That white flaky stuff you see is called “efflorescence.” It’s mineral salt residue that gets left behind when water evaporates. Sometimes it looks like white dust at first, but then you realize it’s in the middle of the wall or in another odd spot where dust normally doesn’t collect.
So what is efflorescence? How does it get there? What does it mean and what should you do? That is what we will discuss in this post!
Efflorescence: What Is It & Where Does It Come From?
At its most fundamental, water is a molecule made up of atoms. The water molecule contains precisely three atoms: two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom (or H2O, as you probably know). But water can also have lots of other things in it, too!
Water is what chemists call a solvent—a substance that has the power to dissolve other substances. In fact, water is a universal solvent, which means it can dissolve more different types of substances than any other solvent on the planet.
As well, the way water is constructed, with two positively charged hydrogen atoms and one negatively charged oxygen atom, lots of substances that need dissolving are naturally attracted to it. Salts, minerals, chemicals and other substances are drawn to water, so water picks these substances up as it flows toward wherever it’s going.
Then it gets to your basement—from a recent storm or a rising water table, or from sprinkler system runoff or some other route—and it is carrying all these other substances with it. What happens next?
How Efflorescence Gets Into Your Basement
“Efflorescence” comes from a French word that means “to flower out.” This is exactly what efflorescence does! That dusty white matter you see is composed of the mineral salts “flowering out” as the water that carried them inside your basement evaporates, leaving them high and dry (so to speak) and in plain sight.
What is interesting about the building blocks of the typical basement structure—concrete blocks, poured concrete, masonry bricking—is that this material is naturally somewhat porous. Basically, this means that water can and does regularly penetrate the material.
In past centuries, when basements were installed directly over cellars as a point of access to food supplies stored beneath, no one much cared if the basement area took on a bit of water or became seasonally humid. But today, people live, work and play in basements, which are viewed as an extension of the home’s useful space.
So today, when a new basement is being constructed, some type of initial damp-proofing protection is typically applied. But this initial application has a shelf life, which can be shortened further by shifting soil, changing water table levels, ground settling and other factors.
As the initial damp-proofing wears off, porous concrete begins to take on moisture in a number of ways. This moisture makes its way through tiny capillaries and pores in the concrete and seeps into your basement, where it slowly evaporates and leaves behind its calling card—dried mineral salts, or efflorescence.
What Efflorescence Is Trying to Tell You
As you may have figured out by now, efflorescence is carrying a message from your basement to you to let you know moisture is getting inside somehow.
Its primary routes may be micro-fissures or capillaries—tiny channels so small they can be nearly impossible to perceive with the unaided eye. Water can also enter through larger fissures or cracks that are visible.
Another way water routinely gets in is through windows when window well drains get backed up or simply degrade and stop working. Water can also seep up from the ground through your foundation and cause dampness on the basement floor.
If this seepage is quite slow, efflorescence may be the only warning sign to alert you that your basement has a leak.
Here, it can help to do an initial walk-through and note the areas where you see efflorescence. Next, clean the white powder away from those areas and wait a few days and do another walk-through. Notice if you see efflorescence everywhere or just in one specific area. This will give you information about where and how moisture may be entering.
What to Do About Efflorescence in Your Basement
Learning how to control damp, moisture and water leaks inside basements is an ongoing science. As homes get older, new problems are discovered and new solutions are created to solve those problems.
The best step after discovering basement efflorescence and doing your basement walk-through to find as many affected areas as you can is to contact a professional to inspect and evaluate your basement’s risk level for water damage.
In some cases, the risk may be low and a dehumidifier can handle the moisture removal to buy you some time to budget and plan. In other cases, the moisture may point to a bigger structural issue that needs resolution before it worsens and turns into a major repair.
Affordable basement waterproofing options exist to prevent moisture damage in your basement, provide peace of mind and improve the future resale value of your home. Best of all, waterproofing basement walls from inside will not impact the usability of your basement space.
Get in Touch
Are you concerned by the presence of efflorescence inside your basement? We can help!
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.
Spend enough time in the company of people who own older homes with older basements and you might begin to dread the day your basement finally springs a leak.
Statistically speaking, you have a 60 percent chance of this happening to you.
Moisture in the basement is quite common for any number of reasons, only some of which you can control.
Luckily, there is a way to control basement waterproofing cost. When you learn the early warning signs your basement sends out to alert you to a moisture problem, you can act before the problem becomes a major repair and expense.
Prevention Is Cost-Effective!
If you are in the process of building a new home that will have a basement, you can build in eternal peace of mind by including full exterior or interior basement waterproofing as part of the job.
Taking a preventative approach may cost you a bit more now, but it can save you a bundle later and increase the potential resale value of your home when you are ready to sell.
Common Basement Moisture Issues and Their Causes
Here is a brief overview of the most commonly reported basement moisture issues and their likely causes.
This is particularly problematic with older homes. The basement is no spring chicken, and chances are good it has formed micro-fissures or cracks over the years.
Topography changes can worsen any structural degradation as the years pass. Changing water table levels, shifting soil, surrounding construction that re-routes or overburdens drainage systems and similar issues can also change how easily water finds its way into your basement.
When the ground shifts, this can wreak havoc with your home’s grading, causing water to flow back toward your foundation instead of away from it.
Failing sump pump
Sump systems, like all major equipment, have a time-sensitive useful life. Over time, your sump pump may struggle to keep up with the demands of its job.
