The Danger of Ignoring Basement Moisture

It’s not uncommon for basements to have stone walls. There are unfinished basements with stone walls as well as finished ones. Not everyone opts for drywall when deciding on their finished basement. For some, a coat of paint or raw brick is just more appealing. However, with stone basement walls comes the ability to spot basement moisture. While many people are fine with ignoring basement moisture, POM Waterproofing is here to let you know why this could be a terrible – and costly – mistake.

Where Does It Come From?

The first thing you need to know is, where is your basement moisture coming from? In some cases, basement moisture is just condensation. This comes from your basement walls being uninsulated. Therefore, when they get cold, the moisture in your warm basement collects there. This is the same way your glass of lemonade sweats on a hot day.

However, ignoring this moisture without confirming that it’s condensation can be dangerous. That’s because, on the flip side, you can also get moisture on your basement walls from leaking cracks. If your basement walls have cracks in them, even tiny ones that you can barely see, they can leak in moisture and water from the ground outside.

What Does It Mean?

If your basement walls are leaking moisture in from outside, it doesn’t actually mean a whole lot. Simply put, your basement walls are stone, and stone is fallible against water. Water is able to erode stone at a surprisingly fast rate. Even if your house is only 10 years old, it may be leaking exterior moisture into the basement.

However, while the leaking itself isn’t complicated, the result of it might become complicated. Let’s look at how this can cause long term damage.

Long Term Damage

Basement moisture isn’t something to scoff at. It can go from a slightly damp wall to something worse in no time at all. Here’s how:

The first danger of ignoring moisture problems is the potential for mold growth. Mold loves moisture even more than it loves outright water. When your basement walls are damp all the time, they provide an environment for mold to thrive. This mold can grow directly on the walls, spread to your carpet, get into your subfloor, and ultimately rot the structure of your house. Mold may seem like a mild irritant on the outside, but it can quickly turn deadly.

Not only does moisture risk the rotting of any wooden structural elements, it also poses serious health risks. Even for people who aren’t asthmatic or allergic to mold, breathing in mold spores can cause COPD, pneumonia, and more. This risk is even higher if you have carpeting in your basement, as each step on carpet contaminated with mold will force spores into the air. Mold in carpet is not always visible from the surface, and spores can come through from beneath, leading to an easy-to-miss health risk, all because of wall moisture.

Preventing Basement Moisture

The best way to prevent basement moisture is to confirm the source and take steps to block that source. Condensation is less than ideal, but can be avoided with a dehumidifier. Leaking basement walls, on the other hand, are best managed with exterior basement waterproofing or damp proofing. Give us a call at POM Waterproofing today and we’ll come out to assess your basement as soon as possible.

What Can I Use to Repair Basement Leaking?

If your basement walls have cracks in them, it’s not unusual for them to be leaking water. However, even small amounts, dripping in when it rains, can cause big problems down the line. Mold, bacteria, and pests are just some of the results of leaking basement walls. So, what can you use to repair basement leaking? The answer may not be as simple as you hoped.

Find the Source

The first thing to do is find the source of the leaking. If you’re looking for repair solutions, you probably already know where the water is coming from. If a basement window isn’t doing a great job of keeping out water, you likely need some window well waterproofing. This process is fairly simple. We install something you could call a tray, which catches any water collecting in the window well. The water is then redirected away from the house.

However, if your basement leaking is caused by cracked basement walls, there’s a bit more to be done.

Don’t Fill Cracks

What most people end up looking for when trying to DIY repair basement leaking is something to fill in the cracks in their walls. However, you should never try to fill in basement wall cracks from the inside. 

Because water leaks in from the outside, filling the cracks from the inside ends up trapping water within the walls. The water will then expand and contract with the weather. This will cause a lot more damage to your walls than if you’d left them.

Determine Severity

The next step is figuring out how severe the issue is. During the worst weather of the year, is the leaking simply causing moisture on the inside of the walls, or is it running down and pooling on the floor? If the worst the weather can do is give you some moisture on your interior walls, you likely just need damp proofing. However, if water is coming in enough to pool, even in tiny rivulettes or puddles, you’ll want to go the waterproofing route. 

Both methods involve accessing the basement walls from the outside, which means digging a trench along the side of the house. However, they each offer a different level of protection.

