Waterproofing is often equated with building materials and structures becoming impervious to water. However, there are many other ways in which waterproofing can be achieved. These other ways may be more relevant for commercial use or industrial/service applications than in domestic or residential situations. The five main methods of waterproofing are:
A simple method of waterproofing involves excavating an area with a reinforced base, filling it with soil, and compacting the soil at the bottom and top with a suitable waterproofing compound. This is sometimes referred to as ‘dampproofing’. Dampproofing provides much better waterproofing capabilities than simple excavation and can also help to protect the foundation. This method of waterproofing is especially effective when the waterproofing is needed for a river or lake bank, where water penetration into the soil below can cause significant problems.
A basement waterproofing project, when carried out correctly, should leave the main level of the home or business relatively dry. Any water infiltration should not penetrate through the concrete or underlying supportive steelwork. Most importantly, all basement waterproofing work should include a waterproof membrane system that can be installed above the soil or cavity of the foundation and the surrounding floor. This membrane can effectively restrict the movement of water during the wetter times of the year. This method is also often referred to as cap sealing.
To understand how dampproofing works, it is first necessary to establish why it is better than just excavating and filling a basement or dam. The primary benefit of dampproofing is that this type of waterproofing provides an additional layer of protection against the movement of liquid water. When a building is being constructed, the normal practice is to excavate the foundation, furnish the base materials and then pour a waterproofing membrane into the space between the soil and the interior concrete. The membrane is typically applied to a larger area, such as a wall or patio, and acts as a second layer of protection.
The other benefit of waterproofing is that it prevents water seepage into the living space. If the water reaches the walls and floors of a house, it can significantly damage the structural integrity of the building. If water penetrates through the walls, it can also lead to dampness and mold within the home, which can spread to the household occupants. Dampproofing prevents the movement of moisture, which allows for a more effective and efficient waterproofing system.
Dampproofing also creates a waterproof seal to the foundation walls of a building. By waterproofing the foundation at the time of construction, the structure can be protected from the moisture associated with soil, atmosphere, and climate. Also, the structure will not need to be constructed again for twenty years or more. It also increases the longevity of the walls by protecting them from the elements. While there are a few exterior waterproofing products available for use on concrete walls, many homeowners prefer to build in-house and apply a membrane to the foundation and then to the exterior walls.
There are two primary methods of waterproofing: penetrating and solid. Permeable waterproofing systems penetrate the soil around a house by using a mechanical, pressure, or chemical process. This waterproofing method can be completed on one level or through an entire foundation. For cementitious waterproofing, a membrane is applied to the foundation and left to dry overnight. The next day, the membrane is washed away with a strong jet of water.
The third type of waterproofing product, known as vapor barriers, is a simple solution to dampness problems associated with soil and air pockets in the foundation. These barriers can be installed in the same manner as vapor barriers used on concrete foundations, but they do not require excavating and do not need to be sealed as often. A vapor barrier acts as a second layer of insulation, stopping moisture from leaking into the structure. There are a few waterproofing products designed specifically for basement walls, but you should consult with your engineer and Waterproofing before making any decisions regarding the construction of your basement.