The Inspector’s Basement Waterproofing Checklist

inspecting a home

If you look carefully around your basement, you’ll be able to notice when something’s gone wrong. A professional inspector can do so even more effectively while also providing you with the means to repair the damage done.

What does a basement inspection entail?

Starting with The Joints

When inspecting your basement, a professional will need to start with its weakest points. Your joints and walls are the most likely elements to suffer when exposed to pressure or natural forces.

That said, the different types of cracks that these elements can suffer will tell you more about what kind of problems you may be dealing with. Of the cracks that your basement can suffer from, the most common include:

  • Horizontal cracks – Horizontal cracks tend to form as a result of excessive hydrostatic pressure. This pressure can build up in saturated soil outside of your home during storms or when snow starts to melt and causes your walls and joints to develop cracks.
  • Vertical cracks – Vertical cracks tend to form when the team who built your home or installed your supports failed to use the appropriate materials to do their jobs. You may have green wood, for example, bearing the weight of your home when it’s not meant to.
  • Diagonal cracks – Diagonal cracks are like horizontal cracks in that they form when hydrostatic pressure builds up outside of your home. That said, diagonal cracks suggest that one side of your home is suffering from more pressure or settlement than the other.
  • Stair-step cracks – If you have a foundation made of brick and mortar, hydrostatic pressure will cause your damage to develop along existing mortar lines, as these will break the most easily.

That said, inspectors can sometimes make it through your home before a crack starts to develop. In these cases, they’ll need to look for other symptoms of damage to determine whether or not something’s gone wrong in your home. Other signs that give away basement damage include:

  • Decreasing temperatures in your basement
  • Foggy windows
  • Sticking doors
  • Warped wooden frames
  • Damaged belongings
  • Mold clusters
  • Unpleasant smells

Checking Your Sump Pump

After looking over your joints and walls, an inspector will need to test your sump pump for overall functionality. If your sump pump starts to fail, it can pump water back into your home instead of removing it through discharge lines. It is important to have a sump pump that is in working order if you want to keep your basement from falling victim to flooding and other damage.

Assessing Your Plumbing for Damage

Professionals will also need to look over your plumbing when inspecting your basement. In doing so, they can make sure any existing moisture in the air hasn’t weakened the flow of water throughout your home. If your pipes are over-exposed to moisture, they can start to leak, which will raise the humidity in your home.

The easiest way to determine whether or not your plumbing is in good condition is to test its pressure throughout your home.

Checking Your Insulation

If you’re looking for a waterproofing additive to help keep your home dry, waterproof insulation can serve you well. You’ll always need to invest in some kind of insulation to help control the temperature inside your home. When that insulation is hydrophobic, it can keep moisture in your home to a minimum. That said, insulation that falls victim to water damage – like soft fiberglass insulation – can also rapidly become the perfect incubator for all types of mold.

Inspectors will need to inspect both your insulation and the surrounding drywall to make sure your insulation is still doing its job properly.

Looking at Your Foundation and Structural Supports

If an inspector can’t find a problem with your basement but you’re still seeing signs of damage throughout your home, you may need to take things deeper. This means letting an inspector explore your structural supports and foundation, if applicable. This process is typically light on excavation, but you will need to determine what kind of foundation your home has and whether previous owners have invested in any piering or other foundation repair efforts.

Updating Your Waterproofing Measures

Finally, contractors will often conclude a basement inspection by looking over any existing waterproofing measures you may have invested in. Some waterproofing solutions are long-lasting, and others need some maintenance and tune-ups from time to time. Inspectors will be able to tell you when the time’s come to invest in a replacement and whether there are alternative measures that can perhaps better protect your home from water damage.

Basement inspections can help keep your home safe from more significant damage down the line. If you want to set up an appointment for a free inspection and repair quote in Raleigh, NC, the professional foundation and basement contractors at Tar Heel Basement Systems are more than ready to help you protect your home’s value.