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If your basement leaks when it rains, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to realize that you need to have some sort of waterproofing system work done to prevent flooding. The problem is that there are many different components of the average basement waterproofing system, and if any single part malfunctions, then it can lead to leaks during the rainy season.
The first–and arguably the most important–component of basement waterproofing is the exterior foundation footer drain tiles. The reason your basement leaks when it rains is because of something called hydrostatic pressure. When the ground surrounding your home is saturated by rain water, it presses up against your basement walls . . . and eventually leads to dampness, leaks, cracks, mold, mildew and even floods.
Your footer drains are meant to collect the excess rainwater and move it away from your basement walls. In modern homes, they are perforated plastic PVC pipes, but older homes were built using clay footer drain tiles. Over the years, these can become blocked, broken, and filled with tree roots and debris.
In order to properly clean out footer drains, you need to have a professional basement waterproofing company tap into them (usually through an external cleanout) and blast out the obstructions with a high-pressure water jetting system. If there is no drain cleanout installed, or if the footer is broken, you will need to have them excavate to access the drains for cleaning or replacement.
The second most important part of your waterproofing system are your basement walls themselves–both the external and internal. Outside, your basement walls should be treated with tar or some other waterproof sealer to protect them from heavy rain water; inside, waterproofing paint and other products can be applied to keep the blocks from becoming damp or moldy.
Finally, it’s important that you have an open, working basement floor drain just in case an unexpectedly nasty storm hits and overwhelms your footer drains and waterproofed walls. This way, your basement might still get wet, but the leaky walls won’t lead to extensive flooding damage the next time it rains.