Common Questions Homeowners Ask About Basement Waterproofing
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Frequently Asked Questions About Basement Waterproofing

What could be causing my basement to be damp, musty or leaky?

There are several common causes of moisture or water infiltration. Often, naturally occurring hydrostatic and lateral pressure can force water into the basement from underneath the footings or against the foundation walls, causing damage and creating leaks. Heavy rainfall or snow melt can cause the water table to rise and increase pressure. Soil composition can affect drainage; sand and loam drain well, while clay drains slowly and absorbs water.

Installing drain tile or a French drain system can redirect ground water away from the foundation to alleviate pressure. Unfortunately, drainage systems that are clogged, deteriorated, broken or improperly installed, can also back-up and cause basement flooding.

Poorly maintained windows and window wells can also allow moisture seepage. Weather-stripping and caulking around the window frame may be missing or deteriorated. Window wells can accumulate water if debris blocks the drain and may overflow into the basement.

What's the difference between interior and exterior drain tile, and which is better?

Interior drain tile is installed below the concrete floor around the perimeter of the basement. It is designed to redirect water through the use of a sump pump once it enters the home. This approach doesn't stop water from entering the building and can lead to foundation erosion.

Exterior drainage systems are very effective in keeping water absorbed from heavy rains, overflowing gutters and other sources away from your foundation and from leaking into your home. PVC pipes are installed in trenches at footing level around the outside perimeter of your home and water will weep slowly into the gravel below. Exterior systems are more effective and generally recommended over interior methods.

What is a trenchless drain system and what are the advantages compared to a typical trench system?

As the name implies, a trenchless repair requires minimal excavation. An entry point and exit point are dug, existing pipe is drilled away, and a new High Density Polyethylene pipe is simultaneously put in its place.

There are many advantages of utilizing this system over the common trench system: Landscape and yard damage is kept to a minimum, work can be completed faster, new pipes won't corrode or rust, and the process is less expensive. We'll use the trenchless system wherever possible.

Why am I finding a white chalky substance on my basement walls? Is it dangerous?

Crystaline or salt deposits may appear on the surface of your concrete foundation walls and most often a whitish color. Efflorescence, or "whiskers," is often a seasonal problem caused by humidity and groundwater. Porous concrete materials can be susceptible to water movement through channels in the wall. When the water reaches the surface, the water evaporates and leaves white salt deposits behind. Slow water evaporation during high-humidity seasons provides an increased risk of whisker growth.

These water-soluble salts are fairly innocuous and do not present a health concern. Because of its unsightly appearance, you may want to remove efflorescence residue with a stiff brush or wash it off with water. This problem may increase and decrease during the change of seasons but should disappear entirely within three years.

What can be causing brown stains on my walls, and will it hurt my foundation?

Brown stains on poured concrete or block walls is a sign of acid damage. This generally signals that the soil around your home is clay, which is very acidic. As water travels though your porous concrete wall, it draws the acidity with it. The acid is filtered through the concrete and allows clean water to enter your basement. The brown stains are difficult to remove and they may lead to deterioration of the lower basement wall.

Is waterproofing my basement going to cost a lot?

There are many levels of waterproofing available and pricing is dependent on the type of problems that exist. When researching or obtaining estimates for waterproofing, consideration should be given to the complexity of your problem, whether the work is being done inside or outside your home, if excavation is required, what type of access is available to the site, the type of materials needed (such as drain tile, membrane, sump pump, etc.) and any concrete or landscape needs. Costs can range anywhere from a several hundred dollars to several thousand. While this may difficult to absorb, the money you spend to keep your basement dry will not only protect your investment but also increase the market value of your home. Real estate professionals indicate that a home with documented and warrantied waterproofing will sell faster and for a higher price than those without this protection. A free evaluation and estimate from one of our Royal Work professionals will guide you to the best and most cost-effective solution to your waterproofing problems.

When should I start worrying about foundation cracks?

There are many types of cracks that can appear in your foundation walls or concrete floor. Shrinkage and settlement cracks are the most common and may signal damage. The size, shape and location of the crack will determine if a crack needs remediation or no action at all. A general rule of thumb indicates that shrinkage cracks less than 1/16-inch wide may be a source of water entry but will not compromise the structural integrity of the foundation. Settlement cracks are more complex and warrant further investigation and possibly guidance from a professional waterproofing company.

For more information on foundation cracks and when to start worrying read our Complete Homeowner’s Guide To Foundation Cracks

What credentials do you have to ensure I’ll be satisfied with your work?

As a Better Business Bureau accredited business with an A Rating, you can feel confident we meet their accreditation standards and always make an effort to resolve any customer complaints quickly and satisfactorily.

We have also received over 120 favorable HomeStars reviews from satisfied customers. HomeStars utilizes a collective knowledge-base that assists homeowners in finding reputable renovation, repair and retail companies. Reviews are collected based on good and bad home improvement experiences. Royal Work has proudly earned a 10-out-of-10 on most every listing.

What type of basement waterproofing is most effective, interior or exterior?

Exterior waterproofing methods are your best defense against water infiltration. Gutters and downspouts collect and direct water away from your home. While a waterproof membrane will seal out moisture and protect the concrete from cracking and leaking. Used in conjunction with a French drain system, the exterior waterproofing package will keep your basement dry and problem-free.

Interior waterproofing is made up of pipes and drains that re-routes water to a sump pump and safely outside. Crack sealing products and waterproof paints can also help eliminate moisture and humidity from accumulating in your home. Interior systems can reduce the risk of flooding, cost less than exterior waterproofing systems, but without exterior systems in place, may eventually break down.

Is there a way to excavate without destroying my yard, driveway and sidewalk?

With exterior waterproofing methods requiring excavation to a depth of 6 to 8 feet to expose the wall, plantings and landscaping must be relocated. We'll take a comprehensive approach to the work required and will prepare a plan to minimize damage to your property. If excavation using machinery is impossible we will offer option digging by hands. Read our clients' feedback about it on our HomeStars review page.


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