The Importance of Using Drainage Mats in Homes

Drainage Mats

Water damage is one of the most invasive and difficult to control problems facing homeowners, but assuming that damp smell in your basement is just a fact of life opens you up to risk when the dampness finally becomes a puddle on the floor or water trickling down your walls.

The issue is that failing waterproofing around a foundation is difficult to detect until it’s too late. “Out of sight, out of mind” can lead to costly repairs, often at the worst time of year.

Proactively waterproofing your foundation can ultimately cost homeowners up to ten times less than digging up your foundation to fix a problem after it has happened. Making sure your home builder engages a waterproofing company will save you a lot of money in the long run.

Many homeowners—and even contractors—think that all they need is a waterproofing membrane applied to the concrete and they’re protected. And while a high-quality waterproofing membrane should be a key part of maintaining your home, the solution is actually more complex.

What Is Hydrostatic Pressure?

Hydrostatic Pressure

Before we talk about waterproofing products, let’s look at how homes are built, and why waterproofing is so important.

The first step in building a new home is digging a hole in the ground. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? In broad strokes, builders dig a foundation, pour concrete and then fill the rest of the hole back in.

The problem—and it’s a pretty universal one—occurs because the soil around the new foundation is less compacted than the untouched soil around that. As water moves through the ground, it will look for the path of least resistance—namely, through looser soil—before it ultimately accumulates against your home’s foundation. This is called hydrostatic pressure.

It’s important to understand that hydrostatic pressure exists in all soil types. All soil traps at least some moisture, so even if you’re living in a relatively dry place, homeowners should still make sure their home is built to withstand hydrostatic pressure.

But My Foundation Is Already Waterproofed?

Waterproof Foundation

Many homeowners see the edge of the black membrane peeking over the grade-line of their home and assume they’re protected. While a quality waterproofing membrane is critical in keeping your home waterproof, if it’s under continual assault from hydrostatic pressure, it will not last as long as it would if the whole foundation is well-protected.

A waterproofing membrane shouldn’t be your first line of defense. Products like drainage mats are designed to help water drain safely away before they ever reach the foundation.

What Is a Drainage Mat?

Drainage Mat

A drainage board, or drainage mat, helps water flow away from the foundation. Without it, water can stay trapped against the concrete or pool at the bottom. Drainage mats come with a dimpled design that lets water accumulate and flow away, creating an air gap.

Good drainage mats will also have a Polypropylene Geotextile Fabric. As water flows, it picks up small particles of silt and soil. When water stops moving—like when it reaches a concrete wall—silt and soil will accumulate, further increasing the pressure against the foundation. A drainage mat’s membrane protects the mat from sediment clogging.

What Other Features Can You Use With a Drainage Mat?

Home waterproofing needs a comprehensive solution. Along with using both drainage mats and waterproofing membranes, here are a few other waterproofing products to consider:

Drainage Tiles and Drainage Rolls

Drainage Rolls

Once the water has flowed down the drainage mat, what happens next? It’s not enough to keep it off the walls—you need the water to move away entirely from your home or else you risk it coming up through the basement floor.

Traditionally, the solution has been to install something called a French drain, which is a concrete pipe that collects water and helps it flow away from your foundation. Unfortunately, French drains are notorious for getting clogged or collapsing, which, in turn, only makes your drainage problem worse as water backs up.

Drain tiles and drainage rolls work on the same kind of principle as drainage mats, creating channels that allow water to flow, and using a membrane to protect the system from soil and gravel. They are placed at the base of drainage boards and can be used to channel water downgrade or to a mechanical drainage system, like a sump pump.

Insulated Drainage Mat

A drainage mat creates an air gap to facilitate water flow, which is great. But in colder climates, that air gap can also trap warm air from an improperly insulated basement. And that warm air results in a thin layer of liquid water against your foundation, even when the ground is frozen.

