Waterproofing Best Practices

Waterproofing will result in the driest possible basement. All causes of water seepage are addressed. Experts agree that the very best method to deal with water intrusion is on the outside where the problems exist. If any one tells you different, they are attempting to sell you an interior water control system. No work is necessary inside of the basement when true basement waterproofing is performed, as all of the water is kept outside where it belongs.

Basement waterproofing requires excavating to the footing, or the bottom of the foundation, replacing both sets of drainage tile, footing and downspout, and treating the walls. An important difference is in the material used to waterproof the walls. Most companies are using the same sealant that was being used twenty years ago, tar. Tar is not waterproofing, it is damproofing. Tar has no flexibility and quickly will crack. With the seal compromised, the whole process of dampness leading to cracking leading to water, begins again.

The Integrity Process

Excavate and haul all earth from around compromised foundation walls.The first step in the process is to excavate and haul all earth from around the walls being treated. The main benefit to the homeowner is the removal of the expansive clay which eliminates the pressure that causes wall cracking. Notice the clay footing tiles. These tiles were fifty percent blocked. Under normal rains this home didn’t leak as the tiles were able to move enough water to keep the water level lower than the basement floor. Heavy rains over matched the drain tiles causing the water level to rise higher than the floor creating hydrostatic pressure. The water showed up inside the basement through floor cracks and the cove where the floor and the wall meet.
Step 2. Inspect exposed foundation wall for cracks and damage.We clean the walls and inspect for cracks or openings. This is the one opportunity to make repairs and strengthen the foundation. We use hydraulic cement, which expands as it cures, to restore structural integrity.
Begin three-step sealing processWe now begin the three step sealing process that is exclusive to Integrity Waterproofing. Our first layer of protection is a portland cement based sealant. This material strengthens and hardens the concrete by closing the pores. It also repairs hairline cracks.
Install elsatomeric sealing layerWe then apply a coating of elastomeric waterproofing. Elastomeric membranes are a polymer modified asphalt. It is formulated to stay pliable. Elastomerics self-heal if new cracks occur. Tar has no flexibility and will crack with any foundation movement. Tar will only slow down the penetration of water under pressure; elastomerics will prevent it completely. As a result, tar is classified as a damp-proofer, elastomerics a waterproofer. Elastomeric membranes have been used commercially for deep foundations for almost twenty years. The roofing and window trades have taken notice of the benefits of elastomerics, yet the waterproofing industry still predominately uses the inferior product. Most new home builders are still damp-proofing rather than waterproofing their foundations.
Polyethylene dimpled drainage matFor our final layer of protection, we hang a heavy gauge polyethylene dimpled drainage mat. This material does not tear providing reliable protection for the elastomeric membrane. The dimples create an air gap, so if moisture gets behind it, it channels to the drain tile without ever contacting your wall. We cut the drainage mat to the exact depth of your foundation.
Installing polyethylene dimpled drainage matMost waterproofing contractors, if they use anything at all to protect their waterproofing / damp-proofing, use visquine. Visquine is sheet plastic commonly used for drop cloths. It tears rather easily as it is nowhere near as durable as the drainage mat. It has also been my experience that as the tar dries the visquine tends to peel providing an entry way for moisture that then remains trapped against the wall. Another great benefit to the drainage mat is it stops diffusion. When the moisture level outside of your home is higher than on the inside, moisture will migrate through the foundation walls creating humidity in your basement. By wrapping your home in a durable polyethylene wrap diffusion can not occur. We receive comments regularly from our customers indicating how much less their dehumidifiers run, and just how much drier their basements feel since our process was installed. There remains a noticeable difference in the moisture levels in a home that has been waterproofed with the Integrity process, compared to a home that has been damproofed with tar and plastic.
Install new footing tileWe next install the new footing tile. We use Schedule 35 4″ pvc. This is the drain tile that will keep the water level lower than the basement floor. At this level the basement remains free of pressure and will not leak.
Install new cleanoutsWe always install clean-outs, to provide no-dig access to the footing tile in the event they need to be cleaned or snaked.
Inspect downspout lines for proper drainageWe back fill with gravel and install new downspout lines. Often the downspout lines, which run above and separate from the footing tile, are defective. If they are back-pitched or broken underground then all your roof-water ends up around your foundation. This can result in thousands of gallons of water pooling next to or under your basement. Interior drain systems generally discharge the sump pump to the downspout lines. If the underground lines are not functioning properly, if they have holes or have separated, your system will recycle water. You can not test for these problems with a garden hose as these lines will not back up like they would if they were clogged.
Back-fill with river gravel, never limestoneWe then continue to back fill with gravel. We exceed code and back fill to 18″ from grade for earth areas, and 4″ from grade where cement will be poured. Many companies will use plywood to cut the trench in half. They will gravel on the house side of the wood and fill the other side with the excavated clay. We fill the entire trench with river washed gravel as opposed to the less expensive limestone most waterproofing contractors use. Limestone compacts which limits drainage. The lime also tends to turn into cement which can clog the new drain tiles.
Restore landscaping to its original condition whenever possibleFinally, we restore the landscaping. Do not be misled that this type of job will damage your property. Integrity Waterproofing takes great effort in protecting your yard and landscaping during the process. All equipment is run on plywood. We bring in premium blend top soil at the finish. We replant the shrubbery that may have been removed. Often times it is hard to tell we were ever on your property. This picture of one of our valuable customers home, in Rocky River, was taken ten days after completing the waterproofing. All they had to do was mulch.

Proper waterproofing is an involved process. Few companies accomplish this in a timely manner, with minimal damage to property, and little or no inconvenience to their customers. Fewer yet use the best materials available. Inferior products produce inferior results.

Integrity Waterproofing has proven that, when your focus is on exceeding your customers expectations, excellence becomes routine.