We have all seen how global warming and climate change is also changing our weather patterns, often intensifying storms and increasing rainfall.
This in turn can create more water pressure (hydrostatic pressure) on your basement walls and foundation as water fights to find a way in, causing dampness, then seepage, then outright leaks and standing water.
Structural wear and tear
Whether you have a poured concrete foundation or a concrete brick foundation, natural settling and mortar degradation are two common reasons moisture or water finds its way inside your basement.
Window well drains that clog up or become compromised can cause nearly as much damage as an outright flood—those wells can hold a surprising amount of water that has nowhere else to go once the drain becomes blocked.
Frozen drainage lines are another common reason why window wells, sump pumps and other protective systems can’t do their job of keeping water out of your basement space.
Control What You Can To Keep Water Out
Here are some things you can do to prevent moisture and water leaks in your basement.
Maintain your gutters, downspouts and drainage system
A well-maintained drainage system with effective downspouts and clean, clear gutters is better able to do its job of routing water away from your basement.
This includes maintaining window wells as best you can, access permitting.
Evaluate your landscaping and grading
Choosing the right landscaping and ensuring your grading is appropriately lower than your home’s foundation can prevent further basement moisture and lessen existing issues.
Install a backup sump pump
Whether your sump pump is brand-new, middle-aged or nearing its golden years, giving it a little extra support in the form of a back-up sump pump system can potentially save you thousands of dollars in basement flooding and mould clean-up and repair.
Installing a portable dehumidifier in your basement can extract excess moisture and prevent mould and mildew from forming. Installing exhaust vents where appropriate (especially if you do laundry in your basement) can also be a cost-effective preventative measure.
Insulating and sealing your basement
Adding insulation and sealing your basement floor, walls and ceiling can keep excess moisture out and aid in humidity and temperature balancing year-round.
Controlling Basement Waterproofing Cost
Basement waterproofing can be accomplished in a number of ways. There are both exterior and interior treatments.
Some treatments are permanent and preventative, while others are more like Band-Aids or stop-gap measures.
These variances can mean that gathering quotes from contractors quickly becomes an exercise in confusion and frustration.
When you get two or three quotes with vastly different pricing, chances are good this is because each contractor is recommending a different type of waterproofing treatment. This is when you want to sit down with someone knowledgeable and trustworthy who can help you sort through your options and select the best, most cost-effective treatment.
Exterior basement waterproofing is typically reserved for new construction or major structural issues that likely will also require other invasive repairs. When the recommended basement treatment comes with a major price tag (in the tens of thousands of dollars), you are likely looking at a quote for exterior waterproofing.
Interior basement waterproofing is generally recommended for an existing basement with ongoing issues with humidity, moisture, odour and minor leaks.
This service can often be done for as little as a third of the price of an exterior treatment, with the average nationwide fee ranging from $2,000 and up.
Higher quotes often include recommended repairs, such as repairing cracks, sealing leaks and improving drainage and downspouts.
Get in Touch
Are you concerned about moisture in your basement? We can help!
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.
If you have a basement or are planning new construction including a basement, chances are good you are already thinking about basement waterproofing.
Perhaps you are wondering if waterproofing basement walls from inside can protect your new basement from moisture and leaks later on.
Or maybe your question is about whether waterproofing basement walls from inside could be a potential fix for leaks or dampness in your existing basement.
Read on to learn the answers to these and other basement waterproofing questions!
Hydrostatic Pressure: What It Is & How It Causes Leaks
If you had to take a guess, how much do you think a single cubic inch of rainwater weighs as it presses against your basement walls?
According to range scientists, one cubic inch of rainwater can weigh 60 pounds or more as it presses against your basement walls. This is called “hydrostatic pressure” and it is a major cause for basement leaks.
With continual hydrostatic pressure from sprinkler runoff, storm water, underground springs or even your local water table, your walls will be hard-pressed to keep that water out forever.
What happens when there is more than one cubic inch of water in the soil surrounding your basement walls?
Imagine hundreds or even thousands of pounds of water pressing against your basement structure. How long will the integrity of the walls and floors, seams and joints withstand this kind of force?
Wrap It To Protect It: How Waterproofing Works
When you are about to head outside and see that it has started to rain, what do you do before you leave? If you are like many, you probably grab an umbrella or, better yet, a raincoat!
With the right accessories, you can stay dry even while standing in pouring water. This is the same basic concept that helped invent today’s basement waterproofing treatments.
There are two basic methods for waterproofing a basement: exterior and interior.
Exterior waterproofing is really only financially feasible when you are waterproofing a new basement-in-progress as part of a preventative measure or when you only need to treat a single wall that has been noticeably impacted from the outside by something like a tree root.
Otherwise, the cost to excavate fully around your basement walls, apply the treatment and restore the soil and landscaping is typically prohibitive.
Waterproofing basement walls from inside is the first-choice treatment for homeowners who need to address an issue with seepage, standing water or moisture in an existing basement structure.
Different Types of Inside Basement Waterproofing
The type of inside basement waterproofing treatment you choose will depend on what type of water problem you are facing.
Some issues can be fully resolved by simply applying the basement waterproofing treatment to seal your basement interior and prevent further moisture from entering.
However, some issues need preparatory repair treatments before the waterproofing treatment can be applied.
