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Waterproof Your Basement Before You Finish

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Waterproof Your Basement Before You Finish

In Basement Remodeling by Adam Jensen / October 15, 2020

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If you have a one-story home with a full basement, then that basement represents a major portion of your home’s usable space. The best way to make use of this space is to finish the basement into a new, comfortable living space. But like all home improvements, a little preparation beforehand can go a long way to protecting your investment. Do you need to waterproof your basement first?

Your damp, wet basement can cause more than just a headache. These issues can create bigger problems like mold, mildew, rot, structural damage, and a variety of health problems.

Can you waterproof a basement from the inside?

basement waterproofing interior

Yes! Interior basement waterproofing is a great way to protect your home from water damage. There are also multiple benefits that come along with interior waterproofing compared to exterior.

Our complete lineup of basement waterproofing products includes all the solutions you need for a dry, comfortable, odor-free basement; no matter what’s causing your issues. We offer many solutions for your home, including:

  • Perimeter drainage systems
  • Sump pumps
  • Waterproof wall and floor products
  • Wall and floor crack repairs
  • Replacement windows

How do you seal and waterproof a basement?

The best way to seal and waterproof a basement is to make sure the different systems and strategies work together to keep your space dry.

  • Direct water away from your foundation. Give your basement waterproofing system the best chance by encouraging water to drain away from your foundation. Make sure gutters and downspouts are functioning well to avoid backups and overflowing water that collects near the foundation. If necessary, install splash plates or downspout extensions to transport roof runoff away from foundation walls.
  • Repel water with membranes and/or coatings. While you can’t expect total waterproofing protection from a membrane or coating, this treatment can limit the amount of ground water that penetrates through masonry walls.
  • Install an interior French drain and sump pump system. WaterGuard® drains connected to a TripleSafe® sump pump will provide the best protection against water in your basement. Unlike membrane and coating treatments, the WaterGuard® interior drainage system can deal with water that leaks into the basement along the wall/floor joint. Instead of allowing hydrostatic pressure to build up around your foundation, the WaterGuard® system alleviates this pressure by capturing water before it reaches your basement floor and then pumping it to the exterior.


What is the best basement waterproofing system?

The most effective basement waterproofing method is called interior water drainage. A drainage system can help avoid water buildup in your basement, moving the water from the footers of the house foundation and out below the basement floor. Interior drainage systems can be installed in just a day or two, and are much more affordable than outside basement waterproofing systems.

Is it better to waterproof basement from inside or outside? waterproofing basement trench around perimeter

There are a few big benefits of interior waterproofing compared to exterior:

  • Much less disruption to your home
  • Lower cost

Disruptive Excavation

Exterior waterproofing requires a lot of disruption to your home and yard. The soil around the perimeter of your home will need to be removed, requiring everything else that is on the perimeter to be moved as well. Things such as landscaping, plants, decks, and more will all be affected. Once the soil is removed and the waterproofing system is installed, the soil is then pushed back into place. This dirt will be fluffed and porous, and will absorb more water than any of the soil around it. Over the years, it will settle back down against the foundation and will require constant regrading to prevent water from collecting and pooling against the home.

Interior drainage systems can be installed in a day or two by jackhammering the perimeter of the floor.  Then we place a drainage system on a bed of clean stone. If done correctly, this can be accomplished with a minimal generation of dust in the home and without any long-term or visible disruption of your home. Once the pipes are laid down, they’re cemented back over, making the system almost invisible after installation. No damage is done to the home, the landscaping, or foundation.

Basement Waterproofing Cost

There’s a good chance if you’re looking for a basement waterproofing system, your home already had one installed around the exterior when it was built. Why did it fail? Because exterior excavation systems with French drains or drain tile will eventually need service. When they’re installed, they’re laid around the outside edge of the foundation on a bed of gravel. Gravel is laid on top to improve drainage, and a layer of filter fiber is laid on top of this. If there is no filter fabric, the pipes will clog, and if filter fabric exists, then that can clog just as easily. These drains are impossible to service without excavating the system again, they’re doomed to clog over time. If your exterior drainage system fails and the basement leaks, what will you do?

When a new exterior waterproofing system is installed, it’s often installed to replace the one that has already failed. This comes at a high price! Exterior waterproofing systems are much more expensive than interior ones- generally costing about double the price. Also, because they’re much more accessible to service and maintenance, interior waterproofing systems can last much longer.


Is a French drain a good idea?

Unless your home is located on a slope and there is enough room between your house and your neighbor’s to dig a gravity drain, an exterior French drain (also known as drain tile) system will have no natural way to discharge any water collected in the drains downhill. If the water cannot run down naturally from the bottom of your foundation and outside of the home, then the drainage system cannot work on its own power. In cases where the drainage runs to a storm sewer or dry well, that system will need to be significantly lower than the drain’s discharge line, and the amount of water that can be discharged from around the foundation is limited to the holding tank’s capacity from the entrance point of the pipe.

In most cases, a sump pump may be installed to pump the water out of the perimeter drainage system. But if you’re going to install this inside the home, why not just install the rest of the system there as well and avoid the foundation excavation?


Having a basement waterproofing system in place or at least having your basement inspected for waterproofing needs is a great way to ensure your investment is protected. If you have any concerns about moisture in your basement, give us a call! Our Specialists can perform a detailed inspection of your basement. We work out of Novi, South Lyon, Grand Blanc, and surrounding areas.


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