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Rubber Membrane Basement - DIY?

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  • Jan 31st, 2018 7:09 pm
[OP]
Deal Addict
Jun 11, 2010
1326 posts
723 upvotes
ottawa

Rubber Membrane Basement - DIY?

Hey RFD,

I'm attempting to finish my basement, I don't have a moisture concern to be honest, but I'd rather play it safe than sorry.

So I looked into rubber membranes for the exterior concrete walls and was thinking to myself if it would be possible to DIY this? I have easy access to 3 sides of my house, one has the driveway on top, but the driveway does need to be redone so tearing up the asphalt could actually be fine.

What I'm more concerned about is how hard is it to dig down to the footing of the concrete using a shovel? Is there any tool rental available to help? Or would an excavation company be willing to do the excavation where I could then shovel it back when complete?

Thanks everyone :)
15 replies
Deal Addict
Dec 17, 2007
2344 posts
1322 upvotes
Alliston, ON
You can rent a mini excavator for about $160/day and dig it yourself. Make sure you call to have all the locates done before digging
I wouldn't try to hand dig all 3 sides of your house, a small section sure, but doing 6-7ft deep by 40ish ft long each side will take you all summer
Sr. Member
Oct 14, 2012
681 posts
411 upvotes
Woodstock
Please be very aware of the safety requirements for working in a trench. Google something like "safety collapse digging trench for foundation repair" and read up. Trench collapses have killed workers.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Jun 11, 2010
1326 posts
723 upvotes
ottawa
BetCrooks wrote: Please be very aware of the safety requirements for working in a trench. Google something like "safety collapse digging trench for foundation repair" and read up. Trench collapses have killed workers.
That's a good point actually and I did realise it was a huge issue and a reason that you want to slope trenches back from the house.
schade wrote: You can rent a mini excavator for about $160/day and dig it yourself. Make sure you call to have all the locates done before digging
I wouldn't try to hand dig all 3 sides of your house, a small section sure, but doing 6-7ft deep by 40ish ft long each side will take you all summer
Thanks for this - $160 a day really isn't that bad actually. Since it's not a structural concern I'm wondering if I should just do one side per year kind of thing. I dug up about three feet on one side last year to re parge and it was a solids day work so maybe dig one side up over one weekend, patch and membrane the next, and refill the one after.

Anyone bother doing French drains while you're at it or no point ?
Deal Addict
Jan 8, 2009
3997 posts
2426 upvotes
Ontario
barqers wrote: Hey RFD,

I'm attempting to finish my basement, I don't have a moisture concern to be honest, but I'd rather play it safe than sorry.

So I looked into rubber membranes for the exterior concrete walls and was thinking to myself if it would be possible to DIY this? I have easy access to 3 sides of my house, one has the driveway on top, but the driveway does need to be redone so tearing up the asphalt could actually be fine.

What I'm more concerned about is how hard is it to dig down to the footing of the concrete using a shovel? Is there any tool rental available to help? Or would an excavation company be willing to do the excavation where I could then shovel it back when complete?

Thanks everyone :)
It is difficult and expensive to try to stop water getting into a basement. The weeping tile system is meant to prevent a build up of hydrostatic pressure on the outside as almost all basements will leak water if a head of water builds up against the outside wall surface. The best way to retrofit a drainage system is to fix a drainage membrane to the inside (bubbled plastic sheet) and run it to drains in gravel running around the internal perimeter to a pit with a sump pump. Then the basement can be finished knowing any water that finds its way in can be dealt with.

If you have a sump pump and weeping tile system which is in good condition it is probably a waste of money to try to "tank" the outside walls. If not professionally done it is possible the disruption could upset the status quo and create a problem that was not there before.

If your only concern is possible dampness then covering the inside concrete (or block) with felt paper is effective to protect the insulation. lap the upper sheets on top of the lower sheets. However if water gets in behind it it will come out at baseboard level but at least the rockwool will be dry.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Jun 11, 2010
1326 posts
723 upvotes
ottawa
Martin (deal addict) wrote: It is difficult and expensive to try to stop water getting into a basement. The weeping tile system is meant to prevent a build up of hydrostatic pressure on the outside as almost all basements will leak water if a head of water builds up against the outside wall surface. The best way to retrofit a drainage system is to fix a drainage membrane to the inside (bubbled plastic sheet) and run it to drains in gravel running around the internal perimeter to a pit with a sump pump. Then the basement can be finished knowing any water that finds its way in can be dealt with.

