Basement waterproofing

Studies have concluded that 98% of all basements will experience some form of basement water damage at some point in their existence, which basically means that if you are a homeowner with a basement, water damage is a virtual certainty.  It simply becomes a matter of when, not if, you get your turn in the barrel.

Photo of basement water damage

Basement waterproofing or basement water damage - your choice

This comes as no surprise, though; basements are the single lowest lying locations in any structure. The problems can be comparable to attic water damage. Waterproofing is needed anytime a structure is built at ground level or below ground.  Couple that with the fact that water prefers to run downhill, and you have a recipe for some serious damage.  At this point, the question becomes, “what can I do to protect my basement from the elements?”

First off, understand, the concept of basement waterproofing is not a 100% cure all.  Regardless of whether you’re in South Africa or have basement water damage in Austin, the basics remain the same. If enough water comes in, your basement will be damaged, but the good news is that you can take definitive steps to insulate your basement against most forms of flood damage, as well as minimize any damage that does occur.

Basement waterproofing involves three basic steps:

  • Interior wall and floor sealers
  • Interior water drainage and
  • Exterior drainage combined with waterproofing.

Ideally, these elements should have been incorporated into your home when it was built.

There are also exterior waterproofing methods that are available, such as through the use of degradable asphalt based coverings.  Exterior waterproofing prevents water from entering foundation walls therefore preventing the wicking and molding of building materials. In fact, this method is the only one endorsed by the International Building Code.  Newer, polymer based coatings are designed for a longer life, and may last the life of the structure itself.

When it comes to taking preventative action, you should try to anticipate all avenues by which water may be able to access your basement.  Dampness may be caused by extremes in temperature, so reducing those extremes may help head off the problem. 

Keep your basement windows closed during wet weather, and replace any damaged water pipes.  A good quality dehumidifier will prove invaluable for reducing moisture levels in your basement.

Avoid any type of plantation in the areas immediately surrounding your basement foundation.  This may result in blocking of ventilation as well as producing cracks in the foundational walls. Not to mention the plant watering or drip systems that provides water to these plants, but also to your basement.

Be sure to look for condensation around any windows in the basement and reseal windows as necessary. 

Remember also that improperly installed gutters and downspouts may result in excess water near your foundation that can end up in your basement.  Make sure all gutter structures are properly installed and channel water away from your home for a distance of no less than 20 feet.  Landscaping should also properly slope away from your home.  Backfilled dirt around the foundation will typically settle lower than the surrounding dirt causing the ground to sink in and slope towards your house. If necessary, add dirt up against the foundation to create at least a 2″ per foot as the ground slopes away from the foundation. Retaining walls may also be utilized to keep excess water at bay.

Of course your local, Clean Trust certified water damage restoration professionals can inspect your home for potential water problems and correct the issues before they become serious.  Call them today.

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Water damaged flooring

Of course in any case of water damage, your flooring is going to bear the brunt of it.   In most cases, proper repair and cleaning of the floor can be the most crucial step in the water restoration process.  And as with any step, it must be done right the first time in order to avoid future problems.

Cupping and crowning water damaged hardwood

Water effects on water damaged hardwood floors

Water damaged hardwood flooring – this type of floor runs the risk of severe damage due to swelling and buckling (cupping) unless proper restoration techniques are employed.  Wood flooring expands and contracts as it’s moisture content varies. Air forced through the underside of the boards can be most beneficial when it comes to making sure the flooring is thoroughly dried.

Some times people think that just focusing on the top part of the wood flooring will do the trick without taking readings further down into the water damage wood floor. Even if the top layer does dry and the floor is sanded down to remove the cupping effect, it can buckle or cup again due to the moisture in the lower sections. For this reason a professional is preferred to ensure complete drying of the floor. A professional mitigation company will also know that once a solid wood floor is dry it may still be cupped, but in most cases will return to a flat state over the following few months. For this reason it’s best to hold off on sanding and finishing the floor otherwise the reverse can happen and you could end up with crowning (the opposite of cupping). If the cupping doesn’t return to a flat state after a few months then you can sand the floor and refinish it safely.

An expert water technician will determine a drying goal before attempting restoration. This drying goal is based on the dry standard for that type of wood which is usually taken from an unaffected piece of flooring with a moisture meter. The idea is to get the moisture content of the affected wood floor to be within 2-4% of the dry standard once the process is done.

Water technician installing wood floor drying equipment photo

Wood floor drying equipment installed by a technician

Water damaged laminate flooring – is made up of layers of resin, photographic paper on top and fiberboard bonded together with pressure and heat. It’s usually the fiberboard’s water absorbing nature that creates the need to replace this flooring material rather than trying to save it. Another factor contributing to replacing it rather than saving it is the material underneath the laminate flooring. Usually this is a type of cushion material such as particle wood or a plastic over concrete – either one of these will trap water and prevent efficient drying.