An insulated drainage mat does double duty. It provides the hydrostatic pressure protection that comes with any good drainage mat, while also offering insulation R-value that keeps warm air in your basement. This, in turn, saves you not only from costly water damage repairs but also lowers monthly energy expenses.

When looking for an insulated drainage mat, make sure you’re looking not only at its insulation properties but also at its compressive strength. Not all insulation is designed to withstand the external forces of soil and water, so when selecting your drainage board, make sure your insulation is made to last.

Build Your Waterproof Home

Proactively waterproofing your home protects your investment and saves you money for years to come. By educating yourself, you can rest easy that your home is safe from the invasive force of water. Using a comprehensive waterproofing system, including drainage mats, will help keep the water out, so you can enjoy every level of your dry home, every day.

For more information on choosing the right waterproofing products, visit the Mar-flex website.

The Best Basement Waterproofing Solutions for My Climate

Residential Waterproofing SolutionsWe can all agree that a waterproof basement is critical to health and well-being, property value and building longevity. Although a damp basement may feel like a ubiquitous problem with no solution, the opposite is, in fact, quite true. As much as 60% of a building’s ventilation is sourced from basement air. If water and mold issues in a basement aren’t addressed, they can impact the entire house.

But while wet basements may be a common problem for homeowners across North America, the solution will vary depending on where the home is located. Factors like annual precipitation, temperature and soil type greatly affect the type of water intrusion in a home, as well as the best way to waterproof a basement.

Today we’re going to look at three different climate types, explore the common causes of wet basements in those areas, and how to address them. Every basement needs a custom solution when being built, but there are trends you can expect from one part of the country to the next.

Basement Waterproofing Solutions for Cold Climates

Basement Waterproofing For Winters

Areas where temperatures regularly drop below freezing are subject to different water intrusion risks than homes in other climates. Water expands as part of the freeze-thaw cycle, so any water already in a foundation crack and pressing against a weak spot in the concrete has the potential to cause further damage when the temperatures drop and the water expands.

As a result of these freeze-thaw events, foundation cracks can expand quickly and often when they are least accessible: while the ground is frozen. This can be further aggravated if the basement itself is poorly insulated. A poorly insulated basement radiates heat from the inside, which can create a thin layer of liquid water in the frozen ground, facilitating its entry into the basement.

Basements in cold climates are also more susceptible to increased water load. A snowstorm represents a huge amount of water deposited in a location at one time, compared to rain which falls to the ground and drains away steadily. For snow, melting occurs quickly, increasing the hydrostatic pressure against the concrete.

When building a new home, working from the outside, you’ll want to install both a waterproofing membrane and a drainage/insulation board. Make sure the foundation is fully dry before installing the membrane and board.

Once water is flowing away from the basement, thanks to the membrane, you’ll also want to install a subgrade drain system—either a French drain or a sump pump—to carry water away before it enters from under the floor. These basement waterproofing systems will be discussed more in the next section.

Basement Waterproofing Solutions for Wet Climates

Basement Waterproofing For Wet Climates

In wet climates with rainy springs and potentially high water tables, the name of the game is drainage. Wet springs and rising water tables lead to saturated soils and high hydrostatic pressure against your foundation.

A dimpled drainage mat is an effective waterproofing product. The dimples increase surface area, allowing for greater drainage capacity, moving water away from the walls and toward a comprehensive drainage system.

French drains collect water around the base of the foundation. Typically perforated and surrounded by gravel, water that percolates down the waterproof membrane and drainage mat collects in the French drain and flows away from the foundation toward drainage tile.

For especially wet areas where a French drain isn’t enough, mechanical support via a sump pump is also a relatively affordable waterproofing solution. Sump pumps are dug below the foundation grade, and actively pump water away.