Once larger cracks or leaks have formed, this two-phase approach to inside basement waterproofing is necessary to both preserve the structural integrity of your basement and prevent further moisture from entering.
How to Know Your Basement Needs Waterproofing
Your basement has its own way to communicate with you that something is wrong. These warning signs are each indications you may need to consider waterproofing basement walls from inside.
Humidity and dampness
Humid basement air and damp walls let you know that somehow, somewhere, moisture is seeping into your basement.
A dehumidifier can offer a band-aid solution, but the only sure way to prevent mould and mildew from forming is to seal up micro-fissures and cracks with an inside waterproofing treatment.
Sump pump running
When your sump pump never seems to fully shut off, this can be a sign that water is continually seeping into your basement from somewhere.
Water may be entering from walls or flooring. In these types of situations, often basement waterproofing is combined with the installation of a backup sump pump for peace of mind.
Do you dread going down into your basement because it always smells...off? Musty, damp, grassy—these are some ways homeowners describe the unmistakable aroma of “dirty gym socks” that often arises once mould and mildew has begun to form.
Mould and mildew of any strain can be particularly concerning because spores can colonize in micro-fissures where no human eye can ever detect them. Over time as the colony grows, you may begin to see discolouration on the interior walls, but odour is definitely going to be your first warning sign.
Once mould has formed, it will be necessary to get an evaluation for remediation work before it is safe to proceed with interior basement waterproofing.
White powder on walls
Efflorescence is the technical term for the white powdery residue that remains once water has evaporated. The white powder is from the salt present in the water.
Seeing efflorescence anywhere inside your basement is a clear indication that water has been there. This residue must be cleaned off before your basement can be waterproofed.
Obvious leaks or standing water
The sign most likely to trigger outright alarm in homeowners is the sight of water leaking into or pooling on the floor.
Here, the first order of business is always to seal the leak before proceeding to seal the basement with inside waterproofing.
Inside Basement Waterproofing Solutions
The science of structural waterproofing has come a long way over the last decade. Today, we have so many treatments for waterproofing basement walls from inside.
Crack and fissure repair, drainage and downspout upgrades, mould-repellent insulation, sump system backups, well and window drains, damp-proofing and both exterior and interior waterproofing can give you present-day peace of mind and enhance the potential resale value of your home in the future!
Get in Touch
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.
Discovering water or moisture inside your basement can be stressful. For starters, the source of the water may not be obvious.
Even if it is clear where the moisture is coming in from, there is still the issue of figuring out the best type of permanent fix.
Plus, where there is one basement leak, it is very likely there are more, and these may not be so easy to spot!
What should you do when you discover moisture or water in your basement? What type of treatment will make sure the problem doesn’t reappear again or show up in another location later on?
We will answer these and other important questions about how to fix a foundation leak from the inside—for good!
The Good News & the Bad News About Foundation Leaks
Every day, a homeowner in Canada will wander down to the basement to discover moisture. It might come in the form of general dampness, a lingering humidity in the air or a slight sheen on the walls and floors.
It might show up first as window condensation or mildew that starts to colonize a neglected chilly corner.
Or it might appear as a drip, a trickle or, worst of all, a gush of water coming into the basement from somewhere else in or around your foundation.
Here, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that you have discovered the leak. This means you can fix it before it gets even worse.
The bad news is that, just as with roof leaks, where there is one foundation leak you can see, there is likely to be another you can’t see, and that leak may continue to get worse until it finally makes its presence known with disastrous consequences.
Is Patching Up a Foundation Leak Enough?
Here, it nearly goes without saying that your newly discovered foundation leak hasn’t arrived at a convenient moment.
You probably don’t have wads of extra cash languishing about in your savings account for just such a homeowner’s repair need as this.
Even if you do have stacks of cash saved up, chances are good you weren’t planning to spend it on patching up a leaky foundation!
So if you are like most homeowners, you are keen to spend as little as possible to take care of the leak and move on to other, greener (and drier) pastures.
But will a patch do it? How can you know for sure? The answer is that opting for a simple, single-leak patch is always going to be a gamble.
When patching the leak makes sense
The argument for patching the single leak and calling it a day is when it seems fairly clear the leak is caused by a single structural issue that is unlikely to be found elsewhere.
For example, let’s say that with a bit of exterior excavation, your technician discovers a massive tree root pressing in on your foundation wall that is allowing stormwater and runoff from your lawn watering system to seep inside your home.
This is a great example of a situation you are unlikely to find elsewhere, and thus applying a single patch to the leak you’ve found may be enough to resolve the issue.
When patching a leak does not make sense
Over time, even the sturdiest foundation can begin to experience age-related wear and tear. And if the original foundation was not so sturdy or well-constructed, this is going to intensify the degradation once it begins.
A foundation that is settling incrementally due to age, wear and tear, changing soil conditions or other comprehensive factors will probably need more than a band-aid leak patch to resolve the issue.
What to Do When You Discover a Foundation Leak
If the word “panic” springs to mind here, you are definitely not alone! It is only natural to panic when you discover the underlying structure you rely on to support the rest of your home is no longer in perfect working order!
What you really need is to know the extent of the issue so you can make some decisions about what to do now, what to do later and how to budget for the essential repairs.
So the best first step is to contact a professional to do a leak assessment. With today’s modern moisture detection tools, we can identify the scope of the moisture issue and assess the existing and potential impact to your home.
