Foundation waterproofing can be expensive business, costing on average around $4,000. If you need hydraulic piers to raise your home while repairs are taking place, the price can easily go about $10,000 for the project.
The signs to look for when it comes to damage in your foundation are:
Aside from natural disasters like earthquakes, the most common causes of damage to foundations of homes are soil content and excess moisture. In fact, the problem with soil content is also water-related, since too much (or too little) water in the soil leads to undue pressure on the foundation.
Having water in the foundation of your home is caused at some level by hydrostatic pressure. This is the name for the pressure that water exerts when it is concentrated in one place and unable to move. Hydrostatic pressure can be immensely powerful. After all, it was hydrostatic pressure that built the Grand Canyon.
Over time, if water continues to build up, the hydrostatic pressure will increase on your foundation; water will then eventually force its way through via seepage, or force entry by cracking the foundation.
Some of the most common causes of hydrostatic pressure are:
PROBLEMS THAT STEM FROM WATER IN FOUNDATION
So if you get water in your foundation, what’s the problem? Well, it turns out, the problems are fairly extensive. It’s not the case that water will just evaporate or dry out and everything will go back to normal. The problems are many, and almost all of them are expensive to address.
DAMAGE TO THE STRUCTURE OF THE HOUSE
Even if water doesn’t permeate into your home, the pressure it causes on your foundation can cause stress on the structure of your home. This can, ironically, be exacerbated by the water evaporating (for example, during warmer weather).
The sudden removal of hydrostatic pressure can lead to as many problems as the hydrostatic pressure itself.
If water seeps into the structure, it rarely does it evenly. This creates tension in the structure of the house and can lead to issues like horizontal fissures.
When the water does get into your home, it creates cracks in the foundation structure (particularly if you live in an area that has regular freezing temperatures).
As well as damaging things like electrical wiring, a small amount of water in your foundation can make way for a large amount of water very quickly.
Put another way, water in and around your foundation is a very bad thing. Moreover, it’s an issue you need to address very quickly. The sooner you catch water in your foundation, the cheaper it is to fix. This also applies to preventative measures.
Below is a series of ways in which you can waterproof your foundation, preventing any sort of damage from occurring.
Paints and Primers:
The easiest – and most common – waterproofing attempt for foundations is to use waterproofing paint. These types of paints are very thick versions of regular acrylic paint. To apply waterproof paint, you simply layer it onto the wall as you would with a normal paint job. For the best possible coverage, wait for the first coat to dry and then go over it again for a second coat.
COST: Waterproofing paint ranges in price from $10 per quart to $195 for more high-quality and niche options. You can usually apply the paint yourself, removing the labor costs.
Waterproof paints and primers do not stop water from entering the foundation walls of your home from the exterior, so don’t solve structural issues. Moreover, if and when water does enter the walls, it will form bubbles under the paint, eventually leading to the paint cracking off the wall.
Most damagingly, waterproof paint leads to water being ‘trapped’ in your wall, which can cause bigger problems if left unchecked.
Exterior French Drainage System:
Then you install a pipe with an input near the foundation, so that water drains into the pipe and is taken away from your home.
COST: If you use a professional landscaper to install a French drain, it’ll cost between $10 and $30 a linear foot. Generally, therefore, you should expect to pay somewhere between $300 and $1,500 for the project.
French drains can be difficult to install. If you have tree roots in your yard, then digging a trench can be extremely difficult – even for a professional. In addition, they can easily become clogged, either by mud or other debris. If they do get clogged or blocked, they will back up very quickly, which potentially causes a greater problem than you had in the first place.
One of the best long-term solutions for water in your basement is to install a sump pump. These are pumps that lie in a pit within your basement (i.e. below floor level, allowing water to pool there). These pumps then push water out of your home.
Many modern sump pumps come with automatic switches that kick into action when the water reaches a certain level. This means you can rest easy knowing that your basement won’t be flooded even if you’re not there to monitor the situation.
See our guide for an overview of the best sump pumps for your basement.
COST: The average cost of a sump pump is around $1,000, with a range of between $950 and $1,500. This includes the cost of installation, although the final price will be driven by your specific requirements.
Sump pumps require a sump pit to be present in your basement. If you don’t have one, then you will need to excavate one, which can be extremely expensive. Some sump pumps also cease working when the electricity is down, meaning that during storms and other adverse weather (i.e. precisely when you may need them to work) they are out of order.
A further problem is that a sump pump doesn’t solve the problem of water in the structure of your home.
Exterior Basement Wall Treatment:
One fairly dramatic option is to excavate the area around your home and to install waterproofing on the exterior of your basement. This is obviously a disruptive (and expensive) process. This process has three steps to it.
These three actions work together to provide an effective long-term solution. Not only do large amounts of water get removed from around your home, but the waterproofing paint stops even the smallest amount entering your foundation walls, thus preventing structural damage.
COST: As is perhaps to be expected, this is the most expensive option, coming in at between $9,000 and $15,000. Most of the cost is in the labor, particularly given you need to excavate the total perimeter of your home.
The biggest limitation of this course of action is the cost and the disruption. Having to excavate the perimeter of your home is highly disruptive. Moreover, if you have existing structural damage, this will not address any weaknesses in the foundation.
That said, if you want to prevent water damage to your foundations, this is one of the best long-term options.
Ultimately, although some of the ways of waterproofing the foundation of your home are expensive, they are still the cheapest option. Ignoring the problem will lead to far greater issues in the long-term. Indeed, it’s better to think of foundation waterproofing as a long-term investment in the health (and value) of your home.