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Melting snow and heavy rain can lead to many problems for your home’s foundation. If your foundation contains any cracks, or does not have a proper drainage system, you may end up with a wet or leaking basement. In this final part of our Foundations series, let’s look at some of the waterproofing options available for your home’s foundation.

Interior waterproofing

Not all basement waterproofing involves exterior excavation. If the water issue cannot be addressed from the outside due to limited access or a desire not to excavate, certain water problems can be addressed from the inside.

Interior waterproofing usually involves a weeping tile system along the footing of your foundation inside your basement. This system collects the water that gets into your basement and pumps it to the outside with the help of a sump pump. While this type of waterproofing is more economical than exterior waterproofing, and is less disruptive to the exterior of your home, it does not solve your leaking water issue but rather manages it so that it does no further damage.

Exterior waterproofing

Exterior waterproofing is a more complete approach to solving your water leakage issues. Using excavation around the exterior walls, the source of the leak can be traced and proper waterproofing membranes and a weeping tile system can be installed or fixed. While this approach is more invasive, it provides a more complete solution to any basement leaking or foundation leaking due to water.

Water on your basement floor

If you find water on your basement floor, it may have found its way inside through a process known as hydrostatic pressure.

If the soil around your home is saturated with water, the weight of this water in the soil can create pressure that pushes against your foundation. This is why a waterproof membrane and drainage system are essential to catch and move water away from pressing against your walls.

It is also essential to keep water away from your foundation walls and collecting under your home by ensuring that downspouts move rainwater away from your foundation. As water accumulates, it can create an immense weight against your home and will find any crack that is present as a routine into your home and onto your basement floor.

Basement efflorescence

You may have noticed a white fuzzy substance on your concrete basement floor and wondered what to do about it. This is known as basement efflorescence and it is caused by salt leftover from water. As water evaporates, it can leave behind mineral deposits which lead to efflorescence crystals.

While this is mostly a visual issue, it does indicate that moisture was present on your basement floors or wherever you found the efflorescence.

There are three main conditions that must be present for efflorescence to appear in your basement.

First, there must be water soluble salts located in your walls or basement floor. This is actually quite easily achieved, as mortar, grout, concrete and sand all contain water soluble salts. There is nothing you can do about this as a homeowner.

Second, there must be moisture present in the floors or walls to carry and dissolve the salts. Since concrete is porous in nature, there is often moisture present in it.

Finally, there has to be a route for the water to take to get to your floors and evaporate, leaving behind the salt crystallization. This is where homeowners can take action to prevent the cracks present in foundation walls and floors that allow water to come from the outside onto the interior surfaces of the basement. Basement efflorescence cannot appear without a source of water present.

So, while efflorescence is a visual issue that poses no threat to your health, and can be cleaned up quite simply by wiping with a chemical cleaner, its presence does indicate a bigger problem. If you clean the efflorescence and find that it keeps coming back, then you know your basement has a moisture issue to be looked at.