Once you know what is wrong, you can make decisions about next steps. We can talk through options for repairs, including leak patches and waterproofing options.
Fix Your Foundation Leak from the Inside with Waterproofing
If you are an experienced homeowner, you may have heard about different types of foundation waterproofing services. There are two main foundation waterproofing methods: exterior waterproofing and interior waterproofing.
Exterior waterproofing can be a great option as a preventative treatment for new construction or during a major renovation.
At other times, interior waterproofing is generally regarded as the better option. Interior waterproofing doesn’t require displacement of surrounding soil, lawn and landscaping, and it can typically be done in such a way to preserve a basement space (if applicable) as a useable part of your home.
Plus (and this is the part most homeowners like the best!) interior foundation waterproofing is cheaper than exterior waterproofing.
Foundation waterproofing can fix a foundation leak from the inside either as a standalone solution or in conjunction with other repairs that may be needed (for example, mould or moisture remediation, bowed or cracked walls, walls separating, foundation settling).
Get in Touch
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664 if you suspect your foundation may have a leak! We can help.
Every residential or commercial structure has a foundation of some sort.
The type of foundation you have in your space can depend on when the structure was built, building codes in your area, the soil type and water table depth. These factors typically make the decision about what kind of foundation you get.
For first-time homeowners in particular, this can be a confusing topic, especially when you add in foundation terminology.
So what is the difference between a foundation, crawl space and basement, or is there a difference? Do different foundation types need different maintenance? What if your foundation starts leaking? Does the repair depend on the type of foundation you have? What if you don’t know what kind of foundation you have?
These are just a few of the customer questions we have fielded over the years about foundations.
In this article, learn essential foundation basics and find out how to fix a leaky foundation from the inside, regardless of what type of foundation you are trying to fix.
What Is a Foundation’s Job?
The basic job of a foundation is to support the structure above it. At its most fundamental, the foundation gives all the walls a common point of contact so they don’t separate.
What is particularly interesting here is that the original term used to describe a foundation was “footings," meaning, to give the basic structure a foothold in the ever-shifting earth.
So here, you can see that even small cracks or leaks—the simple presence of moisture that wasn’t present before—can and should be deeply concerning!
Figuring Out What Type of Foundation You Have
While you may find some natural variation between these, especially with the ongoing evolution in the building industry, essentially there are four basic types of structural foundations.
Perhaps the best-known type of foundation is the simple slab. Typically created from poured (wet) concrete, the slab type foundation seems simple at first glance. But it can be oh-so-complicated to lay properly and evenly, as any building contractor will tell you!
Slab foundations are more common in more temperate climates that are less vulnerable to the natural expansion and contraction of the earth that can arise with extreme seasonal temperature shifts.
Pier and Beam
The pier and beam type of foundation can be easily confused with the crawl space (which we will look at next here). A pier and beam (or post and beam) foundation uses inset posts with horizontal beams, usually made from concrete or wood, to stabilize the structure.
A pier and beam foundation can make it easier to make repairs by providing easy access to utility lines and pipes installed underneath. This foundation can also be smart in flood-prone areas because it elevates the structure off the ground by a foot or more.
However, this type of foundation is both pricier and more complicated to construct than the typical slab. It is best used for smaller structures built on relatively stable soil.
A crawl space type of foundation is similar to a pier and beam in that both elevate the structure off of the surface of the soil. A crawl space generally uses a higher elevation—2 feet or more. Elevation is achieved with the help of cinder blocks rather than poured concrete or wood.
This is an especially smart foundation choice in tropical climates, since a crawl space foundation also helps protect the space above in flood-prone areas. However, the catch-22 is that crawl spaces are also prone to mould and mildew because the area is slow to dry out.
The basement foundation type is quite common in colder climates such as what we have here in Canada. Many people don’t at first realize that a basement is actually a type of foundation as well as a method for adding extra usable square footage to a space!
There are different ways to construct a basement. The two most common types are poured concrete and cinder blocks (a mixture of sand, cement and cinders that are like large yet relatively lightweight bricks). A basement will have walls and then a poured slab floor in between the walls. The rest of the structure then sits on top of this.
Because of the extra planning and labour involved, basements are more expensive than other foundation types.
Basements are generally contraindicated in geographic areas where the water table is high, underground springs are present or the soil is inherently less stable. This can cause ongoing structural issues that make basements more challenging to maintain.
Foundation Fixes for Any Type of Leak
Discovering your foundation is letting in moisture can be so distressing! Where is it coming from? How much of it is there? Has standing water or persistent dampness already caused damage? How can you tell for sure?
These are questions for a professional to answer. Diagnosing the cause of moisture is the most common issue that triggers a call to our office. The customer on the other end of the phone has picked up on signs that moisture is there. They just don’t know what to do about it!
The good news is, whatever type of leak you have, there is a way to resolve it to prevent any further damage from being done.
From installing wall anchors or braces to reinforcing and stabilizing walls or installing additional piers or jacks to prop up a sagging crawl space, we have plenty of time-tested repair options to suit any issue or budget.
Fixing a Leaky Foundation from the Inside
Once your foundation has cracked to the point at which moisture is seeping in, the smartest solution can be to simply waterproof your foundation from the inside out.
Get in Touch
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664 if you suspect your foundation may have a leak!
Water that enters your basement can come from outside or inside.
