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Complete Basement Waterproofing Guide

The Complete Guide
to Basement Waterproofing

Everything you Need to Know

Your basement is full of potential! You can add a family den, a spare bedroom, or an entertainment center. You can even use it for storage. But you can't do any of these things if your basement is wet! Basement water means you can't use an entire floor of your home; however, basement waterproofing is the solution. Unfortunately, waterproofing your basement can seem overwhelming, so we are creating the complete guide to basement waterproofing, answering every question you have about waterproofing. You will learn how you can keep your basement permanently safe and dry.

Basement Waterproofing Guide

Chapter 1: Why is There Water in My Basement?

Before jumping straight to the waterproofing process, you first need to understand how water gets into your basement.  Once you know where basement water comes from, you will better understand how basement waterproofing keeps it out.

Moisture in Basements is Common

If you have a wet basement, you are not alone. According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, over 60 percent of basements have a moisture problem. This percentage is higher in older homes, as many were built with old-school, ineffective waterproofing methods. But even with new homes, inexperienced contractors fail to properly waterproof foundations. As a result, most new homes will develop a basement water leak within ten to fifteen years!

Thankfully, your wet basement problems can be fixed. A properly installed basement waterproofing solution can keep your basement nice and dry permanently.

Over 60% of basements have a moisture problem!

Symptoms of Basement Water Problems

If you already have water pooling on your basement floor, you need to call Blue Umbrella Waterproofing immediately so we can fix the problem before it causes any severe damage. If instead, you are worried about basement moisture but aren't sure if you have any yet, there are critical early warning signs that you can keep an eye out for. Symptoms that you have a growing basement moisture problem include

  • Mold growth or the smell of mildew in your basement
  • Rotting wood on the floor, walls, or on furniture in your basement
  • Buckling or sagging in the floors above your basement
  • Lifting or uneven tiles in the floors above your basement
  • Rust on nails or screws in the basement walls
  • Rust on the bottom of metal appliances in your basement

If you have any of these issues, you can chat with one of Blue Umbrella's basement specialists to check if you have anything to worry about. Each of these issues indicates water in your basement, but the question remains, where is the water coming from?

Sources of Basement Water

Basement water comes from a few different places, including interior sources, the concrete of your foundation, humid outside air, and, most commonly, rainwater. Let's break down each of these in turn.

  • Water Heater Leak

    Interior Moisture Sources

    Interior basement moisture issues include humidifiers or unvented dryers. While these machines won't create a puddle on the floor, they create a warm, humid basement where mold will grow, and rot will occur. Additionally, if your basement is finished and has a shower or cooking area, that can also cause moisture buildup in your basement.

  • Water Leaking Through Concrete

    Your Concrete Foundation

    If you live in a new home, there is moisture in your concrete foundation. Concrete is porous, and even though the moisture near the surface evaporates as the concrete cures, additional moisture is trapped within the concrete. Over time, the trapped moisture can make its way up through the concrete and into your basement!

  • Humid Outside Air

    Humid, Outside Air

    Leaky or open basement windows can be an issue. Humid outside air that passes through your basement windows brings moisture that will leave condensation on your basement floors or walls. Make sure your basement windows remain tightly closed. 

  • Heavy Rain ater

    Rain & Groundwater

    But, of all the sources of basement water, the most common and problematic source of basement water is rain and groundwater that makes its way into your home. Rain and groundwater sneak into your basement because of hydrostatic pressure and the clay bowl effect.

  • Water Heater Leak

    Interior Moisture Sources

    Interior basement moisture issues include humidifiers or unvented dryers. While these machines won't create a puddle on the floor, they create a warm, humid basement where mold will grow, and rot will occur. Additionally, if your basement is finished and has a shower or cooking area, that can also cause moisture buildup in your basement.

  • Water Leaking Through Concrete

    Your Concrete Foundation

    If you live in a new home, there is moisture in your concrete foundation. Concrete is porous, and even though the moisture near the surface evaporates as the concrete cures, additional moisture is trapped within the concrete. Over time, the trapped moisture can make its way up through the concrete and into your basement!

  • Humid Outside Air

    Humid, Outside Air

    Leaky or open basement windows can be an issue. Humid outside air that passes through your basement windows brings moisture that will leave condensation on your basement floors or walls. Make sure your basement windows remain tightly closed. 

  • Heavy Rain ater

    Rain & Groundwater

    But, of all the sources of basement water, the most common and problematic source of basement water is rain and groundwater that makes its way into your home. Rain and groundwater sneak into your basement because of hydrostatic pressure and the clay bowl effect.

The Clay Bowl Effect & Hydrostatic Pressure

The unfortunate combination of the clay bowl effect collecting water around your foundation and hydrostatic pressure causing the water to seep through your foundation are what allow rain and groundwater to get into your basement.


What is the Clay Bowl Effect?

