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Six Design Mistakes That Can Make A Basement More Susceptible To Water Damage

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The best time to think about basement waterproofing is when a basement is being designed or refinished. Preventing water damage in a basement is always better than dealing with it once it has occurred.

During basement design and refinishing, it's important to avoid the following six mistakes to make a basement as impenetrable to water as possible. 

Installing insulation that contains organic materials

Insulation that is exposed to moisture can begin to deteriorate or rot if it contains organic materials. Traditional fiberglass insulation often contains some organic material so that it can develop mold and other problems if it becomes moistened.

A truly waterproofed basement shouldn't contain any insulation with organic substances inside. These days, there are insulation types manufactured that are entirely non-organic so that they stand up to moisture exposure better.

Using wooden studs instead of metal studs

In a basement, metal studs are always preferable to wooden studs. Basement studs are the most likely in the house to be exposed to water due to flooding or other issues. Studs are also an important structural element of a home.

When the wood has become exposed to moisture, it is likely that it will begin to warp or rot. Therefore, in the design phase of planning a basement, it always improves waterproofing efforts if metal studs are used.

Not putting enough thought into the drainage

A basement should be designed with drainage features that will naturally remove built-up water before it causes problems. This means drains should be installed and the ground should ideally slope slightly downward toward the drains so that stagnant water can't accumulate on a basement floor. 

Using cement to seal cold joints

While a cement sealer can be helpful to deal with moisture control issues in a basement, it should not be used for cold joints or the gap between the floor and wall.

Water that is able to get in between this gap will simply make its way around the sealer if there is enough pressure. The way to deal with water seeping into the floor is through proper drainage rather than through applying a sealer to cold joints. 

Neglecting to slope the grade away from the home

The basement's construction itself is not the only thing that impacts how resistant to water damage a basement is. Another important factor is the landscaping.

A home's landscape should be designed to slope slightly downhill from the home's elevated perimeter. This will help water to naturally drain away from a home rather than toward it. 

Neglecting to apply sealants as part of the basement construction or finishing process

As part of finishing up basement construction, sealants need to be applied on any cracks in walls or in the foundation itself. Also, sealants may need to be reapplied over time as wear and tear in a house removes old sealant or creates new cracks.