If you have a sump pump and weeping tile system which is in good condition it is probably a waste of money to try to "tank" the outside walls. If not professionally done it is possible the disruption could upset the status quo and create a problem that was not there before.

If your only concern is possible dampness then covering the inside concrete (or block) with felt paper is effective to protect the insulation. lap the upper sheets on top of the lower sheets. However if water gets in behind it it will come out at baseboard level but at least the rockwool will be dry.
You're quite right actually that the outside may be disturbed trying to excavate. In this case I may just go from the inside, I was going to install rigid foam + tape to get a moisture barrier on the walls, and then delta FL up to the framing with a plastic sheet running under the sill to on top of the delta fl + taped down so any moisture is locked to the concrete. I guess going from the outside is a bit overkill.
Deal Addict
Jan 8, 2009
3997 posts
2426 upvotes
Ontario
barqers wrote: You're quite right actually that the outside may be disturbed trying to excavate. In this case I may just go from the inside, I was going to install rigid foam + tape to get a moisture barrier on the walls, and then delta FL up to the framing with a plastic sheet running under the sill to on top of the delta fl + taped down so any moisture is locked to the concrete. I guess going from the outside is a bit overkill.
The key is to have a system to deal with any water that finds its way in. That is why there are sump pumps unless the basement is in free draining material such as sand with a low water table. The material used to create an interior system is very similar looking to Delta FL which is meant for floors. However installed properly it runs into gravel around the floor perimeter in which perforated Big O collects water and runs to a sump pump. Without the drains any water coming in will be directed to your flooring.
Deal Expert
Jan 27, 2006
16432 posts
9242 upvotes
Vancouver, BC
barqers wrote: You're quite right actually that the outside may be disturbed trying to excavate. In this case I may just go from the inside, I was going to install rigid foam + tape to get a moisture barrier on the walls, and then delta FL up to the framing with a plastic sheet running under the sill to on top of the delta fl + taped down so any moisture is locked to the concrete. I guess going from the outside is a bit overkill.
I don't know about dealing with water once it gets in as a primary line of defence. Everything I've seen so far goes in the opposite direction, deal with water while it's still outside and maybe put in some interior protection as a last line of defence. The problem with dealing with it inside is that the moisture level in the house starts getting high and if you accidentally trap some water between a membrane and the concrete floor (ie the floor wasn't flat to start with so you have pooling), ugly things start to grow like mould...

If you keep the water outside, sure it's a hard thing to do but much of that work is as you know excavating the dirt around the house safely. And you probably want to verify that any water is running away from the house and not towards it to keep the water issues down.

How about bringing in a consultant before you do any work to have a look at the area in question and suggest solutions? You can call a foundation company or two and pay them a few hundred to take a look and do some basic consulting to see what the best course of action would be. It's not like you are soaking them for money on a free estimate but you would be paying them money for a few hours of their time to do an assessment.
Deal Expert
User avatar
Jun 12, 2007
16126 posts
4951 upvotes
London
How old is this house? Most recent houses (15 years or so) already have a membrane like delta ms. There’s no point in doing additional stuff to the exterior wall

1) Lot grading. Rain water is suppose to flow away from the house. Due to settling of the ground over the years, water can flow toward the house and you’ll get leaks, no matter how good your waterproofing is. It might take as much as 1 dump truck full of dirt (10 cu yards) or 10 of those big yellow bags of dirt to correct bad grading

2) Check your insurance policy. Most now only cover a small amount of damage due to basement flooding (like $15k) and only sewer backup, not overland flooding . This only partially covers replacement of the furnace/water heater and decontamination. To get more insurance that provides coverage for a finished basement, some policies require a sewer back flow preventor and sump pump. Fortunately , some municipalities subsidize 2/3 the cost of installation. This should be done before finishing the basement

