Basement Waterproofing and French Drains

Cost-effective Solutions by Ask Lon!

Water entering basement through wall crack

A good customer called asking if I could find and repair a leak in her basement.

Here’s a comprehensive list of questions and answers designed to provide simple cost-effective waterproofing solutions.

And by the way…I charge around $250.00 to repair a typical interior wall crack.

Question: How and why is water suddenly entering my basement?

Answer:  Let’s start by examining the home’s exterior.

  • Are gutters and downspouts clear of leaves and functioning properly?
  • Are gutter extensions attached and directed 8 feet away from the home?
  • Are there any gaps between the sidewalk and the foundation that need filling?
  • Were there, or are there trees or large shrubs near the home?
  • Is the dirt around the home at least 2 inches below the framing and pitched away?
  • Are basement window wells clear of debris, aerated and are drains functioning?
  • Has a second story been added to your home?
  • Has there been any major construction project near your home which may have caused the foundation to shift?

It is important to determine the exterior source of basement leaks and eliminate them. Sometimes discovery can be a bit bizarre too; here’s an example.  We learned that a customer’s (3rd floor condo) interior walls were getting wet because brick and mortar were loosed by a construction project a block away. Iron beams were being pounded into the ground during construction of a new strip mall shook loose the facade!   The condo association was able to have the entire facade redone and the interior walls repaired, paid for by the mall developer.

Question: What do we do about with the water in the basement?

Answer: In my lifetime, entire industries have been born to address this concern. Waterproofing, sump pumps and interior subterranean water canals have exploded onto the screen. Systems costing thousands of dollars have produced impressive marketing campaign’s designed to help us “sleep better at night”.  What a waste!

But these millionaires don’t answer the basic question “how do I keep water out of my home?”   Perhaps it’s because…it costs much less to install a system to keep water out, than it does – to pump it out!

So, once you have determined the reason you suddenly have water in the basement let’s move on to methods of keeping water out, and then crack repair.

Question: “Lon, what is a French Drain and how can it help keep water out of the basement?”

Answer: A French drain uses a narrow ditch filled with gravel, sand or stones to funnel water into a drainage pipe underneath. The pipe is generally made from PVC and has small perforations to allow the water to seep in.

The French drain is named after its inventor, Henry French, a native of Concord, Massachusetts. Since 1859, French drains are used as a simple way to drain water from one area to another. While there have been minor refinements over the years, the basic principles remain the same even today.

Some common uses of French drains include diverting water from behind a retaining wall, redirecting ground water run-off to a garden irrigation system and protecting a home’s foundation from water damage.

Ask Lon installs French drains approximately 10 inches deep by 15 inches wide around the perimeter to direct excess water away from your home.  Consider the savings – no sump pump, no battery backup to worry about and no daily electric usage, talk about a Green Solution!  Call me to learn if this simple solution is right for your home – free estimate!

Question: How do we repair a crack in the wall?

Answer: There are basically three options that make sense with each being marketed under countless brand names and they are:

  • Epoxy
  • Polyurethane Foam Injection
  • Hydraulic Cement

Once again, the industry is ripe with manufacturers, retailers and installers trying to make a buck so read the directions thoroughly as you can void a warranty in a heartbeat. Ask Lon has researched countless brands and tested about a dozen products to date and here are my findings:

Hydraulic Cement:  when properly applied can last for up to 10 years or more and is inexpensive.

Polyurethane Foam Injection: when properly applied can last for the life of the home. However, the external use of open cell foam is highly discouraged and only closed cell foam is recommended should the crack extend to the outside of your home.

Epoxy: When properly installed, epoxy is the logical and cost-effective solution.

  • Its ability to bind to poured concrete, concrete block or brick is unequaled
  • Provides improved structural integrity
  • Is water resistant and repellent
  • When properly applied it will last a lifetime

Question: Can I fix the basement crack myself?

Answer:  Yes and no. I cannot recommend this to the novice or even the weekend warrior for several reasons. You only get one shot at doing this correctly, once the epoxy hits the wall it better be right! There are some specialized tools which will produce the desired result which you might never need again. The success and longevity of this project begins and ends with “site preparation”.

And of the utmost importance, if the crack is more than ¼ inch in diameter it could be a structural issue which needs to be addressed by a professional before you repair the crack.

We hope you found this information useful and if you don’t want to tackle it yourself give us a call @ (847)636-0771


Lon Thomas
Ask Lon!

Basement crack repaired!