If you’re in search of accurate costs to waterproof your basement, you’ve come to the right place.
Here’s what you’ll learn by the end of this article:
- Why water is leaking into your basement
- Exterior solutions for leaky basements
- Interior solutions for basement leakage
- How to stop foundation walls from leaking permanently
- How to save money when waterproofing your basement
Basements are desirable because they can add storage or living space to your home, but they come with some downsides too. Most basements will leak at some point because the concrete block walls are exposed to moisture and water every day.
Many people panic at the thought of a wet basement. However, there are permanent waterproofing solutions that can bring peace of mind to any homeowner dealing with foundation leaks.
In this article, we’re going to discuss the root cause of your water intrusion, solutions for stopping the leaking, and how you can save money on the waterproofing solution your basement needs.
Where Is The Issue Coming From?
Understanding the root cause of your basement water problems is crucial because it lets you treat the problem and not just the symptoms.
Fixing the problem altogether will keep your basement dry and will save you money on future foundation repairs that will undoubtedly be needed if you don’t fix the actual issue.
We’ll first talk about the most likely problems that could be leading to leaks in your basement.
Downpipes and Gutters That Are Improperly Installed
Time and time again, we see homeowners making the same critical error: not having gutters and downspouts installed correctly.
Rainwater drips off of your roof onto the soil right next to your home’s foundation. The collecting water creates hydrostatic pressure on your concrete walls and forces water in through foundation cracks or the naturally porous concrete.
A proper gutter system will help reduce the amount of water that ever interacts with your foundation and has a chance of seeping in.
Cooking, bathing, and exercising are everyday activities in some finished basements and can create a buildup of moisture.
Steam and perspiration can cause the drywall to become moist. Basements are specifically prone to moisture buildup, so increased moisture in the air can trigger mildew to grow.
Leaks in Your Water Lines
Many homeowners focus on water intrusion, which is when water comes into your basement from the outside.
However, a significant amount of water can actually come from inside if you have a leak in your water lines. Leaks can be common in water supply lines, heating lines, and even on your water heater or boiler. These can cause very severe water damage.
Cracks in your foundation form for many reasons, including normal settling and soil movement.
Some cracks are more dangerous than others, but all types can let water through. This is especially true if the hydrostatic pressure on the outside of your basement walls is high.
Improperly Graded Soil
Soil that is graded correctly away from your home will help limit how much interacts with your concrete walls.
Rainwater or runoff from sprinklers can puddle next to your house and increase hydrostatic pressure on your walls, which will mean a higher chance of leaking.
Groundwater can be just as dangerous as runoff and can make for very heavy leaking.
Groundwater is very likely to be the root cause of your leaking basement if you live near the water and have a high water table on your property.
Windows in your basement can have wells that allow them to open even if they are below grade. The wells need to be appropriately drained so that water doesn’t build up.
If it does, it’s likely to come in through the window gaps or the concrete around the opening.
Exterior Sealing Techniques
Fixing the root cause of your water intrusion should always be the first step to waterproofing your basement.
Next, you should consider sealing the outside of your concrete block walls to stop water from passing into the concrete or through foundation cracks.
We will go over the different exterior waterproofing methods below and give you estimated costs based on the national average.
Cost of Damp Proofing vs. Waterproofing
Dampproofing is a sealant that gets applied to the outside of your basement walls that can block water vapor from passing through and help keep your concrete healthy. It isn’t waterproof, but it’s still used as a barrier on most foundations.
Dampproofing usually costs around $5 per square foot, so full application on a 1,000 square foot home will cost around $5,000. This price can go up if landscaping features like patios or decks need to be disrupted during excavation.
Waterproofing is waterproof and can be applied as sheets or a spray-on solution. The material is more expensive because it blocks moisture in the form of water vapor and liquid water. It protects better than dampproofing.
