Basement Waterproofing for Homeowners: Your Complete, In-Depth Guide

You just experienced a heavy rain. Sure enough, the basement is leaking again, and the typical puddles are along the perimeter. Off you go with the shop vac to clean it up.

Leaky basements may be common, but they’re not “normal.” Moisture encourages mold and mildew growth, which isn’t good for your health. A leaky basement can also damage your belongings, and worst of all, it can cause lasting damage to your home.

Is it time to think about basement waterproofing? If so, don’t worry. Quality solutions may cost less than you think, can save you money in the long run, and can even increase the value of your home.

What is Basement Waterproofing?

Basement waterproofing is a process that helps prevent water leaks in your basement, protecting the interior from damage that may not only harm your belongings but also reduce the integrity of your foundation.

There are many waterproofing methods you can use, but the overall goal is to keep the water out while making the basement a comfortable, healthy, and safe space in your home.

A real waterproofed basement completed by the Erie Home team. We see the white encapsulation on the walls. Attached to the wall is the air filter system.

Why Waterproof Your Basement?

Waterproofing your basement costs money, so it makes sense to question the need. Is it really necessary?

Many homeowners accept that their basements are damp, leaky, and moldy in places, but living with the problem isn’t a good idea.

Water can be dangerous to your home’s structural integrity, and it’s not just the occasional flood that can cause serious issues. Even a little water coming in fairly regularly can put your walls and foundation at risk.

When moisture is trapped in the small porous surfaces of cement, it can freeze and melt over the winter months, causing expansion and contraction. Eventually, that will create cracks in the foundation, leading to costly repairs.

Leaking water can also warp boards, cause walls to rot and bow inward, and lead to other structural problems that affect your home’s integrity.

Maybe you don’t see any water, but you see stains on the walls. That’s another sign that you have a leak—even if you don’t have puddles. Water stains on the floor indicate that moisture is seeping through your foundation, and that’s a problem that will only get worse with time.

A humid basement can result from too much moisture in the air, and it sets up the ideal conditions for mold growth. You may not see it, but it could take up residence behind the walls where it may continue to grow and thrive.

A flooded basement. We see water about 1 inch deep on concrete.

Harmful particles in your basement are likely to circulate throughout the rest of your home through your HVAC system, contributing to indoor air pollution. Pollutant sources include combustion sources like oil, gas, coal, and wood as well as chemicals and toxins such as lead dust, radon, formaldehyde, exhaust, asbestos, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from upholstery, adhesives, carpeting, appliances, cleaning agents, pesticides, and more.

These particles make your home dusty and significantly decrease the air quality in your home, creating a health hazard for your family. Exposure to these toxins and chemicals can lead to symptoms such as headaches, cough, fatigue, nausea, and more. If you have visible mold, it can cause allergic reactions, respiratory problems, and in severe cases, fungal infections that can lead to more serious illnesses.

Your basement is a valuable part of your home’s interior space and a significant contributor to its value. Waterproofing it safeguards its integrity, ensuring that the space will be useable for decades to come.

Common Methods of Basement Waterproofing

There are different types of waterproofing techniques you can choose for your basement. Which one is right for you will depend on many factors, including the soil and climate type in your area, the type of foundation you have, and any leaks you need to address.

Below are some of the most common basement waterproofing methods available today.

Basic Preventative Measures

If you notice water in your basement, start by checking around outside the house.

Your gutters, for example, may not be draining properly. They play a significant role in directing water away from your home, so water may pool around the foundation if they’re not doing their job. Maybe your gutters are clogged and causing water leaks, or they could be damaged and need repair.

The ground surrounding your house is the next place to look. Ideally, the land slopes away, encouraging water to flow away too. Over time, if the ground has settled and created areas that slope inward toward your home, the flow of water could also be directed toward your foundation.

How are your flower beds? If you planted shrubs too close to the house, the roots will grow near the foundation. Water follows the roots and could create pressure on the foundation, leading to leaks.

Finally, check your window wells. If you have inadequate drainage around them, that could result in water buildup and leaks, particularly during winter thaws or heavy spring rains. Examine the window and the seal to ensure they aren’t letting moisture through.