However, when it comes to tracking down a basement water leak at its source and fixing the problem, things can get more complicated quickly!
The good news is, regardless of how the water is getting in, we can fix it! In this post, learn more about how to fix a leaking basement from the inside, regardless of where the water may be coming from.
Why Any Water in Your Basement Is Cause for Concern
It’s simple enough to overlook a bit of humidity here, some window condensation there, or even a slightly stale or musty odour throughout your basement space, and assume such minor issues are no cause for real concern.
But any moisture that is steadily entering your basement brings with it the potential to generate future major repairs. Mildew and mould are opportunistic: even a small amount of moisture, perfectly placed, can attract spores that colonize and spread.
Whether you are currently using your basement for storage only or it is part of your useful living space, you want it to be safe, dry and livable like the rest of your home! When it isn’t, both your home's structural integrity and its resale value are at risk.
Why Do Basements Leak?
Basements can leak for many reasons. Sometimes a leak may be related to the structure of the basement itself. Other times, a leak may develop due to soil movement or water table levels.
When the basement walls are first constructed, that fresh concrete can develop minor cracks and fissures naturally as it dries. However, over time and with pressure from other directions, these cracks may begin to let small amounts of moisture into your basement.
Soil settling around your home can also cause pressure on basement walls that triggers the development of other types of cracks. When these cracks get large enough, they may let in more moisture and threaten your home’s structural integrity.
Yet another time basements can leak is when the water table level changes due to lawn watering, storms, runoff from melting ice and snow, or underground springs. These changes can push moisture into your basement from the outside.
Where Do Basements Leak?
Basements can leak in all kinds of places! Common places include walls, floors, around windows and doors, around pipes and structural fixtures, and even in the concrete itself.
Another less obvious type of basement leak is humidity buildup that causes condensation to form on windows, doors, walls and floors.
Here in Canada, where weather can get quite extreme in winter, frozen water pipes and nonfunctional sump pumps are also a seasonal cause of basement leaks and flooding. Seasonal flooding from local rivers, streams and lakes can also present the potential for basement leaks.
Waterproofing Your Basement: Outside Versus Inside
There are two main methods for fully waterproofing a basement space. One method focuses on waterproofing the basement from the outside in. The other method focuses on waterproofing from the inside out.
Waterproofing from the outside in
Waterproofing a basement from the outside in is possible, but it is typically very invasive and expensive.
This is because the entire area surrounding the basement walls and floor will need to be excavated before any type of waterproof wall, seal or coating can be applied.
Then the waterproofing application will need to dry and cure. Next, any surrounding lawn, landscaping, appliances or fixtures that were disturbed will need to be repaired or replaced as needed.
Waterproofing from the inside out
Here at Omni Foundation Systems, we focus on providing inside-out basement and foundation waterproofing solutions. Generally speaking, it makes more sense—financially, time-wise and structurally—for homeowners and business owners to waterproof a leaking foundation or basement space from the inside out.
For treatment of existing basement leaks, often the interior furnishings (carpet, flooring, tile, furniture, etc.l) will need to be cleaned and repaired or replaced anyway, making it relatively simple to clear out and clean up the basement, which naturally prepares it for the waterproofing treatment.
For new basements, applying interior preventative waterproofing ensures there will be minimal chance of ever facing water in your basement in the future!
How to Fix a Leaking Basement from Inside
The approach we take to fix a leaking basement from the inside always depends on the source and type of leak.
We have multiple options for affordably and economically fixing a leaking basement from the inside, whether on a preventative basis or as part of the leak repair process.
For very small cracks and fissures caused by the natural drying and settling of new concrete, it is often possible to simply apply the waterproof material without doing any crack repair first.
If larger cracks or leaks are discovered, we may need to first seal up those cracks and/or shore up surrounding walls with anchor bolts before moving on to apply the waterproof material.
In the case where the main cause of a basement leak is coming from outside—surrounding groundwater is seeping in or there is an issue with water draining away from your foundation —we may recommend addressing those issues at the same time as we apply the waterproofing treatment.
In some cases where the existing sump pump system is malfunctioning or overworked, we may recommend repairing or replacing the sump pump and/or installing a backup to guard against future flood issues.
Preventative Basement Waterproofing
For our clients who are planning new construction, we strongly recommend preventative basement and foundation waterproofing from the inside!
Including this simple preventative service as a part of the new construction process reduces your chances of encountering a future basement leak from 60 percent to zero.
Get in Touch
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664 if you suspect your basement may have a leak!
“Boy, I am sure glad my basement came with an owner’s manual and maintenance instructions,” said no new homeowner, ever!
A basement can be a mysterious thing, especially if you have inherited one along with a home purchase and you have never had a basement before.
At first, the basement can seem like just a handy place to store extra stuff or convert into a playroom for your kids or teens.
But then strange things start occurring. You begin to notice an unfamiliar odour. Or your sump pump never seems to shut off. Or the walls always seem just the faintest bit moist. What is going on?
In this post, we talk about what basement waterproofing is, how it works and why it makes good sense as a preventative maintenance strategy.
Why Waterproof Your Basement?
This is a valid question. Why should you waterproof your basement, especially if you haven’t yet noticed any warning signs of potential moisture issues?
One excellent reason is that, at least to hear the American Society of Home Inspectors tell it, there is a 60 percent chance your basement will eventually leak anyway!
