Originally posted: 10/22/18. Updated by Kelly Kater 9/10/20
If you’re reading this article, I suspect you’ve already done some research into basement waterproofing. What I don’t know is your knowledge level: if you’ve binge-watched a season of remodelling on HGTV, asked neighbors about their experiences, read a dozen articles, or even had some estimates from contractors.
Acculevel has been waterproofing basements since their founding in 1996. Family-owned and operated, our goal is to repair homes and restore peace of mind for homeowners. We treat every customer’s home as if it were our own, and we want you to have a clear and detailed understanding of how waterproofing is done and how important service warranties are.
Since I don’t know your knowledge level, I’m going to do more than just answer the title question. This article will explain what waterproofing is, the components involved, and how long each should last. Along the way, I’ll provide resources that can direct you into deeper explanations or related content that you may need.
What Is Waterproofing?
The term is misleading; in our industry, waterproofing a basement doesn’t mean preventing water from getting into the basement. It means managing the water that gets into the basement and controlling how and where it goes. If your goal is a truly dry basement, a waterproofing system is only the first half of the process. You’ll also need to encapsulate the basement, which we’ll discuss later on in this article.
Water Drainage Systems
In order to manage the water in your basement, you need a water drainage system. This has two components: the drainage channel and a sump pump.
The drainage channel is normally installed IN the basement floor, around the perimeter. This means the concrete floor is broken up, the channel is placed, and new concrete is poured on top of it. There are a variety of drainage types, and the best one for you is usually determined by the type of foundation you have. This topic is explored more fully in this blog, which describes the three primary types of foundation floors and which solution is best for each.
This photo was taken by an Acculevel crew member, after a water drainage system and sump pump were installed.
When the drainage is installed, it’s all routed to one location: the sump pump pit. This is essentially just a hole in the floor that houses the sump pump. A sump pump is the mechanism that expels the water out of your basement through a discharge line. There are a number of different kinds, which you can learn about in our article describing the top 5 pumps you can buy.
At Acculevel, we always install a submersible pump with a battery back-up. We consider this the best practice for homes in the Midwest. Water in basements is often a direct result of thunderstorms, and thunderstorms often include power outages. A heavy rain is the worst time to have a non-functioning sump pump!
You may have noticed that all of our conversation so far has been about interior water drainage. Acculevel also does exterior water drainage, but we generally recommend against it. In this video, our Sales Director Nolan Beery explains why:
How Long Does Basement Waterproofing Last?
At Acculevel, we believe basement waterproofing should be a permanent solution. Realistically, it lasts as long as your contractor will service it. We warranty our geo channel, fast track, and water tunnel drainage systems for the life of your structure. Essentially, as long as your home is standing, we guarantee it will work. The sump pumps we install are covered by a manufacturer’s warranty for 5 years, and we service them at no cost to our customers.
If You Want a Truly Dry Basement, You Want Encapsulation
Encapsulation is step past waterproofing. Once you have water drainage and a sump pump installed, you can add encapsulation on top of it. There are three components to encapsulation: the encap itself, a dehumidifier, and spray foam.
Encapsulation is a thick plastic sheeting that is secured to the basement walls. All of the seams are sealed, so any water that seeps in along the wall will be trapped by the encap and routed downward into the water drainage. We use a white cap that is 20 millimeters thick and has an antimicrobial coating that inhibits mold growth and preserves the material against decay.
You need a dehumidifier to control the humidity inside your home. Without one, condensation can form on surfaces inside the house and create that awful clammy feeling you often experience in a midwestern summer. We have an article that fully explores the importance of a dehumidifier and how to determine what size you need, here.
Spray foam is a lightweight, tightly compacted insulation that can seal gaps in your basement. It also helps to secure the white cap at the top- usually around the band board and sill plate. Unlike fiberglass insulation, spray foam will not hold any water and completely blocks air leaks. For seven reasons why you should invest in spray foam, you can check out this blog.
How Long Does Basement Encapsulation Last?
Encapsulation should last an extended period of time, and the contractor’s warranty should be taken into account. Acculevel warranties encapsulation and installation for 25 years. The dehumidifiers we install are covered by a manufacturer’s warranty for 5 year, and we also service those at no cost to our customers.
One of the main reasons we bring up the topic of warranties in our blogs is because they vary significantly from one company to another. Repair services are not governed as strictly as products are; in this article, I researched exactly what a “lifetime warranty” is in our industry– and it was NOT what I thought it would be.
Similarly, I checked out insurance coverage, and chances are it doesn’t cover waterproofing or basement links. You need specific coverages to include those particular issues, and they are usually additional endorsements (not under a general policy).
You may be wondering, what am I getting myself into? And if you are, I don’t blame you for being nervous. There are a lot of different variables that you need to consider before hiring someone to work on your home! We have a free, downloadable guide of the questions you should ask a contractor and I encourage you to use it when you need any type of home repairs.
Are You Ready to Meet With a Contractor About Waterproofing?
If you are, you want to find an experienced and reputable company. Ask friends and neighbors if they have needed repairs, and if they’d recommend their contractor. You can also check with your HOA, the realtor who sold your home to you, or a referral service like Angie’s List.
Verify that the company is a good fit for you, first through the Better Business Bureau and later with the Contractor Guide we offer. We believe everyone has a right to a safe and healthy home, and we never want to see anyone taken in by a scam artist posing as a legitimate business.
If you live in Indiana or the surrounding areas, please call Acculevel. We will set up an appointment for you with one of our knowledgeable and reliable project managers; they will evaluate your home honestly and fairly, and provide you with a written estimate for the best solution to protect your home for years to come.