Water damaged tile flooring – of course tiles are going to be the single most water resistant flooring material, which helps cut down on the damage, and if properly installed, you won’t have to worry about water getting underneath and ruining other areas of your structure.  To clean tiles, simply wash and scrub the flooring.  Pay attention to the grout joints which will be the most porous section of the flooring. If you suspect that there may be problems below, then call a professional company to confirm your suspicions by means of a moisture meter.  Infrared inspections may also reveal whether or not there is additional damage that may have been overlooked. If there is water trapped beneath the tiles then the decision needs to be made whether to dry it out from below (if possible) or from above by removing the tiles.

Water damaged linoleum and vinyl flooring – Here you have a much higher chance of the water getting under the floor and developing into new problems, as both linoleum and vinyl are able to trap water in sub flooring.  The floor will have to be taken up in order to allow the subsection to dry thoroughly.  Of course, hiring a restoration company is preferred as they have the equipment and techniques at their disposal to properly dry out the flooring with minimal disruption.  It also allows you to salvage as much sub flooring material as possible.

There are many other types of flooring not discussed in this article, each of which has their own set of complex issues. A professional water restoration company will understand each and every type of flooring material as well as it’s tendencies to either dry out effective or not (necessitating the need for removal and replacement). It’s always best to consult with an expert before trying to dry a floor out yourself.

As always, do not neglect the sub flooring.  Laying your floor back down over a damp or wet sub floor will only create more problems.  Make sure the sub floor is completely dried out and properly cleaned before anything is re-installed.

If all this sounds like more than you feel you can take on, it is.  That’s why your local Clean Trust certified water damage restoration professionals are available 24/7 to handle all of your water damage restoration needs.  Same day service is available in most cases, so call today.

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Attic Water Damage

The attic is much like the basement in that it is an area of your home than may go largely ignored for extended periods of time.  This of course means that any problems that may crop up in these locations may likewise go unnoticed until they have grown to significant proportions.  The attic particularly is one area where an ounce of prevention is highly recommended.

Photo showing attic water damage

Attic water damage can result in mold and dry-rot

At the risk of insulting someone’s intelligence, the attic is located beneath the roof but above the ceiling, and as a result is target ground zero for any sort of water damage from the elements.  By taking the proper steps, you may not be able to wholly prevent water damage, but you can cut down the extent of the damage a good bit.

Attic Vents – In any scenario, proper ventilation is needed to keep moisture levels down.  Attic vents may be installed to keep air properly circulating and keep humidity levels below 50%.  Vents may be installed along the peak of the roof, and should be checked occasionally to remove leaves or other debris from blocking them.

Proper Insulation – Good insulation will do its job and keep your home warmer in winter and cooler in summer.  If it becomes damaged by water, its effectiveness may be diminished.  Check on your insulation frequently, especially during the rainy season.  If you do find moisture in the insulation, locate the source of the problem and fix it immediately.  Remove the wet insulation immediately and replace it with new material.

Top To Bottom – Be sure to inspect skylight wells, plumbing, and chimneys for possible leaks.  Rotting or mold growths are significant signs that something is amiss.  Likewise, roof sheathing and rafters, should be free of rot or water stains.  If you see any daylight penetrating through your roof, that means water can penetrate as well.  Take steps to repair it now, before the next storm hits.

Check the floor to make sure it is dry and that there are no signs that water has been there or run along the floor.  Remember, if the floor is water damaged, the next stop will be your ceiling below.  Also look for any holes, leaks, or any area where the integrity of the structure has been compromised.  Any one of which may cause water damage problems.

Attic Appliances – Check out any units or piping located in your attic for leaking or any other malfunction.  Replace damaged hoses and tighten up loose connections.  Remember that water may accumulate directly beneath appliances and remain unseen unless it is actively looked for.

Recessed Lights – Check these for signs of rust or corrosion.  In addition to moisture problems, you may also be looking at a serious electrical hazard.  If your recessed lighting is several years old, you may want to consider replacing them with more up to date models that include built in insulation.

Contact your local The Clean Trust certified water damage restoration professional for additional help.  They will know what to look for and where to look for it, and offer same day service in most cases. If your attic sustains water damage call your local water damage restoration company immediately to dry the structure and prevent secondary water damage like mold.

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Choosing a Dehumidifier

Humidity is nobody’s idea of a good time.  It makes the air around you feel heavy, and if you perform any physical exertion at all, you can often, as people say, “feel it in your lungs”.  Worse, excessive humidity within the walls of your home or business make just being there uncomfortable, as well as setting the stage for problems such as mold growth.  Humidity is the number one requirement for mold to take up residence, and once it does, you have a whole new crop of issues to deal with. If you thought the storm water damage was bad enough, wait until mold develops due to ineffective dehumidification.