With statistics like these, and especially if you live in an older home, taking a preventative approach to sealing up your basement space can end up saving you a significant amount.
There are all kinds of preventative maintenance strategies to keep outside moisture such as rainfall, groundwater and runoff from melting snow and watering the lawn from finding its way into your basement.
Foundation slope, landscaping, gutters, rain barrels, sump pumps and other aides are all fine and good as part of your backup plan. But the only guaranteed way to keep water from getting into your basement is to seal it off completely.
3 Common Basement Water Issues
Water can find its way into your basement in some pretty surprising ways. However, some ways are much more common (and predictable) than others.
Sweating, runoff and groundwater seepage are three of the most common basement water issues many homeowners face. However, given that all will produce some level of moisture inside your basement, it can sometimes be quite challenging to tell one from the others without input from a professional.
You know you have an issue with sweating, sometimes referred to as condensation, when your walls, floors or windows start to look and feel as if they’ve just finished a marathon.
You may see exposed pipes start to discolour or rust. Walls may feel moist and filmy or even develop visible droplets of water. Sometimes wet patches on floors or carpets. When this has gone on for long enough, you may notice a telltale musty or “dirty gym socks” odour.
Runoff is the term used when moisture from outside your basement begins to find its way into your basement, courtesy of micro-cracks and fissures you may not even be able to see.
In winter, one of the most common causes of runoff is melting snow and ice. In summer, watering the lawn is a major cause. Storms can cause runoff all year.
One way to tell if your basement water problem is from runoff is to notice when the moisture increases. If it always seems to increase after a storm or lawn watering, suspect runoff.
In some areas where the groundwater (water table) is naturally high or naturally-occurring underground spring water is present, basement seepage can be a real source of concern.
While seepage can get worse during seasonal storms and lawn watering as well as any time there is a pipe leak, one key sign that tells you seepage may be the issue is if the water does not ever seem to completely disappear even during long dry periods.
Diagnosing the Cause for Basement Water Leaks
It’s easy enough to diagnose water in the basement. Before, your basement space was nice and dry. Now it is damp, humid, moist or even downright wet.
However, accurately diagnosing the cause of basement water leaks can take some expert sleuthing! In some cases, it may even require calling the city to inquire about ground water levels or local topography surrounding your property.
Obtaining an accurate diagnosis can be important for long-term planning purposes, including calculating your home’s potential resale value.
But in the short term, what needs to happen right away is to keep more water from damaging your basement and, potentially, your home’s structure. Basement waterproofing is the hands-down best solution to the problem of persistent moisture anywhere inside your basement.
Basement Waterproofing Options
Of course, it will never be the right moment to add “basement waterproofing” to your home maintenance budget! And truthfully, we haven’t yet had a client who was truly excited about spending their hard-earned cash on waterproofing their basement.
But it is important to know that basement waterproofing can be accomplished affordably—and doing it before a problem occurs or when the issue is still minor can be vastly more economical than having to perform major moisture-related basement or foundation repairs.
We offer a variety of options to suit different needs and budgets. Sometimes all that is required is to seal up cracks and do some strategic rerouting of your home’s existing gutter, downspout and drainage system.
Other times, adding extra insulation and repairing window seals and well drains may be the right approach to reroute incoming moisture away from your basement.
Still other times, we may recommend installing a backup system to support your existing sump pump.
Our most popular and permanent option is to waterproof the inside of your basement. Our basement waterproofing service guarantees no further moisture will be able to penetrate your basement and damage your home or possessions.
Get in Touch
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664 if you suspect your basement may have a leak.
Even the most solid house construction will develop cracks at some point in time. But there are different types and sizes of cracks, and some are more concerning than others.
Basement cracks can be tough to diagnose. Warning signs may initially be slight—the kind where you shake your head and think that maybe you’re imagining that musty odour or increasing humidity.
In this post, we teach you what you need to know about how to diagnose and fix a crack in your basement wall.
Types of Basement Wall Cracks
The first thing you need to know is that your basement walls can develop different types of cracks.
You may have just one type of crack in your basement wall or you may have all different types of cracks. Which types of cracks you'll see depends on the types of pressures your basement is experiencing and how it is constructed.
The basic types of cracks are horizontal, vertical, diagonal and stair-step.
Horizontal cracks are commonly caused by the natural shrinkage of drying concrete. These cracks can be the toughest to spot because they are often quite tiny!
The biggest risk with horizontal cracks is moisture seepage. Because they can be so difficult to spot, it is important to know other warning signs to look for. Increasing humidity, a grassy or musty odour, allergy symptoms, and formation of mildew or mould are the most common warning signs.
Vertical cracks are commonly caused when a basement wall begins to bow during or after construction. There are many reasons a wall may bow inward, including pressure from surrounding earth, especially if the crack is midway up the wall where pressure is greatest.
These cracks are typically easier to spot—they tend to be larger and will continue to spread over time. The biggest risk with vertical cracks is structural damage to your home.
Diagonal cracks can develop in several ways. Sometimes the crack will be wider at the top and narrower at the bottom. The reverse is also possible. Diagonal cracks can also develop around structures like windows and doors. If your basement is missing anchor bolts or the surrounding earth is causing pressure, these cracks may start to appear.
These cracks are typically pretty easy to spot except when they form around windows or doors and are quite small or hidden by door jambs or window sills. The biggest risk with diagonal cracks is that the structural integrity of your basement can decrease.
