Consumer Tips - Foundation and Basement Waterproofing

A leaky basement can indicate a serious problem with the foundation and repair companies sell fixes that are sometimes complex and expensive. However, most of the time leaky basements can be inexpensively fixed by homeowners simply by adding dirt around the house and adjusting the gutters to keep water away from the foundation.

Here are some steps to take before you authorize anyone to make major repairs:


  • Check the gutters. Most water around a foundation comes from the roof. Make sure gutters are clean and connected and the downspouts drain six to ten feet from the house.
  • Ground must slope away from the house. Dirt settles and you need to add more around the foundation every few years. Keep it at least four inches below the siding.
  • Shrubs and trees should be planted about six feet from the foundation.
  • Caulk cracks or crevices on the outside of the house particularly where two materials touch, such as between a brick fireplace and the siding of the house.
  • Hairline cracks in basement floors are common and usually do not require attention.
  • Cracks in basement walls usually don’t need to be fixed unless water seeps through them. If so, they should be repaired from the inside and the outside.
  • An outside drainage system may be needed. It’s usually a plastic pipe placed in a trench on the outside of the foundation to collect water and drain it away. If you already have such a system, be sure the ends of the pipe are open and clear.
  • A sump pump may also be needed in the basement floor. Water drains in and is pumped outside.
  • If major work is required, consider hiring a consultant or an engineer for advice before you select a contractor to do the work.

Further Information
National Association of Waterproofing and Structural RepairContractors

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