Look at the well itself. Do you see a buildup of leaves and debris? Addressing these issues can help prevent water from coming into the basement around the window area.

All homeowners can benefit from checking these areas. If you see issues, take these steps:

  • Gutters: Clear out any clogs, repair any damage, and replace your gutters if needed.
  • Ground slope: Build up the soil in low areas so the ground slopes away from your home.
  • Flower beds: Remove any large bushes that may be causing problems and replant them elsewhere.
  • Window wells: Clean out debris and repair or replace faulty window wells.

Exterior Waterproofing

Exterior waterproofing is a rather extensive process that gets down to the root of the water leakage around the outside of the foundation.

Exterior waterproofing methods are often the most expensive and complex because they involve disrupting the ground around your home and getting close to the foundation. However, these methods can be effective, as they prevent water and moisture from ever coming into contact with your basement, thereby solving the problem at its source.

A professional will inspect the inside and outside of your home to pinpoint the root cause of the problem. If recommended, exterior waterproofing may involve excavating around the foundation, applying a waterproof coating or membrane, and installing drainage systems that will direct the water away from your home.

When done correctly, exterior waterproofing can keep your basement dry for years to come, but there are three primary disadvantages to this method. One, it’s often very costly. Two, it tends to be very disruptive to your home life. And three, the drainage systems may be prone to clogging, which can result in water issues down the road.

Interior Basement Waterproofing

Interior basement waterproofing, as opposed to exterior, attacks the problem from inside the house. It captures water at the most common point of entry—the joint between the wall and the floor. It is typically the best option for most homeowners because it’s more cost-effective and less disruptive than exterior waterproofing.

Interior basement waterproofing may include any or all of the following methods.

Crack Repair

Addressing any cracks in the foundation is often the first step. A professional will inspect the cracks, determine how deep they are, and perform the best type of repair to ensure they no longer leak water.

You can try to repair cracks on your own by using sealants and epoxy injections, but these often offer only temporary fixes, as the material may crack later when the foundation walls expand and contract.

Professional waterproofing experts will have lasting solutions that help prevent leaks without future cracking.

Drainage System

Once all the cracks are repaired, it’s time to install a drainage system. This will take whatever water happens to seep into the basement and redirect it away from the home. The most common types of systems include the following.

Floor Drain

Floor drains are round or square grates found in the floor itself. They capture any water that runs toward them and direct it out of the basement. Though they effectively absorb and redirect water caused by heavy rainstorms, they don’t help as much with smaller amounts of water that collect inside the walls.

This type of drainage system is commonly installed when building a home. The floor drain lies below the basement floor, usually at the lowest part of the basement.

French Drain (or Drain Tiles)

A French drain consists of two essential parts:

1.     A trench around the edge of the basement

2.     PVC pipes embedded in gravel inside that trench that slope toward a drainage point

The drain is usually designed to be about 6-24 inches deep, and can also control water seepage through the walls.

When installed on the home’s exterior, this type of system is usually called a French drain, but when installed inside the basement, the more common term is “interior drain tiles.” Both systems involve a trench and pipes nestled in gravel.

This type of solution is highly effective for relieving water pressure against the foundation and preventing seepage into the basement. If you install this system, you usually don’t need any other type of waterproofing, and you won’t have to do any excavation on the outside of the home.

Sump Pump

Capturing the water is only one part of the process. The other part is redirecting the water away from the home, and this typically involves installing a sump pump. Its job is to send water outside of the house by pumping it out of the basement and directing it away.

Some sump pumps are hidden, while others may be mounted on a pedestal. The submersible types sit in a large ditch on the basement floor; a floater monitors the water level and then powers on the motor when needed.

The pedestal types may also sit in a ditch, but the motor is held above the trench.

Be aware that some jurisdictions may require you to have a sump pump installed in your basement, so be sure to check with your local authority to remain compliant with all applicable laws.


A drainwall is a channeled waterproofing panel that is permanently attached to the foundation wall.

