January 03, 2022
Homes with basements in Austin, Texas are a rarity. That’s because basements here are commonly afflicted with moisture problems. The region’s water table is quite close to the surface of the ground, meaning that water can easily surround any submerged structure. In addition, there are many natural springs that run north to south along the centerline through the area, creating even more pockets of moisture density.
Exacerbating the issue is the area’s vulnerability to flooding. Water easily saturates the ground here, so when the heavy rains come, it rapidly swells up and can penetrate basement walls.
If you’re a local who owns a home with a basement, you’re probably all too familiar with the complications that can arise from these factors. And you’ve likely found that you’re in need of some serious basement waterproofing.
Below, we walk through all the basics of waterproofing your basement and what you should expect when recruiting the help of professionals.
If you don’t use your basement much, it can be easy to ignore problems for quite a while. But this can create some serious issues that affect the rest of your home. Having a chronically wet basement can cause cracks to develop in the walls and floor, giving even more opportunity for water to leak in. This structural instability can also compromise that of the upper levels in your home.
Excess humidity abounds in wet basements, creating a fertile breeding ground for mold, which can pose a great danger to your household’s health and wellness. People who live in homes infested with mold often report troubling symptoms, including respiratory problems, burning eyes, disorientation, fatigue, skin rashes, headaches, and feeling generally unwell. Severe mold exposure can cause toxic shock.
When mold takes over your home, the affected materials may need to be completely removed and replaced. If that’s necessary in your case, you may be looking at some major renovation expenses.
When you hire a professional basement waterproofing contractor, there are a number of waterproofing treatments that will likely be on the table. They will be able to determine what combination will best address your issues.
Basements that suffer abundant moisture were often built without proper soil drainage systems in place. This is commonly seen in Austin’s older homes, which were built before modern drainage techniques became standard. Building drainage around an existing basement will require digging out the soil and replacing it with gravel.
Drainage can also be built into the interior of your basement, which may be necessary if it’s prone to flooding. This may be done by drilling weep holes into the foundation, or installing track drainage. The particular approach chosen by your contractor will depend on your foundation’s specific features and whether or not your basement is vulnerable everywhere, or just in distinct areas.
You’ll need to be sure that your drainage system also addresses all the basement’s window wells. These are often critical points for water collection and leaks. Adequate drainage will usually entail installing gravel beneath the wells, in addition to sloping well covers.
Sump pumps are an essential part of drainage infrastructure for basements that accrue standing water. These machines will pump all infiltrating water out. If you already have one and it’s not doing its job, that may be because it reached the end of its lifespan. Sump pumps are typically only functional for about a decade, so you might need to replace it more than once during the time you live in your home.
Dehumidifiers & Air Filters
Combatting the heavy humidity of a wet basement will often require setting up dehumidifiers. These machines will pull extra moisture out of the air and restore normal conditions to your basement.
Air filters can be a prudent installation as well, since they can remove harmful particles of mold and allergens from the air. They will also be effective at removing musty odors.
Sealants & Vapor Barriers
Before adding drywall or paneling during the finishing process, you’ll need to apply a waterproof sealant and add a vapor barrier to the interiors of the walls and floors.
Sealants are applied much like paint, and will go on before you install the vapor barrier. At this point, the barrier’s film sheets are placed over insulation and studwork. Both of these treatments form a shield against moisture that may be penetrating from the surrounding ground. Having them in place will prevent the damp from permeating further into your basement.
Moisture-Resistant Finishing Materials
Once your basement is ready for finishing, you’ll need to make sure that you install materials that can stand up to the damp. Water-resistant drywall panels are available, as well as paint. It’s recommended to choose water-resistant flooring and subflooring materials as well, for added protection in case water ever again makes its way in.
Because the basement structure is a key support for the rest of your home, special care must be taken to preserve its integrity and durability. The right contractor for your basement waterproofing project must therefore be an expert in Austin foundation work.
Here at Douglas Foundation Solutions, we’ve built a reputation as local authorities on building and repairing high-performing basement foundations. Our decades of experience ensure that every basement we tackle is safeguarded against Austin’s incessant groundwater swells, keeping homes dry, safe, and stable.
If you’d like an expert inspection of your basement, please contact us today. We’ll send one of our pros out ASAP to do a full assessment of your wet basement problems and waterproofing needs.