Basement Waterproofing Solutions for Dry Climates

Basement Waterproofing For Dry Climates

Even in drier climates with relatively little annual rainfall and low water tables, homeowners should still make sure their basements are properly waterproofed in order to protect their health and well-being, as well as their investment. While waterproofing needs in drier climates are not as elaborate as they are elsewhere, here are a few solutions to consider:

  • Proper grading. Water should always flow away from the foundation. If there are any low spots—either the soil, concrete, or paving stones—these should be brought up to grade to keep the foundation dry in the event of rain.
  • Well sealed and graded hardscaping. Brick, stone and concrete paving is popular for patios and walkways. But although these surfaces are hard, they are often porous, allowing water to accumulate and sit close to your foundation. Make sure hardscaped features are well-sealed and graded away from your home.
  • Dampproofing. To be extra sure, apply dampproofing to the basement interior, and promptly repair any cracks with hydrostatic cement or waterproof mastic.
  • Vapor barrier. If a home is built over a dirt crawlspace, rather than a full basement, make sure a vapor barrier is installed over the soil. This will prevent any moisture from diffusing up, as well as help mitigate nuisances and risks associated with insects or radon gas.

Waterproofing Solutions for Every Climate

Mar-flex offers concrete waterproofing solutions for every climate. Our durable membranes and protection/drainage boards are designed to last for decades and protect homes for their lifespan.

If you want more information on the best waterproofing products for your new build, click here to visit our website.

The Right Basement Waterproof Sealant for Your Foundation Material

Waterproof Sealant For Foundation Material

Water in basements is a common problem for many homeowners, but it’s easy to ignore until it becomes a serious issue. What basement doesn’t feel a little damp in the spring? But water is an invasive force that can lead to significant structural issues if the cause isn’t identified and the impacts corrected.

Waterproofing a foundation can be a multi-step process involving sealing the exterior foundation. Accessing the building’s foundation can be complicated, so exterior waterproofing products are a good step to protecting your home.

Today, we’re answering the most common questions about waterproofing your basement and how to select the right sealant and drainage system to protect your foundation.

What is basement waterproofing sealant?

Basement Waterproofing Sealant

Basement waterproofing can be applied to the exterior of your basement or foundation wall. A high-quality waterproof sealant will repel water and prevent degradation of the concrete.

Exterior basement waterproofing is generally made of an asphalt-based waterproofing. Asphalt is carefully refined from the distillation of selected crude oils and is used because of its impermeability and reliability.

Asphalt waterproof sealants are spray-applied in either water- or solvent-based formulas. Make sure to seal any cracks or faults using a waterproof mastic before covering it with waterproofing sealant.

Exterior Basement Waterproofing

When is the best time to have my basement’s exterior waterproofed?

There are two times to waterproof your basement. In order of preference, they are:

  1. When it is being built. Exterior basement waterproofing must be done by exposing the foundation, so the best time to waterproof your basement is during construction before fill and landscaping remove the access to your exterior foundation wall.
  2. During a warm, dry period. For a number of reasons, if you need to excavate your foundation once construction is complete, you want to do it with an eye on the weather. The most obvious reason is, if your foundation is already leaking, you don’t want to increase the chance of water intrusion by exposing your foundation during a rain event. And even if there is no rain in the forecast, you want to wait until the ground is thoroughly dry. Wet and damp soil needs to be shored up to keep workers safe and has the potential to delay work.

You also want to do your waterproofing when the weather is fairly warm. Trying to apply waterproofing membranes when temperatures are too cold will increase the amount of time these products need to cure before you can backfill the foundation. Always follow manufacturer’s recommendations on application temperatures.

Drainage Board System

What is hydrostatic pressure, and how does it affect foundation drainage?

While managing exterior water sources through proper downspout drainage and landscape grading will help reduce opportunities for water infiltration, the fact remains basements are built below grade and subject to hydrostatic pressure from groundwater. Even the most well-sealed foundations may degrade under the influences of this pressure over time.

A drainage board system installed around the outside of a sealed foundation will help protect against groundwater and debris like silt and rocks. Along with supporting an effective drainage system, Mar-flex GeoMat Drain Roll is made of 100% recycled material and can be used towards LEED building credits.

