How To Waterproof Your Rental Property Basement

The basement is an important part of your property to protect so let's take a look at the issues around how to best waterproof your rental property basement.

The basement is an important part of your property to protect so let’s take a look at the issues around how to best waterproof your rental property basement.

By Phil Schaller

Aside from providing additional living space (or storage), many critical systems and structures live in the basement (think plumbing, the foundation, electrical panel, etc.).

One of the most damaging things to any property is water. If a pipe bursts in the basement, the foundation leaks, or the washer malfunctions, you want to make sure the basement can handle the water damage. Enter: waterproofing.

There are several ways you can waterproof the basement. We’ll take a quick look at each so you can determine what solution is best for your property. But first, let’s take a look at why basements are especially susceptible to water damage:

  • Drainage: If water naturally runs towards your property, this puts you at an increased risk of water damage. Water should run away from the foundation when possible (we’ll explore a solution below if that’s not the case).
  • Foundation: Cracks or deterioration in the foundation can be a source of moisture build-up in the basement (especially if the drainage isn’t dialed in). Water can seep through the foundation after heavy rain and cause foundation and wall damage.
  • Plumbing failure: If a pipe bursts or even if there’s a small plumbing leak, water can pool in the basement. Because many basements have a lot of plumbing infrastructure, they have a bit higher probability of water damage.

Waterproofing is important in the event of flooding or moisture damage to negate any mold, flooring damage, or drywall damage, and the list goes on. Here are three methods for waterproofing the basement:

French drain: This can be a more costly way to combat water buildup, but a French drain is a great solution. You can run a French drain along the side of the property where the natural slope of the land pushes water towards the foundation. A French drain will capture much of the water that would otherwise seep into the foundation and carry it away from the property.

Interior sealant: Sealing up the floors and walls is a pretty cost-effective way to prevent structural damage (mainly to floors and walls). The process involves applying waterproofing sealant to the walls and floors. You’ll want to wash the walls/floors first, seal any cracks with epoxy, and then apply the sealant. Paint or any flooring would need to be removed before the sealant is added.

Exterior waterproofing: Waterproofing the exterior of your property can take many forms (installing a French drain being one). It’s helpful to check and clean the gutters, make sure downspouts are aimed away from the foundation and working properly, and ensure foliage is at a proper distance from the foundation (one foot for plants and at least 3 feet for trees). Finally, where possible, make sure the soil and earth are sloped away from the foundation.

Some properties may require just one waterproofing solution while others may warrant all three. If you have any questions about how to waterproof your rental property basement or how to prevent water damage, please feel free to reach out anytime.

About the author:

Phil Schaller is an experienced landlord and the founder/CEO of RentalRiff – an alternative service to traditional property management. With RentalRiff, landlords can hire a dedicated “property specialist” (licensed/insured general contractor or handyman) who will provide ongoing support and upkeep of rental properties, while serving as the main point of contact for tenants. Maintenance and repair costs are included in the monthly fee. Phil is a Pacific Northwest native, father of two, and fly-fishing addict. You can reach RentalRiff at 541-600-3200.

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