Waterproofing New Concrete Foundations

Waterproofing may be the least exciting phase of construction, but it’s one of the most crucial. While there really isn’t any artistry involved, it’s easy to overlook the importance and just go through the motions. Many builders want to rush through things and get this phase of the job done quickly, but if you want to avoid any future problems in callbacks, leaks and so on, you must take the time to get this step right. Always remember that it only takes one hole in your drinking glass to ruin your shirt!

Other than a fire, probably the worst thing that can happen to a residential structure is a foundation problem. The foundation is literally what the house is built on, what keeps the building where it was built, transferring the dead loads and the live loads into the ground.

The source of the vast majority of foundation problems is water. Wet soil beneath a foundation can swell or lose strength. And that’s only the first reason to keep the foundation dry. Then there’s the potential that wet damp basements and crawl spaces could breed mold and make below-ground interior spaces generally unpleasant. The problem is that typical concrete is not waterproof. Although it may not be cracked (which is actually rare) it will typically keep out liquid water, water vapor can still penetrate quite easily. Keeping water drained away from concrete foundations and preventing it from moving through the concrete are essential to a successful structure.

Accomplishing our goal, then, of draining any water away and ensuring a dry interior space below grade can be relatively simple or fairly involved depending on geographic location, climate, topography, soil/water table conditions, and depth of the foundation. There are three components of any system designed to keep water out. These are, from the bottom up:

  • Drains to move water away from the bottom of the foundation
  • Wall treatment to prevent moisture from moving through the wall and to route water down to the drains
  • Ground surface treatment adjacent to the building to direct surface water away

And remember that since this will mostly be underground when the building is complete, doing it right the first time is critical, because coming back to fix it is an expensive undertaking. A leaky foundation in a residential building can damage finishes and furnishings, even the structure itself. In a commercial building, water can ruin expensive equipment and disrupt vital work. It all adds up to lost money, wasted time, upset customers and sometimes litigation.

Water Damage to Your Home Could Be Very Costly

Aside from the obvious cost of repairs, which can escalate if the water source isn’t found and repaired, there’s also the cost to your family’s health from infections and respiratory ailments stemming from moulds. Water can seep into your home from many sources, inside and outside your walls.

If you have water leaking into your home, how do you tell from shutterstock_139231043where?


The most likely place you’ll find water is the basement, because it’s the lowest point of the house. Basement water can come from several sources: eavestroughs, foundations, sewers, pipes. Each has its own repairs.


If you spot the ceiling under a bathroom starting to bubble and flake, chances are you’ve got a leak in your bathtub, shower, toilet or sink. Don’t wait! See if you can find the source of the leak! In some cases, it may be just a matter of re-caulking the area around the tub. Or making sure you put the curtain in place properly next time you have a shower.

To see where it is leaking behind the tile. You may be able to cut a hole in the drywall gently. Shine a flashlight in and watch as someone runs the water! If you see a lot of water, then it may mean the tiles and grout around the bathtub have failed and are allowing water in behind. This means you’ll probably be best off replacing wall and tiles all in one go. It’s an expensive renovation, but necessary before more serious damage occurs to floor joists and ceilings below.


If you find water on the floor or dripping from your pipes, don’t panic! It may just be condensation. A quick fix is to insulate the cold water pipes with a foam cover, available at any hardware store.


Blocked downspouts can back up your eavestroughs and these can spill down the walls into the house. If you are having leaks and you suspect the downspouts, relieve the burden on the draining around your home by disconnecting the downspout and ensuring it ejects water at least a couple of metres from the house to a surface that slopes away from it. Remember, most cities require downspouts be disconnected from the storm sewer!


Generally, the one of the most likely culprits in the event of water leaking into through the basement walls is your eavestroughs and downspouts. Clogged downspouts cause eavestroughs to back up and spill rain water running off the roof down the side of the house where it can penetrate the siding or drain directly onto the foundation wall where tiny cracks will allow it to seep into the basement.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp says it’s a good plan to inspect your eavestroughs annually to ensure they are not clogged, and don’t have low spots where water can pool.