Waterproofing a basement can be a complex undertaking, but it is critical to maintaining the integrity of a home. Wherever possible, waterproofing should be considered a proactive activity, rather than waiting for a flood. Manufacturers of waterproofing materials, like Mar-Flex, have a variety of solutions to suit your needs. For more information, visit our website.

How do you make a waterproof basement from the beginning?

This is a question we found via Yahoo Answers, and thought it would be within our expertise to answer here:

Foundation waterproofing should always be undertaken during initial construction. It is nearly impossible to apply basement waterproofing products once backfill, where sediment is deposited around the foundation, takes place. Before discussing the proper basement waterproofing products to use during construction, however, it is important to make the distinction between waterproofing and dampproofing a foundation. Dampproofing, which is less expensive, was used frequently in the past to prevent moisture from reaching subterranean walls. In fact, it was often referred to as “waterproofing” until the two terms were officially codified in the International Residential Code. We will address the difference in greater detail in future articles, but the bottom-line is that dampproofing merely prevents moisture from soaking into below-grade structures. Dampproofing will not prevent damage due to hydrostatic pressure or protect against a large buildup of water against a foundation wall. You can find more information on the benefits of waterproofing products here.

Once you have settled on basement waterproofing, you will begin to assemble your basement waterproofing system. We call it a waterproofing system because it utilizes three elements: a waterproofing membrane, drainage tile a drainage board. These pieces compliment each other and work together to ensure basements remain water-free for many many years. In fact, Marflex offers a limited lifetime warranty on waterproofing systems combining our top-of-the-line green waterproofing products, the FUSION UV waterproofing membrane and Shockwave drainage board. The waterproofing membrane goes on first and is sprayed directly on the exterior of the below-grade structure. This will prevent water from reaching the concrete and contains a large enough polymer concentration to resist hydrostatic pressure by stretching without breakage. The drainage board will prevent water from building up around the structure by helping it to quickly flow away from walls. It is applied over the waterproofing membrane and protects the membrane from soil and debris while channeling away moisture that causes pressure to build up.  The drainage tile fits beneath the structure and channels water away from the floor in much the same way that drainage boards channel water away from below-grade walls. By pairing a true waterproofing membrane with a high-quality drainage board, you can ensure your foundation walls will be built to last.

What Contractors and Builders Need to Know About Foundation Waterproofing Sealing

Waterproofing Sealing

Owning and maintaining a building is a constant battle against water intrusion. Whether through leaky roofs, broken window seals or foundation cracks, homeowners, tenants and contractors are always looking for solutions to keep the water out.

Concrete foundations are built for their durability, but despite their solid-seeming appearance, concrete foundation walls are very water permeable. Diffusion is slow, but anyone who has ever been in an unsealed basement knows the smell of mold and mildew growth that comes with gradual moisture intrusion.

Foundation waterproofing sealing is a critical component of constructing and maintaining a building’s foundation. A high-quality waterproofing system not only provides a membrane to keep liquid water out but also keeps water vapor out as well. Whether you’re building a new foundation or repairing an existing one, choosing the right foundation waterproofing will extend the building’s longevity and reduce long-term maintenance costs.

Talking to Homeowners About Foundation Waterproofing Sealing

Foundation of Waterproof Sealing

Getting a homeowner to commit to resealing a foundation can be a task, especially if the work involves exposing the exterior foundation, which is an expensive undertaking. Often, homeowners may incorrectly believe their foundation has already been waterproofed when, in fact, they have only been dampproofed, which is the minimum code requirement in many jurisdictions.

During heavy rain events, water can infiltrate through solid concrete. Many building owners will wait for visible foundation cracks and water accumulation before calling a contractor. By helping them understand the other signs of moisture intrusion, you may be able to solve larger problems, like mold growth and foundational deterioration, before they happen.

