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Do-it-Yourself Basement Sealers: Not Worth the Time and Money

Jan 13, 2014 • By Matthew Stock.


We Americans are great do-it-yourselfers.

There’s an entire industry that has built up to support our initiative, ranging from books and magazines to online videos to TV shows – actually not just shows but an entire TV network dedicated to weekend warrior homeowners.

There are even DIY celebrities, from the groundbreakers like Bob Vila and Norm Abram in their plaid flannel shirts to the manic Ty Pennington and soft-spoken Canadian Mike Holmes.

And, of course, there’s the stuff.  Hundreds of new power tools and other gadgetry line the shelves of big box home improvement stores, just to make the life of the DIYer a little bit easier.  Materials, too, have been tailored to the do-it-yourselfer – paint with primer already mixed in, ceramic tiles that can be set with an easy-to-use adhesive instead of messy ol’ mortar and various fillers, sealers and caulk that lay claim to fail-safe application.

Of course, there are even DIY tools and products for basement waterproofing and there certainly are steps that a homeowner can take to keep his or her basement dry but there are also a lot of too-good-to-be-true products that may mislead a homeowner into thinking he or she has achieved the equivalent of a professional repair.

DIY Basement Sealers Aren’t Worth the Time or Money

Of course, there are things a homeowner can do in the realm of basement waterproofing.  Replacing a sump pump, for example, is well within the reach of someone with average DIY skills although there still may be advantages to having it done by a professional.

A homeowner who is handy with tools could also extend downspouts outside the house to manage water around the foundation.  However, too many readily available DIY solutions involve connecting pieces of plastic tubing that lay on top of the ground and won’t last long or work well.

The real problem lies with DIY sealing products that promise a quick, easy fix.  For example:

Hydraulic Cement – Hydraulic cement has a certain appeal as a DIY product.  It’s inexpensive, dries fast and can cure in wet conditions, all of which make it seem like a perfect material to stop leaks in the basement.  However, hydraulic cement can’t be pushed far enough into cracks to fill the crack entirely and it’s weak nature when cured, due to lack of aggregate, means it would just crack again even if it could completely fill the original crack.  At best, hydraulic cement forms a surface patch that will be pushed off the wall by hydrostatic or lateral pressure from ground water.

Waterproofing Paint – There’s also an understandable appeal to this product – what could be easier than slapping on a coat of paint?  Well, so-called waterproofing paint can’t just be slapped on – it must be applied with a large, stiff brush and worked into every crevice, especially fun on rough concrete block walls.   Once you’ve done all that work all you have accomplished is to apply a thin surface sealer to the inside of the basement wall that will trap water within the wall and eventually peel off from the dampness and water pressure.

Spray Sealants – Spray foam products make great insulators for chinks and openings in walls or around windows and doors.  They don’t seal walls from water and were never intended to do so.  As for rubberized spray sealants, just don’t waste your money, regardless of how good they may look on TV.  They may have some purpose but it certainly isn’t waterproofing your basement.

If you’re committed to a DIY approach to your home, that’s great.  Just be sure you know your limits and the limitations of the products available to you.  When you need serious basement waterproofing help, turn to a professional basement waterproofing contractor that knows your community and its homes.  At U.S. Waterproofing, we’ve been waterproofing basements all over the Chicago area since 1957 and we have more than 300,000 satisfied customers to our credit.  Please feel free to ask for our free advice.

Tags: basement sealers, basement sealants, seal basement

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