Basement Damp Proofing

When damp proofing, the real culprit is the cracks in the wall, allowing regular ground moisture in. So, when you hire POM Waterproofing to damp proof your basement walls, we fix cracks from the outside and then coat the exterior of your basement walls. The crack repair will build the integrity of the walls back up while the coating will keep moisture from getting in or forming new ones. 

Basement Waterproofing

With basement waterproofing, the culprit is the amount of water trying to get at your basement walls. A high level of ground water will cause damage to otherwise intact walls. This happens when rain collects along the basement wall and erodes the stone.

When we waterproof your basement walls, we do the same process as damp proofing, but take it a step further. Once the wall has been smoothed and coated, we apply a solid membrane and adhere it to the wall. This membrane provides a solid barrier between ground water and your basement. Then, we install a track that collects and redirects ground water that finds its way to the membrane. The water will then be redirected away from the house, ensuring it doesn’t just pool against the membrane.

Give us a call today if you’re interested in protecting your home from invasive water. 

My Basement Flooded – Now What?

Finding your basement flooded is one of the most stressful situations a homeowner can experience. For most, the immediate response is, “What do I do now?”

Luckily, POM Waterproofing has plenty of experience in the area of basement flooding. Let us walk you, step by step, through what you need to do in the aftermath.

Get Rid of the Water

The first step may seem obvious but, when in a panic, the obvious is often foggy. The first step when you find your basement flooded is getting rid of the water. You can do this one of three ways:

  1. A Bucket
    This method is not easy, nor is it fast or effective. You should only attempt to bail out your basement by hand if you have no other option, financially. It can also be dangerous as flood waters can contain disease and parasites and bailing with a bucket usually leads to contact with the water.
  2. A Wet Vacuum
    A wet vacuum is a vacuum that’s able to suck up liquids. Because this requires the same amount of hauling water outside as bailing with a bucket, it’s also not the most recommended. It does save on time, however, as you can suck up water with the hose, instead of trying to scoop it – which gets difficult the lower the water level gets.
  3. A Pool Pump
    You’ve probably seen one of these before – if not in person, then in a movie. Pool pumps are those long, wide hoses that are used to suck all of the water from a pool when it needs maintenance or is going out of commission. Using one of these can clean up the pooled water in your basement in no time, minimizing long-term damage to your foundation and structure.

Begin Item Recovery

When the basement is clear of pools of water, it’s time to begin salvaging your belongings. Take everything out of the basement. It’s recommended to lay out a tarp on the lawn by the exit nearest your basement. This will allow you to sort through what you recover without spreading flood water and mud all over your house.

Remove Remaining Moisture

When everything is out of the basement, it’s time to get rid of any moisture left. It’s recommended to buy or rent a heavy duty dehumidifier and leave it running in the basement. This will suck up moisture in the air, allowing the space to dry faster.

For any surface you can reach, it’s time to take out your entire closet of towels and begin drying. Save sanitation for later. The goal for now is to get things dry to avoid molding, bacterial growth, and pests.

Ensure Safety

When the basement has been completely dried, let the dehumidifier keep running and begin sanitizing the space. Break out all of your favorite cleaners and use them on every surface that was within a foot of the flood water. This will kill any bacteria that made its way in in the water.

When you’ve cleaned up to the best of your ability, you’ll want to have a professional come out and inspect your basement. Someone experienced in basement flood recovery will be able to spot any areas that may need further help, such as waterlogged wood that may rot. Without an inspection, certain red flags may slip your notice and leave you with hefty remodeling bills down the line.

Avoid Another Flood

If your basement flooded just by severe weather, it’s time to prepare for future flooding. If it can happen once, it can happen again. Therefore, if there was a specific source for the flood water, such as a window well, window well waterproofing could save you from another disaster. However, if cracks in your foundation or basement walls are the culprit, it’s time to invest in basement waterproofing. Keep your house lasting as long as you do by investing in your future.

How to Repair a Damaged Foundation

A damaged foundation is bad news for anyone. Your home’s foundation is what keeps it “alive.” Without it, the rest of the structure would quickly fall victim to shifting ground and instability, making the building dangerous to live in. So, how do you know if your foundation is suffering? What happens if it is? Can you repair a damaged foundation? POM Waterproofing has answers to all of your questions and more. Let’s take a look!

Is My Foundation Damaged?

