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How Can You Waterproof Your Basement's Block Walls?

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If you've recently found yourself ankle-deep in standing water after heading down to your basement during (or just after) a heavy storm, you may be anxious about the extent of water damage your home has already suffered, as well as worried about your ability to prevent future damage. Even if you haven't actually experienced pools of standing water in your home, damp walls or a musty, mildewed smell could indicate hidden moisture. Fortunately, in basements with block walls that haven't been covered with drywall or another finishing surface, this waterproofing process can be fairly quick and inexpensive. Read on to learn more about some of the steps you'll need to take before waterproofing your block-walled basement.

Determine whether your basement's block walls are concrete or cinder block

Although the term "cinder block" is often used to denote any type of solid, heavy, concrete-based block, there are some substantial differences between concrete blocks and cinder blocks that may dictate the type of waterproofing sealant that will be most effective. 

In general, concrete blocks are heavier, lighter in color, and less porous than cinder blocks (which are made from a mixture of concrete and pulverized cinders). Because concrete blocks are less porous than cinder blocks, they're much better at naturally repelling exterior moisture, which can mean that cinder blocks may need some extra reinforcement. 

If you've examined your block walls and are still uncertain whether you're dealing with concrete blocks or cinder blocks, you may want to err on the side of caution by using a sealant specifically designed to waterproof cinder blocks or other porous concrete.

Prepare the surface area

Before waterproofing block walls, you'll need to carefully clean them to ensure the sealant will uniformly adhere to the surface. This can usually be accomplished by removing any paint, dirt, or other potential contaminants with a wire brush. You'll then want to allow your walls to fully dry before applying the sealant (as this prevents you from trapping moisture within the walls during the sealing process).  

Paint the blocks with a water-repelling sealant 

There are a number of varieties of waterproofing sealants on the market, and the best option for your basement may depend on your budget, the amount of surface area you'll need to cover, and even the climate in your region. If your basement tends to stay much colder than the rest of your home, even in summer, a waterproofing sealant that is designed to resist cold can come in handy; meanwhile, those with sweltering basements may want to select a sealant that performs at its best in hot weather. 

For more information or for professional assistance, contact a company like John's Waterproofing.