Signs to look out for include:

  • Staining on drywall
  • Peeling paint
  • Bowing or warping of panels
  • Damp spots in carpeting
  • White spots on walls
  • Musty odors

If building owners are aware of these other signs of water damage, they can be more proactive in beginning repairs. Hidden moisture infiltration can damage electrical panels and appliances, cause chronic health problems, and potentially hurt property values, so addressing them quickly is of the utmost importance.

What Waterproofing Products Do You Need?

Waterproofing Products

Foundation waterproofing sealers can be applied on the exterior of the foundation, which is recommended since it keeps water out of the foundation, while interior sealing won’t prevent future cracking and degradation.

Mastic can be applied in localized areas to patch joints, seams and visible cracks. Choosing a foundation waterproofing sealer that is a heavy duty, elastomeric emulsion will help prevent moisture intrusion.

When specifying a waterproofing product, make sure to check whether it is rated for waterproofness or dampproofness. A comprehensive waterproofing system will help keep water out during heavy rain events or spring thaws, while dampproofing will limit moisture intrusion from surrounding soil and groundwater.

A product like Mar-flex’s 362 All Season Mastic is a great choice for patching cracks and sealing foundation joints and seams before waterproofing. It can be applied by hand or with a trowel and leaves a flexible waterproof coating able to handle freeze-thaw cycles throughout the seasons. This flexibility also means that 362 Mastic can be applied at any time of the year.

For broader surface application, Mar-flex 5000 is a heavy duty, solvent-based or water-based polymer-emulsion blend that penetrates concrete or masonry to provide long-term residential waterproofing protection. Drainage boards are also available to extend the residential warranty for new construction applications.

Applying Foundation Waterproofing

Applying Foundation Waterproofing

Before applying the foundation waterproofing sealer, make sure to address any significant sources of water. These could include overflowing downspouts, improperly graded landscaping, or sunken paths and walkways that lead to water accumulation. It’s important to remediate these issues before installing a waterproof membrane in order to ensure its effectiveness.

Next, make sure your surface is clean and dry. Concrete needs to be free of loose particles as well as oils and greases to make sure your foundation waterproofing sealer adheres properly. If you’re waterproofing a new foundation, make sure the concrete has had enough time to cure or that you select a waterproofing membrane that is compatible with green concrete, such as the Mar-flex 5000.

Once you’ve addressed any exterior issues and prepared your surface, you are ready to begin installing the waterproofing system. Make sure you communicate important information like curing times and any warranty requirements to homeowners so that the project only needs to be done once, as re-excavation will be costly.

For more information on how to choose and apply one of Mar-flex’s foundation waterproofing products, visit our website.

Tip of the Day – Essential Basement Waterproofing Products

Basement waterproofing is crucial in any structure, as it prevents mold and mildew growth, as well as water damage. There are several products which are essential when waterproofing a basement.
A sump pump is useful in homes where the water table is above the foundation table of the structure. Because of this, you’ll frequently experience basement flooding. To stop this flooding and to prevent dampness, a sump pump is installed which pumps any water that enters your basement out to a central location at least fifteen feet from the structure. There are two types of sump pumps, pedestal and submersible. A pedestal unit is mounted above the ground and is more easily reachable. A submersible pump is located below ground and should be sealed off. Sump pumps operate off water pressure or the home’s electrical supply.
Another important tool that you must have when waterproofing a structure is a drain tile system. Most homes are already equipped with a traditional drain tile system (often called a french drain), which uses PVC pipe to channel out water. These are notorious for failing and flooding basements. If this is the system in your structure, you need to upgrade it. There are several new piping systems that can be installed in both internal and external drain tile systems.
A cavity drain system is another great tool for waterproofing. In a cavity drain system a pre-formed cavity within your basement intercepts incoming water and drains it away. This system is located entirely underground.
To prevent leaking and flooding in your basement its important to fix the problems causing leaking. Fix, fill, and repair all cracks and holes in the foundation walls. By fixing these you’ll prevent any excess water from seeping into your structure and causing damage.

