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Foundation Waterproofing vs. Damp Proofing - What Is the Difference?

Jan 27, 2012 • By Matthew Stock.

Foundation Waterproofing vs. Damp Proofing - What Is the Difference?

Imagine you are building a house.  Okay, not doing the actual building of the house but having it built for you - sorry all you home builders out there.  Your dream house - beautiful vaulted ceilings, custom kitchen cabinetry, full finished basement complete with media room and a recreation room for the kids.  Your contractor has thought of everything, all the way down to having a full foundation waterproofing system installed at the time of construction.  You will never have that musty basement like the one in the home you grew up in as a kid.  Your family was missing so much unused space!

We hate to burst your bubble here, but you have been misled!  Or maybe you just didn’t understand when your spouse told you that the carpeting in the basement was wet after last night’s storm.  How could you have a basement leak???

The answer is quite simple: that “waterproofing system” was actually damp proofing.  To make matters worse, the contractor probably lead you to believe damp proofing and waterproofing were the same thing.  Ouch!!

So, where is the misconception?  Let’s take a look at the facts and just what Foundation Damp Proofing and Basement Waterproofing are:

Foundation Damp Proofing:

Concrete is porous by its nature. Foundation walls will condensate much in the same way as an ice cold glass of lemonade does on a hot summer day.  This is due to moisture in the soil which rests against the foundation walls in the ground.  Modern construction detail typically includes an asphalt based coating, usually applied on the exterior by spray or roller, against the bare concrete walls.  The intention of damp proofing is to prevent water vapor permeating the foundation which can result in condensation on the interior of the foundation walls.


Foundation Waterproofing:

Waterproofing is a process which usually occurs post-construction.  It includes concrete crack repair, installation of modern footing tile drainage systems (drain tiles) or application of exterior waterproofing, such as elastomeric membrane systems.  Rarely is a full foundation preventative waterproofing system installed at the time of the original construction.  This can be extremely cost prohibitive to the builder.

So, does this mean that a basement cannot be fully finished until the foundation “settles”, some 10-20 years after the house is built?  Not by a long shot.  The most likely cause of seepage in a poured concrete foundation (which is the most common in Chicagoland) is a crack in the foundationU.S. Waterproofing has been performing concrete crack repairs for more than 50 years.  Often these repairs can be performed from the outside with no need to remove the drywall inside your finished basement. 

Our team of Advisors have unmatched experience and can visually inspect your home for existing, or even potential leaks in the basement or crawl space.  Contact us today to schedule your free evaluation. 

Tags: damp proofing, foundation waterproofing

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