing basements though. With the right industrial coating from a reputable supplier, you can take matters into your own hands.
Not all basements are created equal
And the kind of walls you have in your basement will determine how and why it leaks.
Poured concrete walls - These usually leak along the joint between the floor and the wall. High hydrostatic pressure outside the foundation can cause seepage through even the most solid concrete walls. It can also force water into the basement along the crack that exists between the floor and the walls.
Also, any cracks that form in poured concrete walls are ideal pathways for water to enter the basement.
Concrete block walls - Like poured concrete walls, these will also leak along the floor/wall joint. The mortar joints between individual concrete blocks also have the potential to leak. If there's pressure against a concrete block foundation, it can weaken the mortar joints. This causes cracks that allow for water seepage.
Also, the hollow cores in concrete blocks can fill with water which, in turn, will cause the foundation to leak for some after the soil outside the house has dried.
Clay tile walls - These walls are sometimes found on historic houses and the most common location for a leak is the floor/wall joint. The mortar joints between clay tiles is also a common place for seepage.
Similar to concrete blocks, clay tiles also have hollow cores that can become filled with water. This can create a reservoir of water that can leak into the basement over time.
It should be noted that clay tile is brittle and more easily damaged than other masonry materials, so extra care must be taken when working on this type of wall.
Waterproofing basements might seem like a huge task
It may not be as hard as you think though. Using a polyurea coating is your first line of defense in drying out your damp basement and can be done in just a few easy steps:
1. Prepare the surface.
Getting the best results and the most from the coating are dependent on this first step. Be sure to read all label instructions before beginning taking on any talks that involve waterproofing basements.
Run a test patch first in an area where it won't show. That way, you'll know for sure if there will be proper adhesion and drying so that you'll be satisfied with the product.
The wall surface needs to be clean and dry. Sand down any rough wood surfaces and remove loose or peeling paint with a wire brush.
If you're working with concrete surfaces, you can prepare them by using a disc grinder and carborundum disc. Or you can sand blast them.
If the concrete is loose or crumbling, repair it and allow it to cure completely. If there's mildew, you'll need to give it a power washing. And if it's new concrete, allow it to cure for at least 30 days before applying a coating.
2. Prime the surface, fill cracks and apply seam tape.
If there are any joints or cracks that are wider than 1/8 inch, fill them with a trowel grade coating and filler. In order to avoid future cracking and leaking, you'll need to seam tape all joints and cracks. Use a self-adhesive, high-strength, contouring seam tape that is pliable so it is easy enough to shape with your fingers.
Once seam tape is placed over a primed surface, it is nearly impossible to remove. So for the best adhesion, prime all surfaces before applying the seam tape.
Also, do not substitute asphalt sealers. They don't serve to waterproof, as asphalt just floats over damp surfaces.
Mask sensitive areas before starting.
Drying the basement wall out completely before beginning is ABSOLUTELY necessary. You can use a propane space heater or rent - or even buy - a construction space heater.
As everything dries, allow for proper ventilation. Waterproofing basements when they are damp will not be effective.
And keep in mind that low temperatures and high humidity may require increased drying and/or curing time.
3. Application - regular and heavy duty.
Your polyurea coating from Marvel will be sprayed on. Make sure you follow the directions correctly so the chemicals are properly mixed.
Apply the coating until you have a continuous, unbroken seal across the entire surface that is at least 30mils thick. That's about the thickness of a dime.
Using two coats will cover and waterproof all of the surfaces in your basement, you're better off with more. Particularly if you're dealing with a severe water leaking issues.
4. Safe cleanup, storage, and disposal.
Tools and small spills can be cleaned up with water. Any unused product can be stored in its original container. Be sure that it's tightly sealed and kept stored at 45 to 85 degrees and prevent from freezing.
Anything that's being disposed of should be in accordance with state and federal and local requirements; thinning it with water up to 10%.
If you've had success with waterproofing basements using industrial coating, please feel free to share your story!