Choosing Interior or Exterior Insulation: The Pros and Cons

Insulation is one of the most complicated choices builders and architects face during construction. Interior insulation is cost effective, but can reduce usable space and doesn’t protect against water. Exterior insulation is expensive and susceptible to insects. Regardless of the insulation choice, efficiency, toxicity and resiliency must all be taken into account as well. The Mar-flex team has put together a quick “cheat sheet” to outline the differences, advantages and disadvantages of each type of insulation.

ADVANTAGES of insulation on the EXTERIOR of basement walls:

  • Minimizes thermal bridging and reducing heat loss through the foundation

  • Protects the waterproofing membrane from damage during backfilling

  • Serves as a capillary break to moisture intrusion

  • Protects the foundation from the effects of the freeze-thaw cycle

  • Reduces the potential for condensation on surfaces in the basement

  • Conserves indoor space, relative to installing insulation on the interior

DISADVANTAGES of insulation on the EXTERIOR of basement walls:

  • Costs may be high depending on materials and approach selected

  • Expensive for an existing building unless a perimeter drainage system is being installed at the same time

  • May be susceptible to insect infestation, however Mar-flex offers insect resistant materials

  • Contractors may be unfamiliar with proper detailing procedures that are critical to performance

  • Buildings with high radon will need a radon mitigations system to use exterior insulation

ADVANTAGES of insulation on the INTERIOR of basement walls:

  • Interior insulation is much less expensive to install than exterior insulation for existing buildings

  • Almost any insulation type can be used, however rigid foam EPS is recommended

  • The space is isolated from the colder earth more effectively than when using external methods

DISADVANTAGES of insulation on the INTERIOR of basement walls:

  • Many types require a fire-rated covering because they may release toxic gases when ignited

  • Reduces your usable interior space by a few inches

  • Doesn’t protect the waterproofing coating like exterior insulation

  • May become damp if perimeter drainage is poor

Waterproofing vs. Dampproofing

  • Did you know that there is a significant difference between waterproofing and dampproofing? Dampproofing simply slows down water penetration, but will not completely waterproof your foundation. Dampproofing, however, does protect against water vapor transmission. For the value based homeowner, dampproofing is an alternative to waterproofing, usually done with an easy to spray-on membrane, which dries into a seamless coating. Mar-Flex’s DampFusion Water Based acrylic dampproofing membrane is an economical solution to many damp basement or foundation issues. Value priced for the everyday consumer.

What is an Egress Window Well and Why Are They Important?

Mar-flex_Window-wells_Rhino_insetWe have received several questions on our Facebook page asking about the benefits of egress window wells. What is an egress window well? Why would you want to install an egress window well, and how to know which one is right for you? Mar-flex is a premier national manufacturer and distributor of all types of window wells. As an industry leader, it is our duty and privilege to help the public by addressing these questions.
Egress window wells perform the same basic functions as a standard window well. They keep backfill, rocks and dirt away from below-grade windows. They also help water drain away to prevent leaks and hydrostatic pressure around the window frame. What makes egress wells unique, however, is that they allow individuals inside the basement to exit through the well. Some wells have ladders, others have stairs. From an installation standpoint, the major difference is the fact that egress wells are usually larger than standard metal window wells. This larger design allows individuals to fit through them.
There are a number of good reasons homeowners choose to install an egress window well. The most obvious is that it can let you get more enjoyment out of your basement. Egress window wells allow more natural light into basements; they can literally brighten your day. Extra illumination is nice, but that isn’t the most important reason for exploring an egress window well for your home or business. A quick escape from the basement saves lives. Below-grade spaces that lack direct routes to the outdoors can be extremely dangerous in the event of a fire. We won’t get into the details of what can happen to individuals trapped downstairs. They are, as you can imagine, grizzly. What matters is that you can prevent such a horrific event. That’s why a growing number of cities and townships are requiring homeowners to purchase egress window wells. Check your local building codes to see if your region is among them.