A wet basement floor is a major problem. When water is leaking into your basement, the space becomes unusable. You can’t take advantage of this part of your house as extra living space, or even for storage. Fortunately, there are proven ways to solve basement water problems. Read on to learn about waterproofing basement floors, and other basement waterproofing details.

Waterproofing basement floors: just one aspect of basement waterproofing

If your basement floors are wet, your first task is to determine where the water is coming from. Sometimes the culprit is a plumbing leak, so it’s important to rule out this possibility before dealing with basement waterproofing issues.

Is water leaking into the basement through cracks in the basement floor slab? A concrete floor with major cracking (wider than 1/8”) can indicate settlement conditions that a
foundation repair specialist will need to address.

Water on the basement floor doesn’t necessarily mean that the floor is the leakage source. If you can’t see evidence of water coming through cracks in the floor, there are two other common sources: basement walls, and the edge of the basement floor, where the slab meets the foundation walls. You will almost always find a crack or gap and this juncture, because the foundation walls and floor slab are built at different times in the construction process.

Taking a holistic approach to basement waterproofing is a better strategy than just focusing on one goal, like waterproofing the basement floor. For example, it’s also important to make sure the gutters and downspouts on your house –the roof drainage system—are effectively channeling roof runoff away from
foundation walls.

French drains: An effective way to waterproof basement floors and walls

A French drain is a shallow trench filled with loose gravel and a perforated pipe that carries water to an outlet point. Basement waterproofing contractors often install French drains as part of a waterproofing system for basement floors and walls. These drainage channels are usually installed around the perimeter of the basement floor, and meet at a sump pit where a sump pump can expel collected water to the exterior of your house.

To understand how the French drain system can keep a basement floor dry, let’s look at what’s underneath your basement floor slab: a thick layer of coarse gravel. Innumerable spaces between pieces of gravel provide pathways for water movement beneath the concrete slab. A French drain that’s installed at the edges of the slab extends into this under-slab gravel layer, providing a drainage pathway for the water. If there’s excess water around your foundation and under the slab, the French drain provides an escape route that relieves water pressure and keeps your basement dry.