Finishing your basement can increase the living space
and value of your home.
We have seen tens of thousands of finished
and unfinished basements with water problems ranging from dampness to all-out
flooding. If you are going to finish your basement, this is what we recommend to
prepare it properly. If you already have finished your basement, the majority of
these precautions can still be made.
Install an effective waterproofing system.
Install a reliable sump pump with alarm and back-up system.
Guard against floods from frozen sump discharge lines.
Seal and finish walls.
Keep the floor warm, dry and comfortable.
Protect against common plumbing leaks from ruining your finished basement.
Inspect your basement windows.
Dehumidify the space.
Perform some basic exterior maintenance.
1. Install an Effective Waterproofing System - If the
basement has ever experienced any groundwater seepage at all, then it needs a
quality basement waterproofing system. The idea is that basement water problems
never get better, they only get worse as the house ages and the drains and
coatings that protected the house fail. Therefore, even if water seepage is a
once a year occurrence, it needs to be fixed before the basement is finished, as
flooding is likely to be more frequent in the future. Some cautious homeowners
put in such a system even if they have not had seepage, just in case. This makes
sense from the standpoint that these systems are far easier to put in a basement
that is unfinished than one where finished walls and floor coverings restrict
access afterwards. It is also highly recommended that this system be installed
around the entire perimeter of the basement.
Install a Reliable Sump Pump with Alarm and Back-up Systems
- If you have a sump pump keeping your basement
dry, it should have an alarm, which will sound off to tell you that the pump has
failed before the floor gets wet. This way, if the pump becomes unplugged or the
circuit breaker trips, you have warning and can easily fix the problem.
In addition, before investing lots of money finishing your basement, you
should have a battery operated back-up pump installed. This is a second pump and
switch in the same sump hole, with a special battery and charging system. The
sump will automatically pump the water out in the event that the power goes out,
the primary pump has a mechanical failure, or when the primary pump fails to
operate for whatever reason. This is important, because without it your finished
basement is only one pump or power failure away from a flood. This system helps
to ensure that your basement is dry all the time.
Guard Against Floods from Frozen Sump Discharge Lines -
If you have a sump pump, it probably discharges outside. Snow and ice can block
the opening and cause it to freeze. When this happens your pump will be running
and the water can't get out, causing your basement to flood. Installing an ice
guard on your discharge line will prevent this problem
Seal and finish walls - Basement walls can leak higher up off of the
floor. Water vapor can also pass through basement walls and contribute to a
higher humidity level in the basement. Invest in a high quality waterproof
sealant with mold inhibitor. It will protect your basement against water and
To finish the walls we recommend a waterproof paneling system that will
improve the appearance of your basement dramatically!
Keep the floor warm, dry and comfortable - Once you have eliminated any
possible leakage problems in the basement, the next thing to eliminate is water
vapor from coming through the concrete floor. Because concrete is porous, water
vapor will slowly and continuously travel up through it. If you lay a carpet on
top of the concrete floor, this moisture gets trapped under the carpet and
causes odors, mold and rot in the carpet.
We recommend first installing a floor matting system that is comprised of a
heavy duty polypropylene material with a tongue-&-groove square tile that,
unlike systems that use wood, is totally water and vapor proof.
Protect against common plumbing leaks from ruining your finished basement
- Any water leakage, whether it be from the
ground or not, will have the same damaging effect on your finished basement.
Some of the more common problems we encounter are listed below.
The first is water heaters leaking. The average life of a water heater is
seven years, and when they fail, they usually leak and flood the basement.
Installing a flood ring will contain water seepage and drain it to the
waterproofing system when the water heater leaks.
second common plumbing leak is washing machine hoses that can flood your
basement even if the washing machine is on the upper floors. These hoses are not
made to withstand the 50 or 60 pounds per square inch of water pressure like our
hard plumbing system is. There is a valve to shut the water pressure off when
the washing machine is not in use, but very few people use them all the time.
Eventually, these inexpensive hoses will leak, or blow-out completely. Our
suggested solution is to install heavy-duty hoses that are made to take the
pressure, and will not blow-out, corrode, or rust at the end connections.
Inspect your basement windows - Will you be
happy with them in your newly finished basement? Basement windows are notorious
for being hard to open and drafty. Furthermore, the wet environment near the
ground or in a window well causes a metal window to rust and a wood window to
rot. Many do not have screens and painting them is a constant challenge.
We suggest replacing your basement windows with energy efficient all vinyl
windows. They usually feature smooth sliding operation, double glass, full
screen, easily removable panes for cleaning or for passing long objects into the
basement, and they never need to be painted!
Dehumidify the space -
We recommend installing a professional grade dehumidifier/basement air system.
Powerful and effective, they are big enough to do the job that consumer grade
dehumidifiers were intended to do. Most standard dehumidifiers are too small to
make much difference, but professional grade basement air systems dry the air
and automatically drain the water out of a hose, so you never have to empty it.
These systems take an average of three times the amount of water out of the air
as a typical dehumidifier, yet they use the same amount of energy. These
professional grade units help to ensure that you won't have high humidity and
musty smells in your finished basement.
Perform some basic exterior maintenance -