Stair-step cracks form for similar reasons as for diagonal cracks. But these types of cracks will only form in basements constructed using concrete blocks rather than poured concrete. As their name suggests, stair-step cracks follow the structure of the blocks, leading to a "stair-step" crack pattern.
The biggest risk with these types of cracks is, again, the structural integrity of the basement being compromised.
What to Do If You Suspect Basement Cracks
Home ownership comes with an ongoing steep learning curve. Most of us don't go into home ownership knowing exactly what steps to take when our basement wall develops a crack.
So there can be a very natural moment of panic followed by lots of questions! This is quite normal and we get these types of calls every day.
Whenever you suspect or visibly see cracks forming in your basement walls, the first step is always to do more research. You want to find out what is causing the crack. You also want to know if there are other cracks. And you want to know whether the cracks you are seeing are the type where a "watch and wait" approach is recommended or if you need to take action right now.
Have a professional come out and do this research and make a diagnosis. This way you are not wondering and worrying. You know what you are dealing with and what your options are, and you can make practical decisions.
How to Fix a Crack in Your Basement Wall
You now know that there are several types of basement cracks that can form. Some may form right away due to the natural process of drying concrete. Others may form later due to structural changes in the earth surrounding your basement. Still others may form for other reasons relating to how well your basement was constructed or the types of materials used.
The good news here is that regardless of the types of cracks you are seeing or how mild or severe they may be, they absolutely can be fixed!
The most common fixes we recommend include these:
Providing more support to your basement walls is always a good idea when there are changes due to the surrounding earth. For this reason, we often recommend installation of additional wall anchors to prevent further movement of basement walls due to outside pressures.
Basement waterproofing is the most effective tool we have found to fix cracks that may not be causing severe structural concerns but nevertheless present their own significant risks if left unaddressed.
For example, basement waterproofing can be a particularly important step to take if you have the types of hairline cracks that are permitting moisture to seep in. This can lead to mildew and mould that will literally rot your home from the inside out.
These fixes are sometimes recommended in tandem when your basement structure has developed multiple types of wall cracks.
Get in Touch
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664 if you suspect your basement may have a crack!
If you were asked what part of your home is the most important structure, what would your answer be? Many homeowners would say it is their home’s foundation.
The foundation of a home isn’t glamorous. It doesn’t get any attention at open houses or holiday parties. No one decorates it with lights or gushes to friends and neighbours about how awesome it looks.
But we sure do notice when it starts to crack, bow, sag, slope or leak! This is also typically when our phone starts ringing here at Omni Basement Systems.
Discovering a foundation repair need is stressful from a time, cost and resale value level. In this timely post, we take you on a quick tour of your home’s foundation, talking about how structural issues such as cracks, leaks and shifting can develop and then outlining our recommended solutions.
What Causes Foundation Problems
Foundation troubles are an incredibly common issue many homeowners are facing today. This especially holds true for owners of older homes.
The unpleasant truth is that no foundation will last indefinitely. As with sump pumps, HVAC systems and other essential home structures that work constantly, foundations are also likely to face leaks, cracks, degradation and other issues over time.
However, aside from simple old age, there are also other known issues that can cause your foundation to start to crack even if it is still well within the boundaries of its useful life. Here are examples of some of the most common issues we encounter:
Compromised crawl spaces
Crawl spaces, as their name suggests, provide access points to important interior home structures. They are also useful to provide extra ventilation underneath and around your home to guard against the growth of mould and mildew.
Over time, the crawl spaces themselves can begin to sag, tilt, slope or sink for a variety of reasons. This can then cause a ripple effect that leads to foundation cracks and other issues at higher levels.
It is natural for a home’s foundation to begin to settle as the years pass. However, when this settling process happens unevenly, it can cause sufficient pressure that the foundation itself begins to sag and/or crack.
What is happening with the soil that surrounds your home’s foundation will always impact your foundation in some way. Moisture-saturated soil can in time place pressure on the foundation and basement walls causing structural issues.
Warning Signs of Foundation Repair Issues
How do you know when your foundation has developed an issue? Figuring out when your foundation needs extra attention can feel like a particularly challenging game of hide and seek as you look for the telltale signs of foundation disrepair.
No foundation is free from cracks. Just the process of laying the foundation, drying and curing it can cause small cracks to form.
However, not all cracks appear conveniently in highly visible locations where you can point right to them when your service technician arrives for a diagnostic check. Sometimes cracks are hidden away under cosmetic flooring or even appear only on the outside.
It is also important to look up and out—at times, cracks caused by foundation settling or shifting will actually begin at the top of the home and work their way down toward the foundation.
Bulging, bowing, sagging, sinking or sloping
When walls or floors start bowing, sagging, bulging or sinking, this can be another warning sign the foundation needs attention. This is especially the case if walls start bowing inward (from the pressure of moisture-saturated soil outside) or if there is movement in the lowest floor in your home.
Floors that seem to slope downward toward one side of the home can be another signal from your foundation that something is wrong.
Windows and/or doors don’t fit in their frames
Whether the issue is that doors or windows no longer close easily or they won’t stay closed at all but swing right back open after you shut them, the foundation may be at least partly or fully to blame.
Whether you are seeing white powdery residue, black or brown powder, greenish slime, rusty discolouration, dark patches or some other unusual colour changes, these changes may indicate the foundation has developed leaks that are seeping through to affect your interior.