You check the water flow by running a hose into your eavestroughs and checking the water flows to the downspout and drains without backing up. Of course, you have to make sure they and not blocked with leaves and debris. It’s a fairly easy job to clean and inspect your eavestroughs, but many people are spooked working high off the ground. There are businesses that will do this for you.

Foundation Walls

Foundation walls crack, this is very common. Concrete spends a lifetime curing and moving with the freeze-thaw cycles. When a house settles and the concrete hardens, cracks appear. You may not see these cracks and sometimes they’re not a major issue, unless there’s water nearby. Then it’s an issue.

There are different ways to fix a leaky foundation wall. The outside fix is more expensive and disruptive. It involves digging a trench around the perimeter, sometimes reinstalling weeping tile (see below) and sealing the walls with a elastomeric membrane material.

The inside fix is faster and more reasonable. It could involve removing any drywall and studs to expose the crack, then injecting it with a flexible elastomeric resin which will seal the crack right through to the outside, and blocks the water out.


Ensure all landscaping around the perimeter of your house slopes away from the foundation.


Water pipes can and do leaks, seals in fixtures wear out. Sink drains can spring a leak and toilets can shift off their sealing gaskets. Generally, these are do-it-yourself fixes. If you’re not handy with copper, call a licensed plumber, but for the most part sink drains, toilets and tap fittings can be replaced or tightened with a wrench and screw driver.


A roof leak is a big issue, because, not only will it damage any fibreglass insulation in the walls and attic nearby, it’s also the most likely place to get mould. It will also weaken the home’s structure with rot. They’re also the hardest for homeowners to fix, not just because of they’re up high and you are working on a roof, but because of the skill required. Get it wrong and you could make it worse! Roof leaks are usually easy to spot, because the drywall will blister and flake.

See if you can inspect the roof in that area! If it is 20 years old or more, it’s probably time for a new one. If there are any missing, cracked or damaged shingles in the area and the rest of the roof is good, a repair could do the trick. If you can’t see anything, get up in the attic if you can and inspect the location above the leak. It may be there’s a leak around a roof or drain vent which is to blame. This will mean getting to the location and refitting the flange seal or replacing it.

If you can’t find it, then you may have to resort to some infra-red or thermal scanning technology to isolate the sources. Call local roofers and get estimates!

Sump pump

Some homes sit on top of underground waterways and have chronic issues with the water constantly flowing around or under their home which finds its way inside. Other houses are in low-lying areas which may not drain as quickly after a storm. In those cases, a sump pump is a solution. A sump pump is a self-contained system which sits in a pit in the basement floor. As water enters, a float-switch kicks on the motor which pumps the water out and away from the house.

Weeping Tile

Weeping tile is a system of small pebbles and perforated pipe laid along the perimeter of the house at the footings. Water drains down, through the small aggregate and into the pipe, where it drains away from the house. If your basement is constantly leaking from the bottom of the foundation, it may be the weeping tiles have failed, because they’re blocked with debris or have broken. Fixing it isn’t easy or cheap. It’ll require digging up the perimeter down to the footings and installing a new system of weeping tiles.

An easier, faster and less invasive way to repair this is by hiring a company that specializes in interior drain systems.


Basement windows can leak if they are old and rotten or if the caulking at grade has failed. More likely is dirt has piled up outside and caused water to drain back towards them or the slope of the yard is forcing water back to the house.

A common cause of basement leaking is window wells. These are for windows sunk below the grade in a basement and are half-oval depressions with gravel in them to allow water to drain. It’s a good idea to shovel out snow in the springtime from window wells to minimize the melt. There should be a drain under all those stones to collects the water. Dirt and debris collects in there over time and blocks the drain, so there’s no place for water to go but back into the foundation through the wall, that is. Keeping window wells clean and ensuring the drain is working will head off leaks and may fix that leak you already have.

Sewer backups

Sewer backups are the worst of all leaks. Flooding of this nature if usually caused by heavy rains which overwhelms sewer systems. If it’s not a storm, it’s usually a blockage emanating from the house. Where that blockage is — it can be caused by debris in the pipe or tree roots — will determine who pays to fix it. If it’s on your side of the property line, you’re on the hook. The municipality or city will fix it if it’s on their side. Whether it is storm water or a blocked pipe, the net effect is the same. Toxic sewage backs up into the basement, destroying flooring, drywall and furniture and pretty well anything it comes in contact with. Restoration is expensive and, even with insurance, the deductible is often around $1,000.

