The beauty of a fresh blanket of new-fallen snow can transform a city street or a country hillside into a winter wonderland. The snowflakes drifting from the sky and landing silently on treetops and rooftops can give us a peaceful feeling as we take in the scene. But beware the dangers that these snowfalls can bring with them. Not all snowfalls are peaceful, and the aftermath of a foot of snow can be a ton of water damage and basement disaster.
Whether it’s a damp, musty smell that meets you each time you enter your basement or the pooling water in your back yard whenever it rains, you are considering basement waterproofing for a reason. What are the different waterproofing options and which is better when it comes to interior vs exterior waterproofing? Read on to learn more about these two options of waterproofing and which one, or a combination of the two, is right for your home.
There may be a few more warm days sprinkled here and there, but winter will be here before you can say, “Jack Frost.” Take advantage of the weather now and winterize crawl spaces and basements before the last leaves fall and snow starts accumulating.
Rain, rain, go away… away from your home’s foundation that is! While rain is important for crops, lawns, trees and flowers, it is just as important to keep rain away from entering your basement and ruining your home’s foundation.
The best way to prevent water damage is to inspect and correct seemingly small issues before they become big issues. One important way to do this is to rainproof your home. Let’s look at some easy rain water damage prevention tips.
Weather can be unpredictable. One moment it’s snowing, the next it feels like spring. While many long for warmer temperatures throughout the bulk of winter, it’s important to appreciate the risk that rapid rises in temperature can cause to your home. Your joy of the warm, sunny day may evaporate the moment you notice the snowmelt flooding your basement.
Before you tackle your mold problem, you’ll want to wear some protective gear to prevent illness. Not all mold is inherently dangerous, but identifying which type of mold you have is usually more difficult than simply looking at it. Inhaling mold spores can cause anything from simple allergic responses to severe sickness – for you or your pets.
Your mold-busting gear should include:
- Breathing mask
- Goggles or protective eyewear
- Waterproof gloves
All of these will help you prevent unnecessary contact with your mold. In addition to protective equipment, we recommend opening windows and improved ventilation as you will be working with chemical cleaners.
How to Clean Mold off Walls
Before you clean the mold off your walls, make sure you know what type of wall you’ll be cleaning. You don’t want to cause more damage, and how you clean drywall will be different than how you clean a concrete wall:
Cleaning Mold Off Concrete or Brick Walls
If mold appears on concrete or brick walls, it’s very simple to clean it off, though it might be an indicator of a crack in your foundation. You will need to use a cleaning agent that is antimicrobial, which you can purchase at almost any hardware store or even make yourself. Once you’ve put on your protective equipment, simply scrub the moldy surface with the cleaner until it’s completely wiped away. Some specialized cleaners will have additional instructions – if you’re purchasing a cleaner from the store, make sure to follow its directions closely.
One way to reduce your chances of dealing with moisture problems in your stone or brick basement is DuraShield. These panels create a barrier against moisture, insulating your basement walls and giving it a finished look with no maintenance required.
Cleaning Mold Off Painted Walls
Mold is common in rooms that have a lot of moisture – like your bathroom or basement. Ideally, these rooms should be painted with water-resistant “wash-and-wear” type paint that will prevent mold from growing deeper than the surface. It also makes it easier to clean when you do spot growing mold.
If you plan to use store-bought mold remover, make sure the formula is mild enough to minimize any damage to your paint. It’s possible, based on the severity of the mold, that you may have to repaint or even replace part of the wall. With the mold remover and a rag or towel, spray the affected area and scrub the mold. You may have to do this multiple times. Afterwards, spray water on the area and wipe it with a new towel or rag to clear the surface of any remaining mold remover.
Cleaning Mold Off Unsealed Drywall
Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to clean mold off unsealed drywall. Drywall is porous, which means the mold may be visible on the surface, but it’s also growing inside the pores. Without water-resistant paint, it’s very likely that by the time you notice the mold, it’s already inside the drywall too. You can look for mold by cutting inspections holes into the drywall. Remove the insulation and use a mirror to inspect the other side of the drywall.
If mold is growing on the insulation, it will need to be removed and replaced. Likewise, if you find that your drywall has mold beneath the surface, you will need to remove and replace it as well.