Issues like mould and mildew can be tough to spot, but their odour often gives their presence away. Dank, damp, grassy or simply malodorous—some liken the smell of a growing mould colony to a pile of sweaty socks—new unpleasant scents are another potential warning sign of foundation repair needs.
How to Fix Foundation Cracks
Once your foundation becomes compromised through leaks, cracks, mould or mildew, moisture and other causes, it isn’t going to fix itself over time. Whatever foundation issues have arisen are likely to worsen the longer you wait to tackle the repairs.
Here are some of the foundation solutions we frequently recommend for repairing a compromised foundation:
These handy anchors reinforce existing walls against exterior pressure from surrounding soil.
Interior wall braces
Interior wall braces are an alternative to wall anchors that may work better in certain circumstances.
Wall reinforcing straps
This fix is designed to prevent further foundation damage in the future by stabilizing your existing walls with carbon fiber straps.
We use two types of piers: slab piers and foundation piers. Both kinds of piers provide reinforcing stabilization in different ways from deep below your home.
Crawl space jacks can lend extra support to the beams of your crawl spaces to help stabilize sagging, sloping or bowed floors.
Get in Touch
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664 if you suspect foundation issues!
Basement leaks are among the most common structural issues homeowners can face. In a way, this makes intuitive sense, given that the basement is the lowest point within the structure of the home.
But this doesn't make it any less distressing when you discover your basement has sprung a leak! You can't seem to figure out where the water is coming from. You want to stop it ASAP. You need to figure out who to call and how you are going to pay for this unexpected home repair.
In this timely post, we walk you through the basics of how water gets into your basement and how to fix the issue.
How Water Gets Into Your Basement
Figuring out how to fix a leaky basement begins with understanding how moisture gets into your basement in the first place.
This can be a lot harder than it sounds: often, water is entering from a place hidden behind walls, floors or ceilings, and you can't see the source of the leak. This is frustrating because if you can't find the source of the leak, you can't stop it.
Here are some of the most common routes water takes to enter your basement:
Leaking pipes can be particularly challenging to diagnose since most home piping is located in truly inaccessible areas. But leaking pipes are also some of the most common culprits of water leaks in the basement. Canada's extreme winter weather is notorious for causing frozen pipes, which can also lead to more serious cracks and water leaks.
If your home is older, it is quite normal that seals around windows and doors degrade or crack over time. These cracks might be quite tiny, but they can still allow moisture to seep into your basement space.
An older sump pump that is being asked to pull double duty moving excess water outside your basement may in time begin to fall down on the job. This may indicate your sump pump has reached the end of its useful life. But if you inherited the sump pump along with your home purchase and you don't have its maintenance records, you may just need to schedule routine cleaning and a tune-up to get your sump pump working again.
The soil around your home's foundation can collect quite a bit of moisture after heavy rainfall. This typically isn't a major source of concern so long as your home's drainage structures are properly placed and functioning. A number of factors can cause drainage issues, from clogged gutters and blocked downspouts to inadequate (or missing) slope.
One particularly stealthy source of basement water is condensation that forms due to overly high humidity levels. Basements, like attics and crawl spaces, can be more vulnerable to seasonal humidity shifts.
Warning Signs of Basement Leaks
Aside from the obvious warning sign—standing water in your basement—you can keep an eye out for these additional key warning signs that your basement has a leak somewhere.
Dank, grassy, damp, sweaty, stale: these are just some of the terms used to describe the telltale odour produced by mildew and mould as it grows.
White powdery deposits
These deposits are called "efflorescence" and are caused when water seeps in and evaporates, leaving behind mineral deposits.
Rusty or brown stains, darker patches and greenish or black areas on floors or walls are all potential signs of water damage due to basement leaks.
Sump pump never shuts off
A continuously running sump pump can indicate a constant effort to move water out of your basement space.
Cracks or flaking
Cracks in walls or floors and flaking paint can indicate degradation caused by slow leaks and water seepage as well as condensation/humidity.
First Steps to Fix a Leaking Basement
It just makes sense that your first step in fixing a leaky basement is to accurately diagnose the source and extent of the leak(s). Typically this is a job for the pros: it can require a detailed knowledge of the "behind the scenes" of your home to know what to look for and how to access it.
Once the cause and scope are identified, it is time to solve the leak. In many instances, permanently resolving the leak requires combining more than one approach.
Common solutions to fix a leaking basement can include the following:
Crack repair and wall anchors can stop current leaks and shore up weak areas of your basement walls and flooring.
Back-up sump system
Many homeowners today are installing backup sump systems to support an aging or overtaxed primary sump pump.
Window and well drains
Aging, rusting window and well drains can let unwelcome water into your basement. Replacement is the most common fix.
Installing the right type of insulation can go a long way toward guarding against mould, mildew, humidity and condensation collecting in your basement.
Extensions can enhance any existing home drainage system to be sure water does not pool around your home and seep into your basement.
Drainage system repair or replacement
Drainage systems are vulnerable to age-related wear and tear. Repairs or a full replacement when that time comes can guard against future basement leaks.
Full basement waterproofing is one of our most popular and requested repair options because it is both a treatment and a permanent solution. To date, we have installed more than a thousand basement waterproofing systems.
Get in Touch
Do you need help protecting your home against leaks, cracks and damage? Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.