Waterproofing concrete, whether in a new construction build or on a restoration project, will help to ensure that your concrete doesn’t leak.
Waterproofing is something that can be done to fix a leak, or it can be done as a preventive measure to ensure that there aren’t any leaks. In most cases, waterproofing is a type of maintenance that will need to be kept up with. Most waterproofing solutions will last for a long time, but will still need to be checked on to ensure that water is kept out.
How to Waterproof Concrete
The best way to ensure that your structure is waterproofed correctly is to hire a professional waterproofing company. Water mitigation at any scale is no small task. Hiring a company that knows what they’re doing will ensure that proper waterproofing systems are installed and that your structure won’t experience any leaks anytime soon.
The steps for waterproofing concrete depend primarily on how large the structure is and if you’re installing before or after construction is complete. We’ll cover the steps of both before and after as well as some of the popular waterproofing materials and methods.
Concrete Waterproofing Methods
A good waterproofing product will be tested with both an absorption and permeability test. These tests will help to ensure that water isn’t going to penetrate through the barrier, even under pressure. This test is essential when waterproofing foundation walls. Here are some of the common waterproofing methods.
Sheet membranes are a common way to waterproof. Not only do they offer great water resistance, but they’re also fairly easy to install. To install a sheet membrane against your foundation, all you have to do is have the foundation dug out. Then you can apply the sheet membranes to the concrete walls. The challenge with sheet membranes is that they need to be sealed and lapped on the seams, corners, edges, and between sheets. Like most things, it is all in the details.
Liquid Applied Waterproofing
Liquid applied waterproofing is commonly used on any structure. This liquid can be applied with a brush, spray, roller, trowel, or squeegee. In order to successfully apply this material, you’ll need to have a good understanding of how to apply it uniformly with the proper thickness. Liquid applied waterproofing is definitely one of the most popular solutions for buildings that have multiple plane transitions and more complex geometric changes in the surface of the structure.
Although this is a popular product, it’s not as commonly used as waterproofing membranes because it can be more difficult to install.
The Challenges of DIY Concrete Waterproofing
Concrete waterproofing is no small task. When you need to waterproof your concrete, most often, it’s below grade and you’ll need to excavate your foundation. Using an excavator is always an option, but the rental fees are expensive. Not to mention, if you were to make a mistake, it’s possible that you could permanently damage your foundation. For this reason, in most cases, using a hand shovel and wheelbarrow is the best option.
We found this great story of a successful DIY concrete waterproofing job that illustrates a great example of all the work that could go into a successful water mitigation strategy. It’s not impossible to waterproof concrete on your own, but it is time-intensive and takes a good bit of research to ensure that the project is getting done right.
Steps to Concrete Waterproofing
If your basement starts leaking, fixing the leak is a time-sensitive matter. Whether you hire a professional or choose to manage the project on your own, the steps will be very similar.
Dry the Moisture
After a big rain or spring thaw, you might wake up to water in your basement. This is a sure sign that you’ll need to waterproof your concrete, but before you can get started, you’ll need to remove as much moisture from indoors as possible. A good way to do this is to use a dehumidifier or two and, in some cases, a bucket and mop. If your sump pump can’t keep up and there’s standing water, it’s best to call in a professional company that can suck the water out.
Dig Out the Foundation
After you’ve taken care of the majority of the moisture that’s inside, you can move to the outside and start digging out the foundation. Depending on how big of an area of the structure that is leaking, this could take some time. A professional water leak detection company will be able to locate the leak more easily, and companies like Spec 7 Group can offer a minimally invasive fix to your water problems without digging up too much of the area around your foundation.
Clean Foundation + Check for Cracks
After everything is dug out, you’ll want to clean the foundation and check for cracks. You can clean the foundation using a pressure washer or other similar tool. It’s important to be intentional about not getting too much water into the trench around the foundation. Checking for cracks and damage to your foundation will help you to understand what needs to be done and what’s wrong with your foundation.
Waterproof Concrete Walls
The next part is by far the most time-consuming. Depending on how in-depth you’re looking to go, this process could have several steps. A professional company is going to repair any cracks or damage that the foundation has sustained. They’ll apply a treatment to the concrete and then, in most cases, install a sheet membrane along the foundation wall. Different jobs may require different waterproofing materials based on where the structure is located on the water table or how bad the leak has been.
Backfill the Foundation
After the project is finished, it’s time to backfill. You might be tempted to put the soil that you took out back into the pit around the foundation. It might work to do that, and it’s definitely cheaper. It could lead to damage in the future. Moist backfilled soil isn’t optimized to drain properly and move soil away from the structure. Instead, using pea rock or gravel is often the best solution.
If you’re struggling with a leak or need help waterproofing your concrete contact Spec 7 today. We offer waterproofing services for all different types of structures and problems. Reach out to us for all of your water mitigation needs.