Waterproofing can be up to twice as expensive as dampproofing. You will likely pay between $7,500 and $10,000 to waterproof a 1,000 square foot home. Again, this price can be higher if excavation is complicated.
Cost of Cement Waterproofing
Cement waterproofing is a slurry that gets applied to your foundation wall and acts as a waterproof cement layer. It’s relatively cheap and easy to install.
However, it settles and hardens like cement and can crack if your concrete walls or the soil around them cause foundation movement. You may need routine repair or sealing to cracked portions of your cement waterproofing layer.
Cement waterproofing usually costs between $1,000 and $1,500 for a 1,000 square foot home. The pricing will be higher for larger homes, and you will need to add in the cost of excavation if you aren’t applying the cement waterproofing during construction.
The excavation usually costs approximately $5,000 for this same standard-sized home.
Cost of Foundation Waterproofing Membrane
A foundation waterproofing membrane is a sturdy and fully waterproof layer of rubber or latex material that separates your concrete walls from the soil around them.
The waterproofing membrane is a very good solution for leaking basements, but it won’t fix excessive hydrostatic pressure on its own. It can be a great addition to other basement waterproofing methods.
This membrane is the most expensive of the exterior waterproofing methods. The national average price to have it installed is around $15,000 for a home with a footprint of 1,000 square feet.
Complicated excavation will make this more expensive, so be prepared for higher costs if you have landscaping features or semi-permanent structures like driveways or paver patios that need removal.
Cost of Drain Tiles
Lastly, a drain tile or French drain can be laid around your foundation with minimal excavation.
These drainage systems are set a foot or two under the soil and are covered with gravel. Runoff or surface water will naturally fall through the rocks and get collected by your drainage system. The water is then moved away from your concrete walls.
The total cost for a French drain will be about $25 for each linear foot that needs to be laid. That cost can increase to $50 per linear foot if your excavation is complex and can’t be done with a trencher. The total cost for a standard home is usually about $5,500.
Interior Sealing Techniques
You can employ interior basement waterproofing techniques to your basement too. These sealants are often less expensive because there is no excavating needed. Many of these can be DIY waterproofing projects for handy homeowners, so you can save money on labor costs.
Now, we’ll go over the different techniques for waterproofing the insides of your basement walls.
Cost of Foundation Coatings and Concrete Waterproofing
Waterproof foundation coatings are made of epoxy or polyurethane and can be applied to bare concrete in your basement.
They are used to seal cracks most often but can be put on as a full waterproofing layer. The cost is usually about $5 per square foot but can be a bit more than double that if you have a finished basement and need drywall removal coupled with the application.
Concrete waterproofing on the inside is the same as on the outside but gives an added layer of protection against any water that seeps into your concrete or through foundation cracks. It’s cementitious, so it can be applied with a putty knife, a trowel, or a roller.
The average cost of concrete waterproofing on the inside of your concrete walls is $750-$1,250. The price will be higher if you have a finished basement that needs to be demolished or if you have a large basement.
Cost of Silicate Concrete Sealers
Silicate concrete sealers seep into your cement walls just like water does and makes them less porous. Your wall will be more resistant to seepage once the sealant dries.
They can be covered with a waterproofing paint after they set because they are active inside the concrete and not on the surface.
It costs around $5 per square foot that needs to be treated. Concrete waterproofing contractors can use an industrial-strength sealer that would cost closer to $10 per square foot.
Better quality sealers are desirable because they make your wall more impervious to liquid water and water vapor.
Concrete sealers make your basement walls look a bit shiny but don’t change the appearance of your walls much.
Cost of Waterproofing Paint
Waterproofing paint is one of the most common interior waterproofing products used by homeowners because it’s familiar and easy to use.
It’s like ordinary interior paint but thicker, so it can be applied with paint rollers and brushes to interior walls. However, the paint is more expensive because of its waterproof properties.
The average cost to have a waterproofing company seal a standard basement is $5,500.
