I Have Water in My Basement, Now What?

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 27 seconds

Obvious Water Problem in Basement

Water enters basements in a variety of ways. I wrote an informative article on ways it enters our homes. This article focuses on how to take preventative actions.

In Boise, Idaho, we live on the edge of a desert; and we have fairly sandy soil, which is a good thing. Most older homes have never had any moisture proofing needs, and many have basements. The most we are used to seeing is some mineral effervescence from moisture passing through the concrete foundation walls. Other than making paint impossible to stick to, it causes little harm. Over the years it may break down the concrete and require patching or replacement in severe situations.

When acute water enters the home it can usually be tied to an event.  A hose left on next to the foundation. Torrential downpour for a day or so. Rapid snow thaw. A sprinkler head broken off. You get the idea.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to dealing with water in basements. Inside Job or Outside Job?  Prevention or Acceptance? It is not always black and white, and often we take multiple approaches to ensure success.

Hillsides are a special challenge and may require retaining walls. We used several redundant systems on a newly created basement where flooding was a common occurrence.


Prevention includes anticipating that there will be a problem and then blocking moisture from entering in the first place. Therefore, it is an outside job. This is best done during construction, normally it is the last thing that needs to be done. Provided that the redundant systems that are installed work, there need only be routine maintenance. If a failure occurs, like a tree root growing into the foundation after settling cracks them, we must move on to acceptance. This does not mean giving up, it just takes a different approach.

Examples of prevention include


  • French drain system hooked to downspouts
  • Positive drain grade away from home.
  • Directing sprinklers away from home.
  • Gutters.
  • Grading and drain swale.
  • Proper sub-grade window wells and drainage plan
  • Down spouts being piped away from the basement
  • Tar parging
  • Bituthane or other rubberized membrane
  • Sheet drain
  • Diatomaceous earth rope in key way of footing to stem wall connection
  • Dry wells
  • External pumping stations.


Acceptance, on the other hand, is primarily an inside job. Once you determine that attacking from the outside is a more expensive way to go, or there is no access, IE the water is coming in through the floor, you must attack the problem from the inside.

The principle is that water is going to get in via cracks or increased pressure or you name it. Then we take control of it and pump it out before it causes damage in our homes. One caveat is to pump uphill as little as possible. Gravity is your friend on a hillside, use it!

Examples of acceptance include

  1. Perimeter trench with piping to the collection area.
  2. Deep well collection area.
  3. Sump Pump.
  4. Dry-Loc paint
  5. Xypex or other specialized interior coatings.
  6. As a bonus a small fan can be added to eliminate Radon Gas (Radon is a know carcinogen that is emitted from the earth)

Removing water from a basement is challenging process. It is costly but worth every cent. Having a usable space within the footprint of your home is the cheapest square foot addition you can do. The days of the scary basement should be a thing of the past.

Let us evaluate your basement for refinishing. These spaces can be warm and inviting if given the proper attention. With the addition of an egress window, there is safety, security, and natural lighting.

If you have a damp, wet, or scary basement in the Boise area, and need to get it evaluated for repair, please contact us right away at 208-947-7261


Disclaimer: Some of these images came from the WEB. If they are yours, and you object to them being used, please claim them and I will gladly remove them at once.

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