The first step to anything foundation related is knowing if it’s damaged to begin with. There are obvious warning signs from both inside and outside of a building.

Signs from the interior include:

  • Cracks in your sheetrock/drywall
    (Not your paint. Old paint get’s little cracks in it over time and this is harmless.)
  • Cracks in your flooring
    This is most noticeable with tiling or the cement floor of an attached garage.
  • Doors or windows that aren’t aligned correctly anymore
    Have you ever noticed your doors suddenly closing more or less easily during certain seasons? This is due to shifting in your foundation.
  • Floors being uneven
    Your foundation was built to provide a flat, even surface for your house. If the floors of your house are not completely flat, the foundation has shifted.

Signs from the exterior include:

  • Cracks in exposed parts of your foundation
  • Gaps between exterior doors or windows and the exterior wall
  • Displaced moldings, doorframes, and window frames
    If there is a gap between the frame or molding around a door or window and the wall that it should be sitting against, something is amiss. 
  • Cracks in exterior brick or stone walls
    Cracks in the mortar between bricks is bad enough, but any shift in the foundation that can apply enough pressure to crack the bricks themselves is noteworthy.

How to Prevent Damage

If you’re not seeing many of these signs, your foundation is probably fine. However, if you see one or two things that seem like they might indicate the beginning of a problem, there’s a way to prevent that problem from getting worse.

To prevent a damaged foundation, you should heavily consider damp proofing or waterproofing for your exterior. This process is somewhat involved. It aims to install a barrier between your foundation and the surrounding ground. This is very effective at stopping damage from groundwater and moisture. It can also be used to prevent moisture from leaking into basements, which is a leading cause of basement mold.

Can A Damaged Foundation Be Repaired?

The amount of damage a foundation can accrue before it is irreparable is quite extensive. Repairing a foundation actually comes with many solutions. This is especially true if you catch the damage early on. Foundations that are beginning to shift position due to the shifting ground beneath it are some of the easiest to repair – though the process isn’t simple nor cheap.

How to Repair a Damaged Foundation

If you need help repairing a damaged foundation, you’ll need to contact a local specialist. The repair will typically involve digging into the surrounding soil to expose the foundation. Your specialist can then repair it from beneath by applying supports. This uses a method called slabjacking.

If you have questions about damage prevention, waterproofing, or damp proofing, you can get all the help you need right here. Call us at POM Waterproofing and we can help you avoid any future need for foundation repair.

Can a Basement with Moisture Problems Be Renovated?

So, you have an unfinished basement and you want to renovate it into something useful. However, your basement has some moisture problems. The question then becomes: can a basement with moisture problems be renovated? The answer is: it depends. Let’s take a closer look at what it depends on.

What Is the Source?

The first thing we need to know is where the source of the moisture is. Is the moisture showing up on your walls alone? Is it on the floors? Determining the source of the moisture will go a long way toward telling you if you can renovate. If you’re unable to ascertain the source of the moisture by yourself, having a professional come and evaluate your basement is a necessary start.

How Moisture Affects the Home

The reason you need to have your basement moisture’s source determined is because the source changes everything about whether or not it will persist after renovation. Furthermore, it will also determine whether persistence will lead to long-term problems.

Exterior Moisture

For example, if the moisture is coming from outside of the foundation walls and is seeping in through cracks, you will need to waterproof or damp proof the basement in order to renovate without problem. This is because putting drywall and insulation against a wall that’s becoming damp from the outside will quickly lead to water damage and mold problems. The dark space between your drywall and foundation wall is the perfect place for mold to grow and spread. From there, it will continue eating the insulation and eventually spread to the wooden structure of the house.

If the moisture is seeping up through the floor from the ground, you’ll need to have a sump pump installed prior to renovating. Otherwise, ground water can cause the same problem with your floor. The subfloor will get damp and end up molding or becoming soft and fragile from water damage. A waterproof, protective layer will keep ground water from touching the subfloor and a sump pump will collect and redirect water away from the home.

Professional Waterproofing

The reason why professional waterproofing is necessary to solve these problems is because it’s a fairly extensive job. You might feel inclined to just paint the interior, basement wall or fill in any cracks. However, these solutions actually cause more problems than they solve. Filling in cracks from the inside will block any exit for water, leaving it to sit within the basement wall. Then, when the temperature changes, it will expand and contract within the wall. That can cause massive amounts of damage to the structural integrity of the house. When the water is on the ground, the only solution is removal. When it’s on the walls, you must block its entry from the exterior.

