The Pros and Cons of Different Basement Waterproofing Systems

There are few projects that could be more important and potentially costly for your home than installing a waterproofing system (or upgrading your current foundation drainage). Basement projects are expensive for a reason: water damage can lead to some very steep repair costs and can significantly lower the value of your home.

Although homeowners from all areas of the country need to be concerned with proper foundation maintenance, it is especially important for people who live in the Pacific northwest and northeast, where heavy rainfall puts more stress on basement walls. Cracks, dampness and mold on basement walls is primarily due to a phenomenon called hydrostatic pressure, which mounts as the surrounding ground becomes saturated with rainwater.

A good basement system will allow excess water to be channeled away from your home’s foundation, thus reducing the amount of hydrostatic pressure on your walls. This is done using perforated footer drains, which run around the perimeter of the home and deposit excess water in a connecting storm sewer or ditch.

There are several different types of systems that can be installed in your home, and they are generally differentiated by internal and external functions. Internal basement waterproofing systems can fix visible problems such as moist walls or mold, but they are much less effective at eliminating hydrostatic pressure than external waterproofing systems. As one would expect, external waterproofing tends to be much more expensive due to the excavation and materials involved.

If you are considering getting a basement system installed, make sure that you get a free estimate on what your contractor might charge for a specific project. While internal basement waterproofing can be effective in the short-term, you should also consider proper maintenance for your footer drains and external drainage system as well. While it may cost more to excavate and replace footer drains, it adds significant equity to the value of your home, and may stave off a potentially expensive flood.