The raised bubbles on the back of the panel let water flow down into the subfloor drainage system. This contributes to the system’s overall efficiency, protects the basement from water damage, and offers a clean, white finish to basement walls.


Quality basement (or crawl space) water solutions (like those from Erie Home) sometimes include encapsulation as part of the installation process. Once the drainage system is installed, contractors will cover the walls and floor with a thick plastic sheeting that keeps water out.

It helps stop moisture and gas infiltration while keeping the underground area clean and dry. Most types also have a coating that deters mold growth and preserves the material against decay.

Can I Waterproof My Basement Myself?

It is possible to waterproof your basement yourself, but it’s not advisable.

As a homeowner, you may assume that you have water in your basement because you have cracks or crevices in the floor. So you repair those, thinking that will solve the problem. You can use coatings, waterproofing paint, and sealants to do so.

You might also install a dehumidifier to help reduce the moisture in the air and deter mold and mildew growth.

These steps can help, but they won’t consider other potential issues you may have going on, like leaking window wells, mold in the walls, unseen foundation cracks, and more.

When you hire a professional waterproofing company, experienced contractors will thoroughly inspect both your home’s interior and exterior to discover any problems that may be present. Then they’ll help you address those issues before installing a waterproofing solution that will prevent any leakage in the future.

At Erie Home, for example, we repair any underlying structural damage first, address mold growth, and ensure your foundation is in good shape before proceeding with waterproofing techniques. Our work is also guaranteed for 25 years, so you can rest assured that your home is protected for decades to come.

How Much Does Basement Waterproofing Cost?

The cost of waterproofing your basement will vary, depending on a number of factors, such as:

  • The type of solution you choose
  • The contractor you use
  • Your basement’s size
  • How much water you may have to deal with in your area
  • Types of materials used
  • The cost of any repairs that first be completed

It’s also worth noting that basement waterproofing typically costs more in flood-prone areas, as waterproofing services are in higher demand.

Finally, what the company offers in its basement waterproofing solution will affect the cost. You may be tempted to go for the cheapest option, but to save yourself from increased expenses down the road, make sure you’re getting a quality solution that will last.

Remember that waterproofing your home, like many major home improvements, is an investment that will increase the value of your property over time.

The Erie Home Basement Waterproofing Solution

Erie Home specializes in comprehensive basement waterproofing systems that safeguard your home and prevent expensive damage to your foundation. Our team will repair any cracks that may already exist and then eliminate future threats with our unique channeling system that directs water away from your home.

We offer ultra-durable, premium products that meet the industry’s highest standards, expert installation and maintenance, and convenient financing. Our work is also backed by a 25-year warranty and free follow-up inspection after the first year.

Don’t wait for your basement to start leaking—contact us today for a free estimate!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you finish a basement without waterproofing?

Yes, you can, but you may be setting yourself up for more expense later on. Mold, pests, and leakage can damage your foundation and the valued items stored in your basement and negatively affect your family’s health. It’s best to waterproof your basement before finishing it.

How do you know if your basement needs waterproofing?

Any signs of water leakage into your home can be potentially dangerous. Usually, the problem will get worse over time and may lead to structural damage. Watch for leaks, puddles, water stains, condensation on windows and doors, cracking on the floors or walls, swelling or warped doors, and a smell of dampness that doesn’t go away.

Does waterproofing a basement increase home value?

According to home and garden organization Angi, you can expect a return on investment (ROI) of about 30 percent from a basement waterproofing job. This can help your home stand out on the market while serving as a unique selling point.

What’s the most effective way to waterproof a basement?

The best way to make sure water doesn’t damage your basement is to create an effective water drainage system inside the home that diverts water away. It also helps to limit the ways that water might seep into your home. This includes making sure your gutters are working correctly, your ground slopes away from the home, and your window wells aren’t leaking.

What is the cheapest basement waterproofing method?

The cheapest method is to use sealant or waterproof paint to fill in cracks and cover the basement walls. However, some water may still get in, potentially causing more cracks in the future. Call Erie Home for your most efficient and cost-effective basement waterproofing solution.

Scroll to Top