Interior Moisture

If the moisture in your basement is determined to be from condensation, renovation is perfectly safe. Condensation is a common problem in basements. It’s caused by the subterranean walls being cold to the touch and the interior air being warm. The moisture in the air simply collects on the cold walls. After drying any condensation from the walls and installing insulation and drywall, the condensation should stop collecting at all. From then on, it has no more access to the cold, stone walls. Plus, the drywall is not such an extreme temperature.

How Waterproofing Can Save Your Foundation

The foundation of your house, made up of the slab of cement beneath it and the stone walls of any existing basement, is vital to the integrity of your home’s structure. A damaged foundation can lead to expensive damage inside the house, such as cracking walls, bowing floors, and more. This kind of damage is not just expensive, it’s unattractive, dangerous, and leads to an overall lower quality of life. So, instead of waiting until you have to fix the problems caused by foundational damage, take a look at how waterproofing can save your foundation from having problems to begin with.

Foundational Damage

To begin, we need to take a look at some of the ways your foundation can be damaged.

One way a foundation can become damaged is if the house was built on unstable ground. This happens a lot in areas with a lot of moisture. If your house is near a river or lake, the ground will shift over many years. Even shifting by an inch over a few decades can cause foundational problems for your home. These problems will be especially noticeable as the seasons change. Do you ever notice your doors opening and closing differently at different times of the year? This is caused by a structural shift. Since the structure relies entirely on the foundation, that means the foundation is shifting as well. 

The second type of damage is water and moisture damage. Even if you don’t live near a body of water, a wet climate can cause damage to your foundation. As rain water, snowmelt, and any other kind of water in the ground moves toward your foundation, it can damage it. But how?

The Pitfalls of Erosion

Have you ever seen a collection of photos showing a timelapse of a river being formed? Have you ever wondered why river rocks are so smooth and round? The answer is erosion. Erosion is when water continually runs over something and wears away at it slowly. It’s powerful enough to carve out pathways in the earth, create canyons, and smooth a boulder into a rock the size of your fist.

This same long-term effect can wear away at your foundation. While most of us don’t have our foundation directly adjacent to a running river, many of us have wet soil piled and packed against the walls of our basements. The water from wet soil, especially in very rainy or snowy regions, will damage our foundation walls over time. 

As the walls develop tiny cracks, the water will get inside. This water travels through the stone, sometimes making its way into the basement. As the water moves through the cracks, it widens them and makes them bigger. This will continue on until the foundation begins to crumble and sag.

Expansion and Contraction

Even worse than the erosion is the expansion and contraction of water as temperatures change. If you’ve ever left a bucket outside over winter, you’ve probably lost yourself a bucket. That’s because, when water wills a space and then freezes, it expands. When it melts, it contracts. When it freezes again, it contracts again. This process repeating over and over again will split a bucket, crack a vase, and even destroy your foundation – unless you do something to save your foundation.

Waterproofing Can Save Your Foundation

If you want to save your foundation from erosion, expansion, and contraction, you need to invest in waterproofing. This is especially important if you have a slightly older house or if you want to prevent a new house from aging poorly. Give us a call today and we’ll be happy to schedule a consultation with you.

Damp Basement Walls: Causes and Solutions – Part 2

In part 1 of this 2-part series, we discussed what might be causing your damp basement walls. We encourage you to check out the beginning of this series to familiarize yourself with what the root problem might be. Because there are multiple reasons you may have damp basement walls, part 1 may help you deduce what your own basement’s ailment is. However, if you’re ready to hear solutions, here they are.

Differing Solutions

Because damp basement walls can be caused by different things, there are different solutions for each cause. However, there is some overlap. Let’s take a look at the most effective solutions.

For Moisture Leakage

When your problem is caused by your basement walls failing to hold out ground moisture, the solution is not an easy one. You might think some kind of putty or cement in the cracks of the wall will cut it. Unfortunately, most of the cracks causing your moisture problem are smaller than you can repair. Plus, filling cracks from the inside can actually cause a lot more problems than solutions. 

