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How to Waterproof Your Basement

If you’ve experienced the misery of a flooded basement or just want to avoid it, waterproofing the lowest level of your home makes a ton of sense. Sure, you can hire a professional, but getting the job done with a little handiwork yourself is more than possible. Here’s how you can prevent a flood from ruining your furniture, attracting mold and negatively impacting your bank account:

Find the Potential Sources of Leakage

If you hire a professional, you could pay thousands of dollars to have an entire protective system put in to protect your basement from flooding. But if you’re doing it yourself, it’s more about finding vulnerabilities. Scope out these parts of your basement to see if there’s anything that could invite a leak, or worse, a flood into your home:

Your foundation walls. If you find a small crack in your basement wall, it’s not necessarily a sign that your home needs emergency repair. However, applying epoxy can help prevent any moisture from making its way into your walls and your home. Make sure to clean your walls thoroughly and follow the product’s instructions.

Your pipes. Especially in the winter, your pipes are subject to a lot of strain while they carry water and waste to and from your home. Check for any corrosion, expansion or leaks that could lead to bigger problems later on. Need tips on preventing your pipes from freezing and bursting or giving your plumbing a quick check-up? We’ve got you covered.

If you do notice a leak or wear on a pipe, head to your local hardware store for quick water pipe patching and repair materials — but be ready to call a professional if the damage is extensive or a problem occurs again.

Window wells. Preventing your window wells from flooding or leaking is a must — your window wells let in comforting natural light and can help with ventilation, but if they’re not covered correctly, they can be a menace to your basement. Make sure your window is the right size and the cover is securely attached. Additionally, if there is a drain, make sure it’s working appropriately and be proactive about checking its opening for any debris that could get in and create a clog. Filling the bottom of the window well with gravel can help with drainage, too.

Gutters and downspouts. Broken or clogged gutters and downspouts can allow rain and meltwater to collect around your home, seep into the ground and find ways into your basement. Check your gutters and downspouts regularly to make sure they’re not disconnected, full of leaves or too worn down to work correctly.

Sump pump. One of your main defenses against basement flooding can work against you if it’s not taken care of. Make sure your sump pump is working during the next rain storm, check its components regularly and ensure that it’s disposing of that extra water far enough away from your home.

During periods of freezing weather, consider disconnecting the discharge hose from your home if it’s located above ground. If water freezes within the hose, it could prevent foundation water from being pumped away from your house.

Waterproofing Methods

Now that you’ve checked the most common culprits of basement flooding, it’s time to go over some other methods of prevention that can help prevent issues from damp air to major flooding. While some of these methods are more expensive and labor-intensive, they represent a small price to pay in the prevention of a flood. Check them out:

Make sure your grading directs water away from your house. Your gutters, downspouts and sump pump can only handle so much — gravity should do the rest. If the area around your home doesn’t slope away, you’ll have more water collecting around your foundation. Connect with a professional to have your home’s grading assessed and fixed.

Apply concrete sealer. There are plenty of commercial concrete sealers out there — head to a local home improvement store and have a sales representative walk you through the right sealer for you. Follow the product’s instructions carefully and your concrete basement walls won’t let moisture into your space.

Insulate your pipes. Insulating your pipes can help prevent your pipes freezing, bursting and flooding your basement in the winter. Insulation will also help you prevent your basement from becoming damp and uncomfortable by preventing humid air from coming into contact your pipes and making them sweat.

Use a dehumidifier. If your basement air always feels damp even after you insulated exposed pipes, consider running a dehumidifier in your basement to alleviate the problem and prevent mold. While some models will require extensive set-up to connect them to a drainage system, basic systems are easy to set up — just be sure to check and empty the reservoir regularly.

Exterior waterproofing. To waterproof your home from the outside, professionals dig up the soil next to it, install a system of panels and pipes to divert water away and into a drain. If you’ve got enough funds saved up to put up major waterproofing defenses or you can secure additional funds from your lender and/live in an area often affected by floods, consider hiring a professional to apply exterior waterproofing.

If you have a basement drain nearby, you can also run the discharge hose from the dehumidifier into the drain. Remember — if you don’t drain it, it won’t run.

Want even more protection from the unexpected? Your American Family Insurance agent can help you get flood insurance for your home and personal property protection for your valuables. Get in touch today and get the peace of mind you deserve.

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