Over time, as soil sits, it becomes denser. When your home was built, this dense soil was dug out of the ground, creating a large hole where your home's foundation and the basement were built. After your basement was finished, any extra space outside your foundation walls was filled with some of the dug-up soil. But this dug-up soil, called backfill, is looser and more porous than the original dense soil. So when it rains, the rainwater seeps into the porous soil and not into the more dense soil! This means the water seeps into the ground surrounding your home's foundation, up against your basement walls, creating the "clay bowl effect." Now, this wouldn't be too much of a problem if it weren't for hydrostatic pressure.


What is Hydrostatic Pressure?

Hydrostatic pressure simply means that water is heavy and pushes outwards in all directions. As water seeps into the soil around your foundation (the clay bowl effect), the hydrostatic pressure builds up as the water looks for someplace to go. As the water presses up against your foundation, it makes its way into any small cracks it can find, or even forms new ones, and eventually seeps into your basement!

Why is Rainwater Getting Into My Basement?

The Clay Bowl effect and hydrostatic pressure can be enough for water to get into your basement, but there are also other issues that can make the problem even worse. Here are some to watch out for.

  • Pooled water in the yard

    Poorly Graded Soil

    Grading is the slope of the soil around your basement. Correctly graded soil slopes away from your home and other buildings, so any water travels downward away from your basement. But, if the yard around your home's foundation isn't graded properly, the water may be collecting around your home’s foundation. The collected water will seep into the ground and, due to hydrostatic pressure, eventually through your foundation walls and into your basement!

  • Overflowing gutters

    Missing or Improperly Installed Rain Gutters

    Just like grading your soil directs water away from your foundation, rain gutters do the same. Well, at least they should. Correctly installed gutters collect rainfall and transport it away from your home via a downspout and drainage system. But poorly installed gutters dump the water straight down into the soil surrounding your basement, which, you guessed it, eventually ends up in your basement. If you don't have any gutters, the rain drips from your roof directly onto the soil around your foundation, leading to the same outcome, a wet basement.

  • Window well

    Poorly Installed Window Wells and Covers

    If you have basement windows, especially egress windows, you need to make sure that they are sealed when not in use. Unsealed or poorly installed basement windows leave cracks for water to leak in from the outside, getting your basement wet.

  • Basement wall crack

    Basement Floor and Wall Cracks

    As the water in the soil presses up against your home's foundation, it searches for any entry. Unfortunately, cracks in your basement walls or floors are exactly what it's looking for. The water squeezes through these cracks, forcing its way into your basement.

  • Damaged sump pump

    A Failing Waterproofing System

    A poorly installed or maintained basement waterproofing system can lead to basement water. If your basement waterproofing system was improperly installed, it won't function properly and will fail to remove basement water. Additionally, properly installed but poorly maintained waterproofing systems can fail as the sump pump wears out or french drains clog, resulting in your basement getting wet.

  • Pooled water in the yard

    Poorly Graded Soil

    Grading is the slope of the soil around your basement. Correctly graded soil slopes away from your home and other buildings, so any water travels downward away from your basement. But, if the yard around your home's foundation isn't graded properly, the water may be collecting around your home’s foundation. The collected water will seep into the ground and, due to hydrostatic pressure, eventually through your foundation walls and into your basement!

  • Overflowing gutters

    Missing or Improperly Installed Rain Gutters

    Just like grading your soil directs water away from your foundation, rain gutters do the same. Well, at least they should. Correctly installed gutters collect rainfall and transport it away from your home via a downspout and drainage system. But poorly installed gutters dump the water straight down into the soil surrounding your basement, which, you guessed it, eventually ends up in your basement. If you don't have any gutters, the rain drips from your roof directly onto the soil around your foundation, leading to the same outcome, a wet basement.

  • Window well

    Poorly Installed Window Wells and Covers

    If you have basement windows, especially egress windows, you need to make sure that they are sealed when not in use. Unsealed or poorly installed basement windows leave cracks for water to leak in from the outside, getting your basement wet.

  • Basement wall crack

    Basement Floor and Wall Cracks

    As the water in the soil presses up against your home's foundation, it searches for any entry. Unfortunately, cracks in your basement walls or floors are exactly what it's looking for. The water squeezes through these cracks, forcing its way into your basement.

  • Damaged sump pump

    A Failing Waterproofing System

    A poorly installed or maintained basement waterproofing system can lead to basement water. If your basement waterproofing system was improperly installed, it won't function properly and will fail to remove basement water. Additionally, properly installed but poorly maintained waterproofing systems can fail as the sump pump wears out or french drains clog, resulting in your basement getting wet.

You Have a Wet Basement, But Do You Need Waterproofing?

That pretty much covers why your basement might be getting wet. While wet basements are common, there are solutions, like basement waterproofing systems installed by Blue Umbrella. But before we get to basement waterproofing, the next big question is, why does it matter if you have a wet basement? Why do you need basement waterproofing? The answer will be covered in the next chapter.

Ready to Waterproof Your Basement?

Keep your NJ home protected by contacting us today to schedule a free basement inspection.

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