Unless you’re trained in mold remediation, the most you can do is temporarily reduce the overall mold growth by using a mold removing cleaner and scrubbing the visible mold away. You will need to contact your local mold experts for an inspection to discover the full scope of your mold damage. Even if you clean away all the mold, if it still has a source and some mold remains, it will continue to grow back.
Sometimes with porous surfaces, you will have trace amounts of mold that you can’t remove. If that’s the case, your only option may be mold encapsulation. To encapsulate mold, purchase a mold sealant and apply it to the mold after you’ve done everything to clean and scrub it away. This should be used as a last resort if the mold can’t be removed and the surface the mold is on cannot be replaced. If you think you need to do this, you should first contact a mold professional to make sure you don’t risk making the problem worse.
It’s often surfaces like brick or wood that will require encapsulation. Non-porous surfaces, or those that can be easily replaced like drywall should never need to be encapsulated.
DIY Mold Removal Cleaner
If you only see a small amount of mold and don’t want to purchase a mold remover, you can also create your own mold removal solution from common household products. The most common solution is simply a mixture of ¼ cup of bleach with 2 cups of warm water. Pour this combination into a spray bottle and it functions similarly to a store-bought cleaner.
Identifying the Source of the Mold
After you clean away any visible mold, it’s critical that you backtrack and find the source. Without correcting the cause of the mold, it’s guaranteed to come back.
The best way to fight mold is to prevent it
Performing your own rain gutter repair is often a lot easier than you expect, even for novice DIYers. Find out the most common gutter and downspout problems and how to fix them from EverDry Toledo!
Common Gutter Problems & Solutions
Clogged & Obstructed Gutters
One of the most common problems with rain gutters is clogging. Over time, debris builds up in your gutters and prevents water from flowing properly. In severe cases, it can even dam the flow of water completely, which puts your roof at risk for damage.
How to Repair It: While clogged rain gutters are common, they are fortunately easy to fix. Depending on the size of your house, all you may need is a ladder and a pair of gloves. Simply go around each section of the gutter, removing debris and inspecting it for possible damage.
Most homeowners will only need to do this about once per year, and spring is one of the best times to do it – not to mention some other important outdoor maintenance. However, if your house is surrounded by one or more trees, you may want to consider cleaning you gutters a few times each year. The more trees that can drop leaves or branches into the gutters, the quicker the buildup can hit critical mass.
It may also be worth investing in a gutter guard that helps prevent debris from entering your gutter in the first place. This doesn’t mean you never have to clean your gutters again, but it can help keep them flowing better between cleanings.
Leaks, Holes, or Deterioration
Your gutter is made up of multiple sections that are sealed or connected with gutter joints. Over time, no matter how they are joined together, the connection will deteriorate. Even well maintained gutters can sometimes suffer physical damage that opens holes or gaps. This results in leaking that drops water right against your siding or foundation.
How to Repair It: There are two ways to fix a leaky gutter. If the leak is coming from a tiny hole, such as one the size of a nail head, all you need is a little caulk. Silicone or gutter caulk can seal the leak without any additional help. Just make sure the gutter is free of any debris before you begin.
If the leak is much larger, you may need to use metal flashing to patch your gutter. Many home improvement stores sell gutter patch kits. Even if you can’t find a kit, you can create a patch by using tin snips to cut out metal flashing and using sealant to glue it in place.
Downspout Draining Too Close to House
A perfectly functional gutter system can be ruined by a downspout draining improperly. It’s important to make sure that the end of the downspout is taking the water an appropriate distance away. If it’s not, all the water caught and flushed away by the gutters will come right back.
Drainage plays a significant factor in the health of your home’s foundation
Types of Soil
Soil shifts and moves over time often as a result of how it handles moisture and the climate — including the freeze / thaw cycle. As soil shifts, it changes the support around your foundation, which can lead to cracks. And it’s those cracks that can allow in moisture and maybe even some pests.
Each type of soil is comprised of different properties that have various effects on the bedrock of a home. Soil with good structure is going to be more stable. The way in which soil handles wetting and drying cycles is also an important consideration, as expanding soil can put unwanted pressure on foundations and soil that retains too much moisture can cause the foundation to weaken.
Here are the most common types of soil and how they measure up:
Peat: Usually dark in color, peat is easily compactable because it holds a great deal of water, which makes it prone to shifting. This is not ideal soil for a foundation.
