The foundation spray
French drain at the foundation

Waterproofing the Foundation

We had a few days delay due to rainy weather - which is to be expected in the spring.

Our house is located in Utah, an area with a generally dry, desert climate. However, significant amounts of snow pile up in the mountains behind our house in the winter, and when it melts in the spring, it really saturates the ground. As a result, we have to be mindful of the drainage, particularly since we plan to finish the basement.

Typically, in our area, waterproofing the foundation really consists of two parts. The first is to backfill around the footings with gravel, lay down perforated pipe on top of the gravel, and then bury the pipe with more gravel. This creates what is called a perimeter drain (sometimes called a french drain) around the house to give water a path to escape should it get there. We will also tie a few of the downspouts from the rain gutters on the roof into the drain to give the water from the roof a clear path to out beyond the front of the house where it won't be a problem.

Since our lot slopes toward the front of the house, we don't have to worry about a sump pump - gravity will move the water around the foundation to the drain and out to daylight beyond the front of the house where it won't be a problem.


second part is to spray the foundation walls (on the outside) in all areas that will be below grade with a black, tar-like liquid. This fills the pores which makes it more difficult for water to penetrate the foundation walls. Although it is called "waterproofing" it is not actually completely waterproof - water under pressure still could potentially get through. But it goes a long way to keeping a dry basement.

Some people call this process "damp proofing" and is probably more appropriate. True waterproofing should make the foundation absolutely impervious to water, even under pressure, and is done with a rubber-like material. In our dry climate, the additional cost for this is rarely justified.

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