Do It Yourself

Do it yourself (or DIY) is a term used to describe building, modifying, or repairing of something without the aid of experts or professionals. The phrase "do it yourself" came into common usage in the 1950s in reference to home improvement projects which people might choose to complete independently.

Basement Lights From simple cleaning to complete basement finishing, there is much a do-it-yourselfer can accomplish.

In the mid-1990s, DIY home-improvement content began to find its way onto the World Wide Web. The growth of independent online DIY resources is also spiking. The number of homeowners who blog about their experiences continues to grow, along with DIY websites from various organizations.

You will find much helpful information on things you can do yourself to prevent foundation problems in our Foundation Maintenance section of Basement Questions.

Foundation waterproofing for the D-I-Yourselfer can be a real challenge if it is in need of new draintile system. Or it could just be a minor crack or rod hole leak.

I remember back in the day, my Dad had "let" all of us kids help him dig up the basement from the outside. The game turned into work real quick. Through all the hard compact soil, rocks, tree roots, etc all the way down to the old clay tiles that need to be replaced. Of course you also have to scrape and clean the walls filling in any cracks. Now comes the re-tarring of the walls laying new draintiles and backfilling in the dirt you dug out of the whole.

This is not something recommended. Now days you have codes that must be followed and safety measures to adhere to. You need to know what you are doing as far as installing the draintiles and discharge lines. There are obviously many foundation problems that may be structural in nature which should be repaired by a professional. Some instances of large cracking could be a sign of settlement which would require piering or shoring up the footer of foundation. Remember the basement or foundation is what holds your house up!!

As for minor cracking or rod hole leaks in poured foundations and cracking of mortar joints in block foundations, there are DIY products available to the homeowner which have been designed to be user friendly and relatively affordable.

For block foundation wall cracking visit Carbon Wall Repair

A wet basement is incredibly too common. According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, 60% of homes are plagued by a wet basement.

Unattended leaks can rot a home's structure, attract termites and other pests, and cause mold to flourish. Any of these problems could require costly repairs. The worst thing you can do is ignore a water or moisture problem in the basement. Here are a few simple fixes - some you can even do yourself - that won't cost a bundle.

  • Maintaining Outside Drainage: If you have water in your basement, find the source. The best place to start looking for the cause of the water problem is outside. Usually, it is problem with the outside drainage system. Either it is a bent, clogged or missing gutter; an overloaded downspout; or a clogged or broken underground collection pipe. Make sure all collected water drains away from the house and any discharge pipes extend at least three feet from the foundation.

  • Add a Window Well Cover: One common place water gets into the basement is through the basement windows. Rain water seeps down into the window well and finds a crack or a seam to get inside the basement. While you can seal the window seams, another easy fix is to add a window well cover. There are plastic window well covers available that will let sunshine in but keep water out.

  • Fill the Cracks: Any crack in the foundation wall will be a path of least resistance for any ground water to enter the basement. One of the most common mistakes people make when fixing concrete cracks is not completely filling the crack. Surface caulking that just covers the first few inches of the crack will not fix the crack. To fully fix a crack and prevent it from leaking, you need to inject the crack with either epoxy or polyurethane material. There are do-it-yourself crack injection kits available but you can also hire a professional. Cracks also could signify a structural problem. If that is that case, you are going to need more than crack injection services. It is best to get an inspection of the scope of work.

  • Sealing Walls: Sometimes the basement wall can seep water. Basement sealers are products that you or a contractor can brush directly onto the foundation walls of your basement to protect it against water seepage. You should know, however, that basement sealers are not a permanent solution; this is more of a bandage-type fix. Many homeowners who apply basement sealers need to keep up with constant maintenance to prevent water leakage and seepage from reoccurring. And, obviously, this type of fix requires exposed foundation walls, so if your basement is finished with gypsum board walls this approach is not an option.

  • Add a Sump Pump: A sump can also be created to deal with water problems in an unfinished basement. A contractor breaks through about a 2-by-2 hole in your basement floor. The contractor then installs a waterproof box with a small pump inside. The water is captured and pumped through a small pipe outside the basement where it will do no harm.

  • Dry the Air: Even if you don't have standing water in your basement, high humidity can also lead to problems. Condensation happens when the air inside the basement is warmer than the cold slab and concrete walls. A dehumidifier will help control the humidity level in the air. However a dehumidifier is not a cure all. Make sure all the water leaks are fixed and no water is moving into the basement before you install a dehumidifier. If you don't fix the leaks, it will overwork the dehumidifier and cost a bundle in energy. Remember, the ideal relative humidity level is 50%. You can create different problems with air that is too dry.

If your water problems are bigger than what we have described in this article, (say you have a have a three feet of water in your basement or water is continually seeping through the wall and the floor) than it may be time to call in a professional. Remedial waterproofing contractors and structural repair contractors are trained to install exterior or interior basement drainage systems.

The professionals will be able to assess your situation and determine the best solutions. No matter what, don't ignore the problem. Ignoring a water problem in your basement will only turn what could have been an easy fix into a problem that will make your home environment unsafe and will cost thousands of dollars to fix in the end.

Even a little water down there means big trouble. Avoid it with these low-cost ways to dry out.

Plug cracks and holes. Watch for water entering through seams between concrete blocks, cracks in old concrete or holes where pipes penetrate the foundation. If you find such gaps, fill them with hydraulic cement (cost: $10 for a 10-pound container - probably more than enough - at any hardware store). Just mix water with this powder to get the consistency of toothpaste and press as much of it as you can into the opening after you brush out any loose debris. It will harden into a watertight seam.

Seal damp walls. Sometimes water seeps right through the pores of a foundation wall or floor, leaving a telltale white powder behind when it dries. Sure, you could fix the problem by having the exterior of your foundation waterproofed, but that would mean excavating the yard - and paying $5,000 to $15,000. Treat the interior surface instead by painting on Xypex, a professional-grade brush-on sealant (cost: about $130 for enough to cover one wall). It's not available at home stores, but you can get it by calling 800-363-2002.

Dry the air. Even if you don't have any leaks, high humidity is all that mold needs to take root on organic materials such as wood, wallboard and even dust. So if your basement air smells musty, pick up the largest Energy Star-rated, digitally controlled dehumidifier you can find (cost: about $300). Forget about the built-in collection bucket - there's no way you'll empty it every day - and instead use a plastic hose to discharge the water into a utility sink or floor drain. John Lombardi, a basement waterproofer in Silverton, Ore., advises setting the controls to 50% humidity, which is too dry for mold.

Bring in the big guns. If you're getting full-scale floods or see water entering between the wall and the floor, call a basement waterproofing company. Go to the website of the National Association of Waterproofing and Structural Repair Contractors (nawsrc.org), find a few local companies and ask for a free assessment. They will probably recommend a sump pump, an in-floor machine that removes water under your cellar and costs about $2,000 installed. (Aboveground pumps are meant for emergencies, not long-term use.) The best units have a second pump for extreme rainstorms and a battery-operated third in case of a power outage.

The company may also recommend adding an in-floor gutter (cost: $3,000 to $5,000) around the perimeter of your basement floor to collect water and deliver it to the pump. Make sure that the firm you choose provides a warranty that your basement will remain dry for the life of the building. You'll never be afraid to head downstairs again.

Basement Lights A combination of recessed and hanging lighting can alleviate the gloom typical of traditional unfinished basements. Basements do not have to look like a basement

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