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The Ultimate Guide to Basement Wall Types: Block Vs. Poured Concrete

damp, porous concrete wall in basement

The way your home was constructed could end up causing problems. Concrete is the material of choice for many structures—including floors and walls—but its properties can lead to significant damage.

Concrete is naturally permeable, and porous concrete walls contribute to problems like basement leaks and elevated humidity.

This article explores the intricacies of your basement walls, how porous walls impact you, and how local basement waterproofing specialists can help you fight back against the damage.

How Are Basement Walls Constructed?

Basements come in all shapes, sizes, and construction methods, but most are built with one of these materials:

Concrete Block Walls

cracking concrete block basement wall with efflorescence stains

Construction crews build block foundation walls by placing hollow concrete blocks onto one another and joining them together using mortar. These walls sit on top of footings that builders dig up and pour beforehand. Each row of blocks forms its course until the wall reaches the height that the basement requires.  

Block foundation walls are rather common, and rebar (reinforcing steel rods) is used to strengthen them. Unfortunately, block walls are no strangers to various problems, including leaks, cracks, inward movement, and pest intrusion. 

Poured Concrete Walls

leaking poured concrete basement wall

Builders construct poured concrete walls by pouring cement into wooden frames. One of the main reasons for their good reputation is their ability to provide better lateral strength than their block counterparts. They are also more resistant to hydrostatic pressure

Another feature that sets them apart from some other types of walls is their lack of joints. This allows professionals to waterproof them with little to no fuss. While they are quick to install and versatile, they are also prone to leaks and chipping.

How Do Walls Become Porous? 

From the outside, concrete walls appear to be perfectly sturdy and even, but, in reality, they are filled with small holes from which the water pours into the basement and further into your home. When the concrete is poured, it’s still wet and the excess water from it will evaporate within days. 

This leads to the wall being full of small pores that can store water and from which water can come into your home. Cement also contains calcium. That’s the main ingredient of the paste that will keep the wall together. Calcium is dissolved in water over time, meaning that the wall will become more porous as it comes into contact with more water. 

Problems with Porous Concrete Walls

Moisture is your home’s No. 1 enemy, and porous concrete walls provide an avenue for it to enter and affect your basement in many ways, including:

4 Ways to Address Porous Concrete Walls

It’s not realistic to replace the walls in your basement, but there are things you can do to minimize the effects of porous concrete walls and protect your basement.

As soon as you notice water in your basement or the symptoms listed above, contact basement waterproofing professionals like Tar Heel Basement Systems for assistance. After evaluating your home, we’ll recommend customized water management solutions, including:

interior drainage, sump pump, and wall vapor barrier installed in a basement
  • Interior Drainage: Installed beneath the basement slab, an interior drainage system collects leaking water and directs it to a sump pump, moving it away from the basement where it can’t cause any damage.
  • Sump Pumps: A sump pump is a machine that’s used to pump out the water gathered in your interior drainage system. The water is pumped out through drainage pipes and directed to discharge far away from your home so it cannot damage the walls.
  • Wall Vapor Barriers: Attaching a vapor barrier to basement walls creates a new level of waterproofing that directs water toward the drainage system.
  • Dehumidifiers: An energy-efficient dehumidifier further controls moisture and humidity levels in your basement. A reliable unit should also purify the air and help prevent mold, mildew, and musty odors.

Tar Heel Basement Systems Protects Your Basement Walls!

A concrete wall can be porous due to its material, which is why a home needs a drainage system to keep below-grade levels dry and structurally sound. It’s best to start with a free inspection from your local basement waterproofing professionals at Tar Heel Basement Systems.

An expert will help you find a drainage system best suited to your basement and the level of humidity you’re dealing with. North Carolina homeowners have trusted us to repair and protect their homes for over 20 years. You can experience the same excellence too!

Basement Waterproofing FAQs

The presence of moisture on your basement walls can indicate underlying structural issues within your home. Cracks in the basement walls and foundation are the most common culprits, but these can stem from various causes. Factors such as hydrostatic pressure, flaws in the poured concrete walls, settlement, and abnormally heavy rainfall can all contribute to this type of damage.

Investing in basement waterproofing is a valuable decision. When your basement is secure, it preserves your home’s structural integrity and adds value, making it more attractive to potential buyers.

DIY basement waterproofing is not recommended. While sealing basement walls might provide a temporary solution, it doesn’t tackle the underlying issue. Contact a professional who can identify the source of moisture and propose a comprehensive waterproofing approach.

Related Resources

Holly Richards-Purpura

Holly Richards-Purpura

Content Writer

Holly is a Content Writer for Groundworks who has written and edited web content for the foundation services industry for almost 10 years. With a background in journalism, her passion for the written word runs deep. Holly lives in Columbus, OH, with her husband. Along with educating homeowners, she also has a big heart for the Big Apple.

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