Filling in cracks from the inside is a problem because you will only be doing a surface repair. The water leaking in through your walls will remain within the wall itself. If you’ve blocked the water’s route in, it will stay there, freezing and expanding with the change in seasons. This is a one way ticket to major structural damage.

The only foolproof solution to water leakage is basement waterproofing. This is an extensive repair, but a necessary one. In short, it involves excavating around the basement walls and coating them, from the outside, in waterproofing materials. This includes a wet membrane that seals the cracks and evens the exterior wall’s surface. That is followed by a solid membrane that locks out water and protects the more delicate first membrane.

For Condensation

Because condensation is caused by water in the interior air, it can be completely mitigated with some insulation. The important thing is having your basement checked for leakage as well. That’s because, if you insulate the interior side of a basement wall when it’s leaking in moisture from outside, the moisture will then be invisible from the inside but will, instead, collect in the insulation behind the finished wall. That’s a huge mold hazard that you do not want to deal with.

If your waterproofing professionals have confirmed that you are not dealing with water leakage, you can proceed with finishing the interior wall.

The reason finishing the interior wall and insulating helps is because insulation, covering the cold, stone walls, will help regulate the temperature of the finished, internal wall. If your interior wall of choice is drywall, your insulation will keep the drywall from being affected by the cold, stone wall. Then, because your drywall will remain at a warmer temperature, it won’t draw moisture from the air.

Contact Waterproofing Professionals

The most vital step in solving your damp basement wall problems is contacting your local professionals at POM Waterproofing. We can check out the source of your moisture problems and give you the best solution and the best price. Give us a call today if you need a consult.

Damp Basement Walls: Causes and Solutions – Part 1

If you have an unfinished basement, or one with stone walls, you may have noticed moisture on your basement walls. If you’ve noticed you have damp basement walls, you’re probably wondering why they’re damp. The answer can be guessed by most: it has something to do with condensation. The question is, how does that work, and how do you prevent it? Let’s take a deeper look.

Why Do I Have Damp Basement Walls?

There are two primary reasons why you have damp basement walls. We’ll take a moment to look at both, as they both have slightly different solutions.

Condensation

The first reason is that your walls are collecting condensation. Condensation is caused by a cold surface being exposed to warm, moist air. You surely know that steam is caused by heat, which speeds up the particles in the water to the point that it rises above – or into – air that is slightly colder than it. 

This is generally the same principle that makes humidity, and other air moisture, more prevalent in warm environments. However, cold water has slower-moving particles and cannot stay afloat in the air. Therefore, when moisture in warm air comes into contact with a cold surface, it loses its heat and settles on the cold surface, leaving it damp.

Moisture Leakage

The second reason why you might have damp basement walls is that you’re getting moisture leakage from outdoors. This is fairly common and is caused by moisture in the ground seeping through cracks in the basement wall.

Basement walls are typically made with stone bricks, clay bricks, and some kind of brick adhesive, like cement. Stone and brick walls are pretty good at keeping out unwanted elements from the outdoors. However, one place they fall short is in insulation and longevity in moisture-blocking. After years, or even decades, of supporting the weight of a home, stone and brick walls begin getting small cracks. These cracks are usually tiny – most of them unnoticeable. However, this doesn’t mean that they have no effect. Moisture from the earth surrounding your basement walls can – and will – find their way through these cracks and onto your basement walls.

Is This a Problem?

Damp basement walls may not seem like a big deal. However, moisture can lead to numerous problems in your home environment’s safety and integrity. Why is that?

  • Moisture can lead to mold. Mold causes problems in many ways, including, but not limited to, damaging a home’s wooden structure, damaging belongings, causing undesirable smells, causing long-term lung problems, and potentially risking the safety of your food. Even mold that isn’t in direct contact with food can put off spores into the air, affecting food from a distance.
  • Moisture can warm your home’s floors and wooden framework. Even if it doesn’t cause mold (somehow), moisture in your basement can rise up into the wooden structure of your home, making it unstable and weak. We don’t have to explain how a weak structure is unsafe.
  • Moreover, moisture can invite and encourage pests and parasites. Where there is moisture, there is a water source for pests, including all kinds of bugs and mice. Furthermore, mice bring parasites, which also love water.

Solutions to Basement Moisture

If you’re suddenly eager to hear solutions to damp basement walls, you’re not alone. Check out part 2, where we’ll cover solutions to your problem. Or, call us right away.