Water damage dehumidifier photo

Pick the right dehumidifier for your job

It’s no wonder professional water damage companies like PuroClean use dehumidifiers when drying out a structure. Dehumidification goes hand-in-hand with air movement. The air movement encourages evaporation from wet materials, like carpets, walls and contents, while the job of the dehumidifier is to remove the moisture from the air. This makes the air thirstier and encourages more evaporation. Without the dehumidification, the air will absorb water until saturated and then stop absorbing water from wet materials. Not only will drying stop, but secondary water damage can also be an issue and all sorts of problems can ensue such as wood cabinets absorbing water from the air and warping.

So the question becomes how to best eliminate, or at least reduce, the humidity levels in your home?  Fortunately, there are a number of dehumidifiers on the market, designed to do one thing, bring the humidity level in your home back within proper and acceptable parameters.  But how do you know which one to buy? 

The first thing to determine is the size of the area that needs to be treated, and just how badly affected that area is.  The best advice is to always go a little bit beyond what you will need, since a little overkill is infinitely preferable to having an underpowered device running constantly and never quite solving the problem.  The following chart demonstrates how to best choose the unit for your property.

Condition without Dehumidification

500 Sq. Feet





Moderately Damp (space feels damp and has musty odor only in humid weather)

10 pints





Very Damp (space always feels damp and has musty odor. Damp spots show on walls and floor.)






Wet (space feels and smells wet. Walls or floor sweat, or seepage is present.)






Extremely Wet (laundry drying, wet floor, high load conditions.)






Source: Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM)

The numbers to the right represent the recommended capacity of the dehumidifier needed to handle that particular sized area.  Capacity is defined as the maximum amount of humidity that can be removed from the air in a 24 hour period at 80% F and 60% relative humidity.  A 1000 square foot basement would require a dehumidifier with a minimum capacity of 23 pints.

Whole house dehumidifiers may be purchased as stand alone units, and handle up to 3000 square feet and remove up to 100 pints of water in a 24 hours period.  Whole house units are nice in that you will be running your air conditioner a lot less, cutting down on your power bill and preventing water damage at the same time.  It will always be less expensive to remove humidity from your home using a dehumidifier than it would be to run your AC constantly.

Dehumidifiers may also be set with timers which allow the unit to run only during given times each day.

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Water Damage Proper Assessment

Following a water damage event, your first reaction may be the quite appropriate “what a mess”, and this is understandable.  Water damage leaves behind a level of carnage that can be overwhelming and traumatizing for the average homeowner, in many cases even more so than fire.  You’re left looking at what remains of your possessions and wondering where to begin.

Water damage inspection and documentation

Water damage assessment and documentation

Developing a grasp of the extent of the damage to your home or business will prove invaluable later on when it comes to processing any insurance claims and working alongside claims adjusters.  It is advisable to promptly contact a professional water damage restoration company, as they will be able to expedite the process.  Remember, time is of utmost importance when dealing with any type of water damage, so the sooner you get things moving the better.

Start outside and move around the structure, taking video or photos (accompanied by detailed notes) on the level of damaged sustained.  If there are water lines as the result of a flood, make note of them as well. 

Check the roof for any areas that may have collapsed, as well as missing shingles, warped or missing gutter assemblies, damage to the chimney, and any stains or cracks visible on the structure.

Likewise, inspect the exterior of the home for any collapsed or damaged walls, broken windows, or visible signs of water intrusion through windows, vents, etc.   If there are any areas around the home that are flooded, make a note of them as well. 

Before entering the structure, make sure that all utilities are properly turned off at the source.  Electricity and water do not mix.  Trust me on this one.  And leaking gas can cause its own problems.

Properly document all signs of damage, not only to the structure itself but also furniture, appliances, and other items.  Water damaged drywall may be stained or swollen, depending on the level and severity of the initial damage event.  Flooring may be warped or cracked.  If the damage extended upstairs, ceilings may be sagging under the weight of accumulated water.  Do not enter these rooms; if the ceiling collapses with you in it, the results could be, well; let’s just say “unfortunate”.

Easily the most time consuming part of the process will be taking inventory of and documenting all of the various items that may have been damaged.  Have a detailed list of these items prepared for your adjuster, and if possible, include receipts for the items.  Again, photos or video of the damage goes a long way towards helping the process along.

Break your list down room by room, checking off appliances that show signs of water damage, damaged pieces of furniture, cabinets, and dressers.  Be sure to open up cabinets and dressers to look for damage inside doors or drawers.  Similar documentation should be performed with books, documents, and digital media such as CDs, DVDs, and computer hard drives.

Sometimes it can be quite daunting remembering all the things that should be performed like documentation and photos etc, and that’s before even starting to deal with the water damage. If this sounds a bit much to have to deal with, your friendly local PuroClean can assist and is always a quick telephone call away.

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