Different Types of Basement Waterproofing and How They Work

Wednesday, November 27th, 2019 by Holly Richards-Purpura


If you have a basement, you probably know how annoying it is when it starts to get damp. When it starts to rain outside, you don’t get to enjoy the sound of it coming down on your roof. Instead, you have to worry about the damage you’ll have to clean up the next day.

Not only can water in your basement bring on a headache, but it can damage any items you’ve put into storage. A damp basement also promotes mold growth and even puts the foundation of your home at risk.

damp basement also promotes mold growth

The good news is that there’s more than one way to deal with a damp basement – and it doesn’t have to involve a shop-vac the day after a rainstorm. Instead, you can waterproof your basement one of three ways: via interior waterproofing, interior sealing and exterior waterproofing.

How Does Interior Waterproofing Work?

The vast majority of homes in Denver, CO, lack the waterproofing that would keep your belongings and space safe from water damage. The good news is that if you’re considering waterproofing your basement from the inside, you have plenty of options to choose from. These include:

  • French Drains: French drains are among the most effective ways to waterproof your basement from the interior. These drains open up the floor of your basement, providing any incoming water with streams to travel through. This prevents the water from pooling in the corners or low spots of your flooring. Once the water’s been redirected, a sump pump will break up the hydrostatic pressure and force it away from your foundation. It can take one to two days for professionals to install a French drain and pump into your basement. Note that French drains are not sump pumps, but that the two can stack for improved waterproofing.
  • Sump Pumps: a sump pump, like its French cousin, will remove standing water from your home. Unlike the French drain, though, sump pumps direct standing water into underground sump pits. You’ll need to maintain your sump pit if you want to see it last the whole of its ten-year lifespan.
  • Vapor Barriers: vapor barriers are temporary solutions to your water damage, but they work in a pinch. These barriers, made of a variety of different materials, rest on your basement floor and gather up rainwater. You can alternatively hang vapor barriers on your walls to deal with incoming rainfall before it hits the floor. Vapor barrier installation shouldn’t take more than a few hours.
  • Dehumidifiers: using a dehumidifier to clear out your basement isn’t a long-term solution to your water damage problem. That said, it is a useful and cost-effective one. By installing a dehumidifier, you lay down the first line of defense against mold and long-term water damage. A dehumidifier will force the humidity out of the air and store the converted water in a bin. Once the worst of the humidity has passed, you’ll have a dry basement and water you can use to water the plants outside. Dehumidifier installation will vary based on the type of dehumidifier you’re introducing to your home. Temporary ones are simple to set up, while foundational dehumidifiers will take up to a day to install with professional help.

How Does Interior Sealing Work?

You can alternatively use a sealing tool to waterproof your basement from the inside. This is considered a secondary option to more traditional forms of waterproofing because it is an explicitly temporary solution to your long-term problem.

To waterproof your basement with an interior sealant, you’ll want to guide the sealant around the edge of your foundation. With the sealant in place, the humidity levels in your basement should drop to the point where water no longer rapidly forms, either in good weather or bad.

The good news about this and most other forms of interior waterproofing is that it’s quick. You should be able to seal your basement’s interior within a matter of hours. That said, these forms of waterproofing, including painting, are not long-term waterproofing solutions.

How Does Exterior Waterproofing Work?

Waterproofing the exterior of your home, especially considering Denver, CO’s variable landscape, takes significantly more work than interior waterproofing. You’ll typically want to hire a contractor to help you through the process so you can be certain the job’s done well.

Contractors will help you choose what form of exterior waterproofing you’re interested in: damp proofing, downspout extensions or sump pump installation.

It should be noted that it’s easier to implement exterior waterproofing membranes or other solutions to new homes than it is to existing homes. If you opt to waterproof an existing home from the outside, you may find that your exterior drains clog more frequently. Consult a contractor before considering this option, and be prepared to dedicate upwards of one week to the waterproofing process.

Choosing a Waterproofing Method

With the different basement waterproofing processes in mind, how can you choose the method you want to use to clean up your basement? That decision rests on several factors, including:

  • Your budget
  • Your location
  • The state of your home
  • The size of your leaks

It’s best to communicate with a waterproofing company such as Complete Basement Systems if you feel like interior or exterior waterproofing is the solution to your problems. Reach out, touch base, and before long, your basement will be as dry as the desert.