There is a solution if you’re in an area with chronic sewer back-up and that’s a backwater valve, which can be installed on your sewage system between your floor drain and exit pipe. It’s essentially a one-way valve. The sewage and waste water drains out, but the valve will swing back and stop liquid that wants to flow back into the house. It could be an expensive installation as the basement will have to be dug up in that location, the main drain cut and the valve installed. The price will vary according to where that location is and how accessible it is.

Many cities in Canada have programs which encourages single-family home owners to install a backwater valve. Often there are programs in place to offset some of the cost. In Toronto for example, it will pay up to 80 per cent of the cost of installation, to a maximum of $1, 250, if the City approves the application.

Summertime, when a dry basement is easy

SUMMERIn those lazy hazy days of summer, a leaky basement is probably the furthest thing from your mind. When you do go into the basement does it feel cool and comfortable – or damp and moldy? If damp and moldy, you could very easily just have condensation (sweating because warm humid air is meeting the cold concrete wall) or perhaps water seeping in through your foundation walls. Just because you don’t see water pouring into the basement in the middle of August, doesn’t mean you don’t need a foundation repair. It is however, the best time to prepare for the wet seasons ahead. If you’ve had water in the past, chances are it will happen again when the water table rises.

Should you call a professional?

Hydrostatic water pressure pushing against your foundation walls can enter into your home if your drains are not functioning. Settling, plus seasonal freezing and thawing can contribute to or open up existing cracks in the foundation that could leak. If you have a finished basement, you may not be able to see any problem areas, but you’ll probably notice a musty smell or feel heavy or damp air as you walk down the stairs. You may also notice discoloration on concrete walls or floor where water may have entered. Even worse, you may notice extra ground water around the perimeter of your home or flooding inside. This could be a sign of blocked or broken weeping tiles, and a definite sign you should contact the experts.

Interior or exterior waterproofing ?

Simple interior cracks and gaps can be filled with a polyurethane resin. Interior or “negative side waterproofing” is generally done when water has already entered, and you have a wet basement. An interior drainage system may be required to redirect excess water through new pipes to a sump pump. While this work can be completed any time, handling this during a drier season will make the job go faster and more efficiently.

Exterior issues can sometimes be identified and corrected with simple re-grading, or some may require more extensive and disruptive work. Exterior repairs are generally more expensive than interior options though, because of landscaping and other costly expenses. Also, exterior options often do not carry any warranty.

Sump pump installation

One of the most effective and efficient way to help prevent basement leaking is through the installation of proper sump pump and pit. This appliance should be professionally installed in an approved pit in the basement floor. Water is directed through the drainage around the inside perimeter of your basement to the sump pump pit. When the water level rises, it activates the pump to safely move water to an outlet pipe and then outside the home. If your drains are clogged, plugged or non-existent, than this is the perfect time to have an interior drain system installed. It’s a good idea to add a battery back-up unit to protect against power outages during unexpected summer storms. They are well worth the protection they offer.

Preventative maintenance ?

Summertime provides the best opportunity to tackle yard work and exterior maintenance to your home. There’s no better time to clean out your gutters, add extensions if necessary, clean out window wells and ensure storm drains are free of debris. While you’re doing yard work, remember to take the time to observe and ensure that the ground is sloped away from the foundation and not toward it. A few hours of preventative maintenance now will save problems from occurring later. Now go ahead, and enjoy that little bit of summer we have left.


Spring Rains and Leaky Basements

There’s a simple reason why rain in the early new year months floods so many basements. There are a number of events that all come together likebasement wall leak a perfect storm. The conditions are as follows;

1/. The ground outside is frozen. Perhaps from 4-16 inches depending on how cold it’s been. Right now in HRM it’s at least 8 inches minimum and more in some areas.

2/. There’s existing snow on the ground.

3/. Then you get mild temperatures and rain along with it.

4/. At this point, you know what’s going to happen. None of the rain is going to penetrate into the ground because it’s frozen. So it just lays there and builds up, and because it will always take the ” path of least resistance”, it drains and runs to the lowest places, running right along your foundation.