Clay: Because it’s made up of tiny particles, clay shrinks significantly when dry and expands when it’s moist. The extreme changes can put pressure on the foundation, which opens the door to potential cracks.
Silt: Usually smooth to the touch, this type of soil tends to retain water longer and drains poorly. This can push against and weaken foundations when wet.
Sand / Gravel: A better choice than peat, clay or silt, sand / gravel drains easily and does not retain moisture because it’s made up of larger particles. However, when wet, these particles can be washed away leaving gaps around the foundation.
Loam: Typically, a combination of sand, silt and clay, loam is an ideal soil type for supporting foundations, as it is able to maintain water at a balanced rate.
Rock: The strength and stability of rock makes it a great choice for foundations. However, it can be difficult to dig into, and homeowners should be sure the rock is level before constructing the foundation.
Improving Drainage Around Your House
Whether your home is resting on stable or not-so-stable soil, water drainage is an important part of maintaining the life of a foundation. Poor drainage can cause problems like water in the basement or structural damage, while proper surface drainage can lead moisture away from your home ultimately protecting the precious foundation. Here are some things you can do to ensure better drainage.
Roof gutters and downspouts: Gutters should be kept free of debris and direct water to downspouts that carry it away from the foundation. Be sure they’re draining at least six feet away from the home — downspout extensions can help!
Sufficient grading: Check to see if dirt is graded away from the home. Housing codes have various requirements, but it’s helpful if the ground slopes away from the foundation for a distance of eight feet or more.
Basement windows: Sometimes debris and water can collect near basement windows, so be sure to provide adequate drainage to the foundation drain.
Sump pumps remove excess water from around your basement and are best for minor amounts of groundwater. Ensure your sump pump is in good, working condition and consider a battery back-up.
Install foundation drains: This repair consists of removing portions of existing basement slab, installing new drains directing water to a sump pump and then installing new slab. Learn more about basement waterproofing options from EverDry Toledo.
Schedule a Free 20-Point Inspection
If you have questions about your foundation or would like to schedule an inspection to ensure the base of your home is in good shape, EverDry Toledo can help with a FREE 20-point basement inspection! We’ll help you pinpoint the source of the moisture problem. If it’s foundation-related, our waterproofing solutions can make your basement dry, healthy, and comfortable.
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Frozen pipes can be more than a temporary inconvenience. Left unchecked, a frozen pipe could burst, leading to significant water damage and creating an environment where mold can thrive. But by following simple winterizing steps, you can keep your plumbing intact despite the freezing temperatures.
Tip #1: Turn Off Your Water Supply
Like any DIY renovation, proper planning before you start a can save a lot of headaches – and unexpected expenses – down the road. While it’s certainly more exciting to think about installing a big-screen TV or a stylish bar, keeping your basement warm and dry should be your first consideration. With that in mind, we’ve put together 10 basement remodeling tips to help keep your basement cozy, energy efficient, and waterproof, so you can enjoy your new space for years to come!
1. Don’t start until you’ve checked the building code and obtained all necessary permits.
Your project could face serious consequences if it’s not up to code, and you could be putting your home and your family in danger. This is particularly important if you’re planning plumbing and electrical work, which may have to be inspected. Know and follow the building codes. If you have questions, concerns, or you’re not sure your skills are up to the task, consult a licensed builder.
2. Check for moisture problems.
Moisture issues are a common basement concern, and if you don’t address them before starting your renovations, you could be setting yourself up for costly repairs down the road. Mold, insects, and high levels of humidity are all signs that you could have a serious basement moisture problem that’s beyond the fix-it skills of the typical DIYer. If you’re not sure what to look for, our experts can provide you with a free basement inspection and recommend the best waterproofing option for you.
Even if you don’t have a serious moisture problem, adding a vapor barrier to both the walls and floors prior to framing and finishing off these surfaces makes good sense. Lay down the moisture barrier, wait a day or two, then check underneath to see if and how much moisture may be coming through before continuing. If there’s still residual moisture after adding the vapor barrier, create a slight offset from the outside wall by adding thin slats of wood or metal called furring strips. These strips can also be used to help level out a wall that may be “wavy” to create a flat surface for adding framing. When it’s framed and insulated, face it with mold-resistant drywall.