You can make the same application with the same products for around $1,000. However, it will take quite a while to cover the basement floors and all the walls thoroughly.
Cost of Crawl Space Vapor Barriers
Lastly, you can install a vapor barrier against your walls. Vapor barriers look like clear tarps and are attached to the inside of your crawl space or basement walls.
They act just like dampproofing but are only used inside. They block water vapor but won’t stop liquid water from seeping through your concrete and dripping down to your floor. They work well in combination with an interior drainage system.
Crawl space vapor barriers average approximately $2,500 for a standard crawl space. The price can range just like any other product if the installation is made more difficult by extenuating circumstances.
Most homeowners don’t use them in basements because they don’t look very nice, but they can be installed behind your drywall in finished basements if you choose.
What Are Permanent Solutions to Basement Water Problems?
We always suggest that all homeowners treat the root cause of their water issues.
Treating the symptoms can work temporarily, but correcting the actual problem will be better for you and your home in the long run. We will take this time to talk about some permanent solutions to fix your water intrusion issues.
We recommend that anyone with a basement install a dehumidifier. Basements almost always have moisture problems at some point, and dehumidifiers work to maintain a healthy humidity wherever they are placed.
Self-draining dehumidifiers don’t even need to be emptied and can just be set up to drain into a sink or sump pump.
Installing Gutters and Downpipes
Good drainage begins before rainwater even hits the ground. A gutter system will move runoff from your roof to an area of your yard that won’t increase hydrostatic pressure on your concrete walls.
Less water falling on or next to your foundation means less water that could potentially work its way into your basement.
Installing and Cleaning Window Well Drains
All window wells on your basement windows need to have drains on the bottom to remove the water before it can get in through your window.
Even small amounts of rainfall can cause leaking if your window wells don’t drain as they should. It would help if you also clean up your window well drains to make sure that leaves, sticks, dirt, and other yard debris aren’t clogging them.
Properly Grading Your Soil
We mentioned before that poorly graded soil could let water pool next to your home. That water can soak into the ground and create pressure that can force water through your concrete.
Properly grading your soil will help move and distribute water so that it doesn’t pool in dangerous places.
Foundation Crack Repair
Lastly, it would help if you sealed any cracks in your foundation with a caulk or epoxy injection. Any gap in your basement walls or floor can let water vapor or liquid water in.
Sealing cracks will help stop the water intrusion. Just make sure that any horizontal, stair-step, or diagonal cracks in your cement are inspected by an engineer before you cover them with a sealant.
How To Save Money When Waterproofing Your Basement?
The prices We’ve listed above may make you nervous about moving forward with basement waterproofing. There are some ways you can save on the cost estimates We’ve provided above.
The cheapest way to fix basement water problems is to fix them. You read that correctly: you need to fix the problem and not just treat it.
You will save yourself from costly permanent repairs in the future if you solve the root cause of the water seepage problem from the start.
Small foundation problems left untreated or patches with temporary solutions usually create much larger problems and even structural instability. Save money in the future by spending more on a good solution now.
You can also save quite a bit of money by doing your own home improvement when possible. Waterproofing paint, caulk crack repair, and even French drains can be done yourself and will usually cost less than half as much as paying a contractor to do them.
Professional installation or application may come with a warranty, but DIY solutions may be preferred, especially during the COVID pandemic.
Lastly, your basement waterproofing will be cheaper if you don’t needlessly stack solutions. You can install a gutter system and French drain, install dampproofing, an exterior waterproof membrane, concrete sealer, and a waterproof paint to create the best waterproofing system possible.
However, you may not need such extensive measures if you just have a moisture problem and no active leaking.
It’s best to solve the root cause of the problem and then treat your basement walls based on the issue. Taking the necessary measures and going overboard could mean tens of thousands of dollars saved.
If you live in accessory dwelling unit (ADU), reach out to an ADU contractor for more information on basement costs in ADUs.