Chattanooga, let’s start by clearing up a common misconception. To contractors, waterproofing is not the complete elimination of water. People generally think of it like waterproofing a pair of leather boots, applying a coating that sheds water. This is a good method for footwear, but your foundation is not as simple to treat as your boots.
Contractors in the Chattanooga & North Georgia areas aren’t applying a coating to the inside of your basement walls or floor; and if we did, that wouldn’t solve your problem for very long. It would only create different problems for you.
FYI: This is why we do not recommend using any of the waterproofing paints that are currently flooding the market. These only block the water from getting into your basement and can hold the water inside your foundation. They don’t do anything to remove the water from your foundation. By blocking evaporation, waterproofing paints can contribute to building hydrostatic pressure against your foundation and lead to potential deterioration.
Concrete, either in poured or block form, is a porous material. Water can -and will- seep from the soil into your foundation. If water is allowed to penetrate into your basement in a controlled fashion, a waterproofing system will contain and remove it from the basement.
However, if you have paint over the inside of your basement walls, or apply another type of water stopping material… your foundation will be forced to hold onto the water that seeps into it. This is not what you want. Water left sitting in the walls for long periods of time can cause them to crack, decay, crumble, deteriorate and mold.
By the time your waterproofing paint or sealant has been compromised enough for you to see this problem, it has become a BIG problem. If the concrete is saturated enough that paint is flaking off, your foundation is most likely starting to deteriorate.
This picture was taken by an Acculevel project manager on a routine free estimate appointment. Water damage and mold growth are abundant in this corner.
So, if waterproofing isn’t the elimination of water in your basement, what is it?
Waterproofing is the control and management of water that enters your home. This method uses drainage channels that are installed along the inside perimeter of your basement walls. (Drainage channels are somewhat like pipes that go under the concrete floor.)
These channels collect the water and direct it to a hole dug in the floor, called the sump pump pit. The sump pump then expels it out of your home, usually 10-20 feet away from your foundation.
FYI: A Sump pump is a machine used to move water out of your basement. It detects when water collects in the pit, and the pump kicks on to expel the water. The pump requires a standard voltage electrical outlet.
This method moves the water away from a point where it is pressing against your foundation and contributing to its decay. When homeowners first investigate waterproofing, they may view it simply as the method for removing the water from their basement. But through research, you will realize that alleviating the pressure that water generates against your foundation is also a critical part of this process. This pressure is called hydrostatic pressure, and we dive into that more here.
If your goal is to have a completely dry basement, one that can be finished and used as quality living space, you should consider encapsulation. We discuss that topic later in this guide.