How to Install Exterior Basement Waterproofing

Lead Image
  • 25-50 hours
  • Beginner
  • 1,000-5,000
What You'll Need
Backhoe (can be rented)
Drain tile (or drain pipe)

Exterior basement waterproofing is considered by many to be one of the most expensive and labor-intensive home improvement projects to undertake. Waterproofing jobs are notoriously tricky. It's not uncommon for problems that homeowners thought would be small to explode into expensive, time-consuming ordeals.

Fortunately, with the right knowledge, waterproofing your basement does not have to be the painful task that many individuals think it is. Basement waterproofing doesn't have to be a fiasco. By keeping calm, possessing knowledge of the job, and carefully planning your course of action, you can waterproof your basement without draining your pocketbook or causing unnecessary stress in your life.

Although many homeowners opt to hire a contractor to waterproof their basements, it is a somewhat simple procedure to perform on your own, provided you own or rent the right equipment. The information below will take you through the basic process of installing exterior basement waterproofing.

Step 1 - Preparation

In order to prepare your basement for waterproofing, you must first expose the area in which you'll be working. Using the backhoe, dig up the dirt around your home. You must get to the base of your foundation. Depending on the structure of your home, you may only have to dig a little bit, or you may have to dig up your whole yard.

Step 2 - Installing the Drain Tile

Your drain tile will not work best if you place it on top of the foundation footer. Instead, place it alongside the footer. To get around corners, buy fitted pipes. After installing the drain pipe, you must cover it with gravel. Pour enough gravel to have the gravel at the top of the foundation footer.

Step 3 - Backfill

Cover your drain tile with a 3-foot level of gravel. If you can afford it, add gravel until it is within 18-inches of finish grade level or the final ground level around your building. Although it is tempting to use as little gravel as possible, the less you use, the quicker your drain tile will become compromised.

You can't add more gravel when your system becomes compromised and your basement leaks. It is more economical to buy more gravel now and avoid having to waterproof your basement again in the future. To keep the dirt from obstructing your drain, cover the gravel with a 4-inch layer of straw or tar paper before adding the backfill dirt.

Step 4 - Water Outlet

You have a few choices when it comes to your water outlet. Gravity is on your side if your home is on a hill; however, if you are working on level ground, you are a bit more limited. Your 2 main options are a sump pit or a French drain.
A sump pit can be installed inside of your basement and the water collected in your drain tile will be mechanically pumped. A French drain is an underground, gravel-filled pit to which the drain tile directs water.

Sump pits are notoriously difficult to install. It is quite expensive to pay a contractor to install one. French drains are much easier, but are not ideal in places where the water table is not below the level of your basement. If installed correctly, your drain tile should provide you with adequate protection.

Although you may have heard that drain tiles are inadequate when it comes to waterproofing basements, taking care when installing so your drain tile will provide you with an efficient, effective means of waterproofing your basement.