5/. The heat in your basement warms up the concrete wall and transfers some of that heat to the exterior, just slightly and enough to keep the frost away ever so slightly by about an inch from your foundation.

6/.When you get rain, and melting snow, this water runs along the top of the frozen ground until it hits your foundation……where there’s an inch of unfrozen ground and will enter in through any cracks or deficiencies in your foundation, around lower level windows, even sometimes over the top of the actual foundation wall.

7/. The results of any leaking into your basement will not be good. Sometimes even relatively healthy exterior drains can be overloaded. It’s like having a small stream or river pouring next to your wall. Then water enters from under the floor or hydrostatically between your floor and the concrete wall.

So in a perfect world, you would have the ground running away from the foundation and all downspouts as well, and ensure this has been done prior to Old Man Winter making his visit.

Cambridge Wise Cracks – Foundation Repair & Waterproofing

Cambridge Wise Cracks

Wise Cracks is your interior crack injection repair and basement foundation waterproofing specialists serving Cambridge and Waterloo Region. Trust Wise Cracks to provide professional, cost effective and timely year-round service.  Wise Cracks are industry leaders using time tested and proven repair processes.

Contact us today! Contact form and info below.

Our Services:

Foundation Waterproofing & Concrete Repair

Inside and outside foundation crack repairs, basement waterproofing & concrete repair Year-round service.

Turn your wet basement into a dry basement cost effectively by:

– Interior crack injection repair using Wise Seal® flexible resin
– Wise Dry® interior drainage system (french drains)
– Exterior excavation crack repairs & waterproofing
– Window well repairs, installation and replacement.
– Window well covers
– Sump pump replacement
– Parging

Please fill out the contact form below or email to wisecracks@bell.net
or call 855-947-1455

Cambridge Wise Cracks Key Benefits

– Free Estimates
– Life time transferable warranty in most cases
– Year round services
– Costly exterior excavation is not necessary
– Minimal disruption to the client
– Clean and efficient repair process
– Non intrusive process with no odours and non toxic cured product
– Impermeable to water and chemical resistant
– Environmentally friendly
– Closed nature of our resin makes it unaffected by freeze-thaw cycles
– Extremely cost effective

Leaky Basement? Contact Cambridge Wise Cracks Today!

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Wise Cracks – Cambridge, Ontario
Wise Cracks Concrete Technologies Inc.

425 Hespeler Road Unit 316
Cambridge, ON.  N1R 8J6

Each location is locally owned and operated.

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  • winterprep-538x218

Winter is hard on houses. You can however, reduce your risk of property damage from the hazards of cold weather with these home maintenance tips from Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).

“With an increase in extreme weather events causing more property damage, it’s important to follow a home maintenance schedule all year round. In winter, there are several measures you can take to safeguard your home against the dangers of cold conditions. This can help protect you against potentially urgent and costly home repairs,” says Amanda Dean, Director External and Government Relations, IBC Atlantic.  

You can protect your property with these tips:

  • Keep floor drains clear of obstructions.
  • Test plumbing shut-off valves to ensure they are working and to prevent them from seizing.
  • Check all faucets for dripping and change washers as needed. Faucets requiring frequent replacement of washers may be in need of repair.
  • If you have a plumbing fixture that is not used frequently run some water briefly to keep water in the trap.
  • If you will be away from home during the winter for more than three days, drain the plumbing or arrange to have someone come in and check your home to ensure that your heat is on.
  • Examine windows and doors for ice accumulation or cold air leaks. If found, make a note to repair or replace in the spring.
  • Examine attic for frost accumulation. Check roof for ice dams or icicles. If there is excessive frost or staining of the underside of the roof, or ice dams on the roof surface, consult the tips from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation for practical solutions.
  • Keep snow clear of oil tanks, gas meters, gas appliance vents, exhaust vents, basement windows and chimneys. Consult with an appropriate contractor or your gas utility for information on how to safely deal with any ice problems you may discover.
  • Ensure tree and shrub branches are well away from the house and windows. Icy conditions can cause branches to break and damage your home.

