The Telegram (St. John's)
There is no such thing as a little water
Stay on top of foundation issues before they turn into a giant expensive fix
Your foundation is the foundation of a strong home. Your home’s exterior plays a huge role in keeping the elements outside. When the roof, doors, windows, and foundation are weak, you’re going to start seeing water, moisture, mould, and rot present itself inside the home. Over time small issues can balloon in to big ones, so even a little water can be a huge deal.
Do you see a lot of water intrusion in your basement? It’s possible that you’ve got some foundation issues. If you let foundation issues spiral out of control, they can easily become a giant, expensive fix. But if you’re proactive you can mitigate a lot of the cost by addressing issues while they’re still relatively minor.
KEEPING WATER OUT
Concrete is a porous material, and so it will suck up moisture and water like a sponge. This is why it’s so important to have a good eavestrough system on your home. Then when water runs off the roofline, the eaves guide down the pipes and expel it in a place where it can’t do any damage to your home.
That said, you should have your foundation waterproofed, to keep the rain and snow at bay. If not properly waterproofed you could start to see water presenting itself in your home, and that can lead to major issues with mould and rot.
Your best bet is to waterproof the foundation from the outside — ideally when you build the home, so you don’t have to excavate around the house to add waterproofing after the fact.
Once the foundation is set, it will need to be wrapped in a waterproof membrane. In most cases, you’ll have a black tar compound painted over top of the concrete. From there, it will be covered up by a waterproof mastic coating, (generally applied either by rolling a coat on or spraying it on), covering that with a mesh coat, and then another round of the waterproof mastic coating. The last step for water proofing your foundation is installing dimple wrap (from grade level — to footing). This is all to help keep that water vapour at bay.
Even new foundations may see some cracking, both on the interior and exterior of the foundation. When you see this, it’s important not to panic. When concrete cures, over time you may see some cracks. When this happens, just keep an eye on them.
If they don’t grow larger (after about 3 months or so), you can probably fill them with epoxy injections. There are DIY repair kits you can get at any local hardware store, which will allow you to do this on your own. Small cracks can do more than let moisture seep through small insects and critters don’t need a lot of space to force their way into your home. If you’ve got an unexplained ant issue, you may have a crack in your foundation in need of filling.
If the cracks are wide enough that you can fit a coin inside, call a foundation pro immediately — it may require a bigger fix that you can’t get at the hardware store.
For those of you who live in a new build with an unfinished basement — I would wait a few years before you finish that space. I like to see a basement go through a few freeze-thaw cycles before I finish the space, because if any interior cracks appear, you can easily spot them, and fix any issues that arise. If you hurried to finish the space and put up some drywall, how can you know if you’ve gained some new cracks or sprung a leak?
Winter is the hardest season on our homes, so every spring and fall you should take a good look at your foundation. Leaving summertime a good time to address any issues or concerns. In the spring, you’ll assess any new damage that may have occurred over the winter. And in the fall, you’ll ensure that your foundation is in good enough shape to withstand winter’s wallop.