Book a Consultation

What Are the Most Common Problems with Basement Waterproofing?

crack in concrete floor letting in water

Originally posted 3/13/20, updated 12/14/22

If you’re here, you already know that waterproofing -with water drainage and a sump pump- is the best method for dealing with a damp basement.  You’ve done your research, learned about types and methods of waterproofing, and why it’s necessary.  But you aren’t naive; you know that no solution is perfect and you want to be prepared.  

This is smart, because you’re right.  

There are four common issues that arise during the waterproofing process.  We’re going to explain their significance, additional incurred costs, and how to plan for them.  

Acculevel has been waterproofing homes since 1996, and in the past 20+ years, we’ve installed thousands of water drainage systems.  The following issues are the ones we see most frequently. Our goal with this article is to anticipate potential problems and explain the most likely outcomes.


Footer Damage 

As we discuss in our waterproofing costs article, newer homes have a footer under their foundation.  This allows contractors to use water tunnel drainage, which rests directly on top of that footer.  Older homes have to use fast track drainage, which costs approximately $20 more per linear foot.  

Sometimes, when a contractor breaks through the basement floor, they’ll discover that there is something wrong with your home’s footer.  It may be missing, it may not be wide enough, or the floor has been poured too thinly over the top of the footer. In any of these situations, water tunnel drainage is not an option.  This means part -or all- of your water tunnel needs to be upgraded to fast track.  

Can This Expense Be Planned?

Unfortunately, this is not something that can be diagnosed ahead of time.  Contractors can’t determine the exact status of your footer until the floor is removed.  Dealing with unexpected costs is very frustrating, but in this case are sometimes unavoidable.


Mechanical Connections

When homes are built, the basement is the default location for a number of critical components.  These include your HVAC system, water heater, fuse box, and water shut-off valves. You may also have a radon detection system in this area, depending on your home’s location.  

If these items are located on the floor and against a wall, these may need to be disconnected and moved before we can install your water drainage.  If you can’t do this yourself, you may need to contact a plumber or general contractor to make these arrangements. This can be an extra expense and inconvenience that homeowners can overlook before scheduling installation.  

Sometimes these mechanicals can be temporarily reconnected until after the installation.  The optimal solution is that they can be moved a little further away from the wall, then reconnected and left permanently at this new location.  If this is the case, then the utilities don’t have to be moved a second time- or require a return visit from the contractor.

Another thing to note: If the weather is particularly cold or hot, it may actually delay your installation.  This can be inconvenient, but essential for your comfort and safety. 

If you disconnect your furnace for 12-24 hours when the average temperature is at freezing or below, you’re going to be creating a lot of misery for yourself.  (And worse, maybe even have frozen pipes!). At the other end of the thermometer, having to forgo air conditioning at the height of summer and high humidity can be unbearable.   

Can This Expense Be Planned?

Yes.  Ideally, you would be informed during the initial estimate appointment if something needs to be relocated.  If you have any questions about this step, your project advisor should be able to advise you. We also have a preparation guide for customers to review, before their installation.  


Unpredictable Cracks in the Basement Floor 

If there is water seeping in through cracks in your floor, you normally have two choices.  They can either be sealed, or they need to be opened and replaced with an additional drainage channel.  

If the crack is narrow and only letting in a small amount of water seepage, or only lets in water during a heavy rain, an epoxy crack fill should be sufficient.  Most of the time, the project advisor can determine that during your initial estimate appointment.

crack in concrete floor letting in waterThis photo was taken by an Acculevel project advisor during a routine free estimate.  A long thin crack runs along the basement floor, with water seeping through.

However, there are two circumstances that can lead to additional drainage installation.

  1. If the crack is narrow, but letting in significant water, this indicates there may be more pressure under that section than the floor can endure.  If this is the case, an epoxy fill will not hold.
  2. Similarly, if the crack is wide or is actively widening, it will be better to relieve the pressure and install water drainage to manage the influx.

Can This Expense Be Planned?

Most of the time, yes.  There are times when a narrow crack gives way while being epoxied, but this isn’t typical.  If the crack is narrow, but actively letting in water, the project advisor will discuss both scenarios and review pricing with you in advance. 


Basement Finishing 

If you plan to “finish” your basement, complete with drywall and flooring, you may want to consider how to incorporate your water drainage system. This is an essential factor to incorporate into your plans.  No one wants wet insulation, drywall, or carpet!

The optimal solution is to encapsulate your basement walls.  When you frame the room(s) in your basement, you’ll be installing a wooden framework with insulation.  You’ll need to protect these elements from water. Encapsulation will also help control the humidity, which contributes to the moisture that can develop in a basement.  

This reduces the workload for your dehumidifier, and prevents moisture damage to your home and furnishings.  For details about the benefits of a dehumidifier, we have a recent article that explains the damage excess moisture can do.

Can This Expense Be Planned?

Yes, if you tell the project advisor that you intend to finish the basement.  They can then calculate the encapsulation costs for you, and review the options.  


Additional Resources for You

If you have additional questions about basement waterproofing, we encourage you to check out our detailed guide to basement waterproofing.  This covers all the related topics, as well as the questions most frequently asked by homeowners.

Is this the first time you’ll be hiring a contractor to work on your property?  We have a list of questions that you should ask a contractor, complete with printable checklist.

Have health concerns, and not sure how to safely meet with a contractor without exposure?  The COVID-19 outbreak prompted us to develop ways to work with our customers with minimal risk, and we review that information in this blog.


Avoiding Problems With Waterproofing Your Home

As we mentioned earlier, some of the problems that come up with you hire a contractor to waterproof your basement are unavoidable. Now that you know what to look for and how to plan for potential problems, you’ll need to find a contractor. We recommend that you look for an experienced local company, and make sure they are reputable, insured, and accredited by the Better Business Bureau.  

If you live in Indiana or the surrounding states, contact Acculevel. We specialize in waterproofing and foundation repairs, and will schedule an appointment for you, with one of our experienced project advisors.  He or she will evaluate your basement and foundation, then recommend the best course of action for you, to keep your home strong and healthy for years to come. 

Click here for a free estimate



Get Started