Re-directing downspouts on your home

We all know that downspouts from eavestrough should be re-directed away from our foundations. The volumes of water that come off a roof can be quite substantial during times of rain, when you consider it will be concentrated at the discharge point in two or more corners of the foundation. The main challenge with this is that if there are any defects in the foundation such as cracks, tie holes, honeycomb in the concrete etc., in this vicinity, water may enter through. It is important to have these defects repaired in your foundation. Once these items are repaired, then the next step is to re-direct the downspouts. This will keep as much water as you can away from the repaired areas which is very important, especially given that some defects could be below grade or so small they are almost hidden from view and can easily be missed. The large volume of water that comes from a downspout can seep through the ground forming paths or fissures. The long this goes on, the more the ground erodes causing them to be larger and wider. The problem with this is that the water makes its way down to the footing drains, and brings soil right along with it, speeding up the rate at which the drains will become silted up. If they are already silted up, the excess volume of water will only add to the hydrostatic pressure thus forcing the water between the wall and footing and up onto the floor inside the house.

                The little attachments and pieces of eavestrough or ABS often used by homeowners to redirect often look like a eight to ten foot section of pipe or eavestrough running away from the house. One way to eliminate unsightly sections of pipe and re-direct the flow away from the exterior wall is to direct the flow away by grading the soil away from the foundation and making sure it slopes away from the house.water

What makes a good Waterproofing Company?

best waterproofing company

customer service good waterproofing company

Wise Cracks® loves helping people and we’re passionate about. This shows from our first contact with the client to the clean up after the job. The health of your home starts in your basement! So, how can you tell what makes a good waterproofing company?

We wish homeowners would call and ask questions (ask questions and book a free initial consultation or assessment) regarding basement leaks and whether the

Some think that repairs have to be done on the outside only, which is not true. However, if it is better considering all the circumstances, we will advise them. We always offer the homeowner what would be their best choice, (even if we are not involved), and “in their best interest”. We also direct them to good honest plumbers, electricians, whatever, if we are able.

We want people to know that you don’t always have to dig around the house and rip out the old plugged drain, put in  new drains, and if they fail that is an expensive undertaking and most times no warranty from an excavation contractor.  Our Wise Dry® Interior drain system is usually less than half the price and comes with a lifetime warranty. That’s like 4 times the value!

Honesty and integrity, quality in product and workmanship and decades of knowledge and wisdom are our building blocks f

or success. Success is making the world a better (and dryer) place to live.

There hasn’t been one basement yet that we couldn’t fix.

We also can trouble shoot landscape errors, structural defects, etc. Advice is free and can save you thousands.

We wish people knew that we do this effectively all year around, from simple crack injections to interior drain systems.

Two Main points: 

Customer service from a basement “waterproofing company” should be nothing short of top notch; the work should be able to be done

all year round wet or dry.

Also, check for BBB affiliation and other awards such as Consumer Choice Award Winners etc.to see if that helps you choose a good waterproofing company.

If you think it can’t be fixed-call us!  All we want is the best for you ™.


Foundation Repair – Waterproofing- Saint John Wise Cracks

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Award Winning Foundation Repair and Waterproofing Specialists

For all of your foundation repair and waterproofing requirements in Saint John trust Wise Cracks to provide professional and timely services.  Wise Cracks are industry leaders in leaky basement waterproofing. We even have financing available.


Locally owned and operated, Wise Cracks of Saint John is dedicated to providing a worry-free experience whether the job is big or small.  Winners of the “Emerging Enterprise” of the year by the Saint John Board of Trade. Our polite team members will respect your home or place of business, explain the issues that are causing your foundation leaks, and recommend long term warranted solutions. Contact us today! Contact form and info below.

Our Services

  • Crack Injections
  • Exterior MembranesBoard of Trade 4
  • Interior Drain Systems
  • Sump Pump Sales & Installation
  • Video Camera Pipe Inspection
  • Concrete Floor Repairs

Saint John Wise Cracks Key Benefits:

  • Lifetime Transferable Warranty
  • Cost Effective Solutions for Wet Basements
  • Environmentally Friendly Products
  • Factory Trained Technicians
  • Foundation repairs without costly excavation

Wet Basement? Call Saint John Wise Cracks Today!

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Wise Cracks – Saint John, New Brunswick
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