Soil is built up against the foundation,
a 3' wide sheet of plastic is adhered to the wall and covered with bark
|Skill Level: 1 (Very
||Time Taken: 2½ Hours
There are many causes of foundation leaks. Some
repairs can be extremely expensive, some can be quick and cheap. It makes sense
to try the cheap-and-easy repairs first, to see if they work, before digging
into the heavy stuff.
Basement leak remedies can take
two basic forms:
- 1. Keeping water away from the foundation.
- 2. Ensuring a water-tight seal all around the foundation.
Generally, solutions that fall into category #1 are easier and
cheaper. These could be:
- Make sure the soil is properly graded away from the
- Deter water from entering the soil next to the house by
covering the ground with a water-tight barrier, such as plastic, or soil
with a high clay content.
- Escort the water away from the foundation area with a
simple system of drain pipes.
- Install rain gutters and ensure that the downspouts are
directed well away from the foundation.
The solutions from category #2 would include excavating the
soil around the house and:
- Filling any cracks in the foundation with hydraulic
- Repairing loose or poorly finished mortar joints in
concrete block foundations.
- Coating the foundation with a sealant, such as tar, Thoro-Seal
(a cement-based product), or a bituminous membrane like Vycor Ice and Water
But the house in this article will
not likely need any major surgery, since there was a visible "weak
spot" in the soil grading.
|The soil around the front of the house was
either level or had a slight slope towards the foundation. Since the soil
was sandy, the foundation rarely leaked. But when the snow melted in the
springtime, there were a few small wet spots inside the foundation, just
below this point.
||I wrapped burlap around some of the shrubs to
keep them out of the way.
|I shoveled sand against the foundation. I
would have used soil with some clay content, but I had no source for the
small quantity needed. I used about 14 cubic feet of fill, to create a
wedge-shaped berm, about 8" deep by 24" across, and 21 feet
long. The slope of the soil is a bit steeper than necessary, but it will
pack down over time.
||I covered the sand with a 3 foot wide sheet
of 4 mil black plastic. I used scissors and a knife to cut the plastic
around the trees and shrubs. I sprinkled a little sand on the plastic to
keep the wind from blowing it around.
|Then I applied some butyl caulking to the
back edge of the plastic...
||... and stuck the plastic to the wall. (I
cleaned the cement blocks first with a little whisk broom.) Butyl caulking
stays flexible for years, and sticks well to concrete.
|The homeowners bought some shredded cedar
bark to cover the plastic. We applied a layer about 3" deep.
||All done. That was too easy. Next spring
we'll know if it works.
If the basement still leaks, (and we're confident it won't) we'll proceed to
digging a shallow trench and installing some 4" PVC drain pipes, just
in front of the new berm.
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