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A basement can be a fantastic feature of your home. It can be used in a multitude of ways, and converted as a games room, kids’ play room, and even a self-contained guest apartment. But basements are also prone to dampness. This can cause a musty smell, and lead to the need to continually remove health hazardous mold. Eventually, that promising space becomes unusable.

In this post, I’ll explain the options open to you to waterproof your basement walls and return your basement to the incredible space it once promised to be.

Figure out what’s causing the dampness in your basement

The first thing to discover is why your basement walls are wet. Is it a leak, or is it condensation? The easiest way to figure this out is to tape a square of aluminum foil to the wall and leave in place for 24 hours. If the resulting condensation is on the outside of the foil, you have an internal humidity problem, which can be corrected using a dehumidifier and by ensuring that your basement remains well ventilated.

If the condensation is on the inside of the foil, then you have an issue with the external wall of the basement. To correct this, you will need to waterproof your basement walls – either internally or externally.

How to waterproof your basement walls on the inside

There are three types of interior waterproofing that you can use. Before you do so, you’ll need to ensure that all cracks and gaps are filled and sealed with polyurethane masonry caulk or an epoxy filler.

The different types of waterproofing will be used for different situations:

  1. Concrete waterproofing coatings cannot be used on previously painted walls. Similar to cement, this type of coating dries and sticks to concrete walls.
  2. Another coating only suitable for previously untreated walls is a silicate-based sealer. This soaks into the wall, reacting with brick and concrete to form a hard surface. You will probably need to apply at least two coats, and you can paint over the sealed surface.
  3. Waterproof paint can be used in basements where there is only slight damp. You paint it on thicker than you would normal wall paint, so you’ll need about four times more waterproof paint than you would usually use when decorating a wall. Once dried, you can paint over with normal wall paint.

How to waterproof exterior basement walls

For the worst basement dampness problems, the best way to waterproof a basement is also the most expensive: comprehensive exterior waterproofing. To do this:

  1. Excavate around the foundation walls.
  2. Apply a waterproof membrane.
  3. Top the membrane with drainage panels.
  4. Build a French drain at the base of the foundation, to lead water away from your property.

If you have dampness in your basement which is stopping you using it as you want, your best course of action is to call the experts. The sooner you contact Porter's Cleaning, the easier and cheaper the solution to your problems will be. We’ll assess the problem, and tell you what course of action is likely to provide the most cost-effective and long-lasting solution.

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