3. Don’t skimp on the insulation.
Insulation will not only help control the temperature inside your basement, it will add another layer of moisture control. Plus, it will help dampen sounds coming in from the outside. Choose an insulation that includes a vapor barrier on both sides. Spray foam insulation can also be effective for basement walls, but check code requirements to ensure it allowed in your area.
4. Seal around rim joists.
Uninsulated rim joists (the joists on the outside edge of your basement walls) can create big energy losses. They can also be an easy entrance for mice or other pests. Insulate them with rigid insulation cut to fit. 2” extruded polystyrene is a good choice, but make sure it’s up to code. If you have a table saw, use it to cut strips equal to the depth of your joists. Then use a fine-tooth handsaw or utility knife to cut the strips to length. Fill small gaps with caulk, and the larger ones with expanding spray foam.
5. Seal around pipes and wires.
Seal small cracks around pipes and wires with high-temperature silicone caulk, and larger gaps with flame-resistant expanding foam. Close openings around chimney flues or other large openings by nailing sheet metal over them and sealing the edges with caulk. While they’re exposed, slip foam insulation sleeves over hot-water pipes to prevent heat loss and over cold-water ones to prevent condensation from dripping on the inside of the drywall or ceiling.
6. Add a drop ceiling.
A drop, or suspended, ceiling hides your plumbing and electrical lines, yet provides easy access to them if needed. Remember that drop ceilings will reduce the amount of overhead space available, so keep that in mind when planning your renovation.
To soundproof a drop ceiling, add fiberglass batts above the ceiling tiles, but make sure your tiles can bear the added weight. Although batt insulation is relatively lightweight, it can put enough stress on think drop ceiling tiles and break them. Don’t use fiberglass ceiling tiles – they can’t support the weight of insulation. If you’re thinking of using wood-and-gypsum ceiling tiles, they will need to be at least 5/8 inch (15 mm) thick to be used safely with batt insulation.
7. Make sure your flooring is waterproof.
You may be tempted to add carpeting or wood flooring to your new space, but that can be a bad idea. Even a waterproofed basement can fall victim to a malfunctioning sump pump, and one flood can ruin an expensive floor (see #10).
That doesn’t mean you have to be stuck with a drab floor of gray concrete. Here are a few great basement flooring options:
- Epoxy floor coatings are good if you can live with a hard surface flooring. Epoxy coating is inexpensive, comes in a lot of colors, is totally waterproof, and easy to apply.
- Ceramic tile comes in an almost endless variety of colors and styles. In fact, you can even buy tile that looks amazingly like a wood floor! It’s unaffected by moisture and goes directly onto concrete that’s smooth and free of cracks.
- Vinyl tile and sheet flooring also goes directly over prepared concrete and will withstand even minor flooding. A vinyl floor can provide some cushioning underfoot, and it’s fairly inexpensive.
- Engineered wood flooring gives you the warmth and beauty of real wood with the stability and moisture resistance of laminate construction. Click-together tiles and planks are DIY-friendly and easy to install as a floating floor system. Check to make sure the type you choose is rated for below-grade basements.
- Rubber flooring comes in sheets and DIY-friendly tiles with interlocking edges. Rubber floors are nicely cushioned and come in a wide variety of colors, making them a good choice for basement playrooms.
Remember, no matter what flooring you choose, it’s important that you take steps to keep your basement as dry as possible. That means grading out foundation soil so it slopes away from foundation walls at least four inches over 10 feet, adding extensions to your downspouts so water exits at least five feet away from your house, and keeping gutters in good repair.
8. Consider your heating options.
Tying into an existing HVAC system will usually makes the most sense (and save the most dollars on remodeling costs). Remember, warm air rises, so it makes sense to install heating vents at floor level. For this reason, baseboard heating is also good option.
If cold basement floors are a problem, you can warm them up with electric heating cables or mats. This type of heat doesn’t warm the room much, but it makes floors much more comfortable.
9. Don’t remodel the utility room.
Keep the area around HVAC units and water heaters clear, open, and unfinished. These spaces have specific code requirements for spacing and framing. Plus, you’ll need access for inspection and/or repairs.
10. Have a backup plan for your sump pump.
It’s best to have both a battery backup for your main pump, in case of a power outage, and a second pump, in case the first one gives out. You can also install an inexpensive, battery-operated alarms that detect water to notify you if there’s water on your basement floor.
Call Team EverDry Today!
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