So you’ve decided to take the plunge and add some badly needed living space to your home by finishing the basement. You’ve drawn up a plan, set a budget and hired a contractor. You’re all set.
Not so fast. I didn’t hear you mention anything about waterproofing the basement first. Do you really want to spend all that money on walls, floors and ceilings without also making sure that they’re protected from water damage?
If you don’t carve out part of your basement remodeling budget to make sure the basement is protected from seepage before you finish it, you’re asking for trouble.
We’ve talked a lot in this blog about the various sources of water seepage into your basement. It can come through cracks in your foundation walls or mortar joints, over the top of the foundation, through the cove joint and up through cracks in the floor. Water can also enter your basement around badly installed windows and window wells and places where utilities, such as water, sewer and gas pipes and electrical service, penetrate the basement walls.
If you have built frame walls around the perimeter of your basement and covered them with drywall, water will enter behind the walls, unseen, and begin to soak into any porous material, rotting lumber and saturating drywall. Once these organic materials become wet, mold begins to grow.
As the seepage continues, flooring materials like laminate or carpet will become saturated. Tile, either vinyl or ceramic, will separate from the subfloor.
If the problem gets really bad, furniture, appliances and electronics may suffer water damage as well.
What can go wrong? Your whole new basement space can be destroyed and it is highly unlikely that the damage will be covered by your homeowner’s insurance. No more Sunday football on the big screen TV from the comfort of your recliner!
I can’t in good conscience sugar-coat this advice: Make a basement waterproofing professional part of your remodeling team. Any good basement waterproofing company will provide a free assessment of your basement and an estimate to fix any problems they find. Armed with that information, you can plan your remodeling project knowing the real cost of achieving a comfortable, healthy, dry basement that will be useful for years to come.
If you do have basement seepage problems, you can fix them permanently at a reasonable cost before the first two-by-four or sheet of drywall goes up.
If you don’t have any water problems and all your waterproofing safeguards are functioning properly, there is still one thing you should consider. The sump pump is the heart of any basement waterproofing system and a key to protecting your new investment. Part of the basement advisor’s assessment will be the age and condition of the sump pump; you may want to replace it if it’s showing signs of wear.
Most important, though, is that you have a strong, dependable back-up sump pump, preferably one that operates on AC/DC. Your primary sump pump, being a mechanical gadget, will fail when parts break or wear out. Even more likely is that a strong thunderstorm or other event will knock out your power, rendering even the best primary pump useless to protect your finished basement. An AC/DC back-up will step in, not only during power failures, but when the main pump fails.
Sorry if I came on a little strong but I’m just trying to save you from a costly mistake that I’ve seen other homeowners make in my 30 years as a waterproofing advisor. At U.S. Waterproofing, we’ve waterproofed basements for more than 300,000 homeowners, many of whom now enjoy dry, comfortable finished basements. Why not ask for our free assessment of your basement?
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