3) A lot of basement leaks are via the tie rod holes. When the basement wall was poured, the plywood forms are held together with long bolts. When concrete becomes solid and the forms are removed , there are holes left behind that go all the way through from the inside to the outside. The contractor is supposed to put a rubber plug into each hole and then fill with cement. A lot of time, the guy gets lazy and skips the rubber plug and then covers the hole with cement. You can’t tell once the cement has dried. It might not ever leak, but when it finally does, water just seems to pour out. Remove the builder’s insulation and check each hole for water seepage/ stains
Last edited by l69norm on Jan 31st, 2018 8:17 am, edited 5 times in total.
Deal Addict
Nov 16, 2011
1318 posts
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HAMILTON
Well, if you don't have moisture concerns, then I am not quite sure why you are concerned.

Seems as if it is a real waste of both time and money.

If you are " really " worried, then dig down a bit in one area to see what is actually there.

Once you start dicking around with stuff that isn't broken, you can create far more problems in the future.

The money you waste dealing with an issue that doesn't exist could probably be spent in actually finishing the basement.
Deal Addict
Oct 22, 2002
1909 posts
343 upvotes
'sauga
l69norm wrote: A lot of basement leaks are via the tie rod holes. When the basement wall was poured, the plywood forms are held together with long bolts. When concrete becomes solid and the forms are removed , there are holes left behind that go all the way through from the inside to the outside. The contractor is supposed to put a rubber plug into each hole and then fill with cement.
In my late-70's built house, my tie rod holes were 'plugged' with wine bottle corks (!) and covered up with a thin patch of mortar.

Yeah, they all leaked.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Jun 11, 2010
1326 posts
723 upvotes
ottawa
abstract808 wrote: In my late-70's built house, my tie rod holes were 'plugged' with wine bottle corks (!) and covered up with a thin patch of mortar.

Yeah, they all leaked.
I think mine are good because no leaks! The foundation is doing surprisingly well. My house is built in 1947 so 70 years old, it's why I'd like to do as much as I can to prevent anything from happening.
luckystrike1 wrote: Well, if you don't have moisture concerns, then I am not quite sure why you are concerned.

Seems as if it is a real waste of both time and money.

If you are " really " worried, then dig down a bit in one area to see what is actually there.

Once you start dicking around with stuff that isn't broken, you can create far more problems in the future.

The money you waste dealing with an issue that doesn't exist could probably be spent in actually finishing the basement.
Well I'm not really concerned with the money right now if it takes me 2 years to do the basement and I had some side projects along the way that's fine. I don't have any leaks, but if it rains heavily you can see dark spots in the corners. It doesn't accumulate enough to actually produce droplets though, however, it is enough to cause mold I'm sure? Either way, I know insulation will prevent the mold because it'll be sealed off from the damp. I'm parging the interior wall with waterproof parging and applying insulation on top which should kill 90% of the damp, but I figure if I have time this summer why not dig up and install rubber membrane as a +1 measure?
l69norm wrote: How old is this house? Most recent houses (15 years or so) already have a membrane like delta ms. There’s no point in doing additional stuff to the exterior wall

1) Lot grading. Rain water is suppose to flow away from the house. Due to settling of the ground over the years, water can flow toward the house and you’ll get leaks, no matter how good your waterproofing is. It might take as much as 1 dump truck full of dirt (10 cu yards) or 10 of those big yellow bags of dirt to correct bad grading

2) Check your insurance policy. Most now only cover a small amount of damage due to basement flooding (like $15k) and only sewer backup, not overland flooding . This only partially covers replacement of the furnace/water heater and decontamination. To get more insurance that provides coverage for a finished basement, some policies require a sewer back flow preventor and sump pump. Fortunately , some municipalities subsidize 2/3 the cost of installation. This should be done before finishing the basement

3) A lot of basement leaks are via the tie rod holes. When the basement wall was poured, the plywood forms are held together with long bolts. When concrete becomes solid and the forms are removed , there are holes left behind that go all the way through from the inside to the outside. The contractor is supposed to put a rubber plug into each hole and then fill with cement. A lot of time, the guy gets lazy and skips the rubber plug and then covers the hole with cement. You can’t tell once the cement has dried. It might not ever leak, but when it finally does, water just seems to pour out. Remove the builder’s insulation and check each hole for water seepage/ stains
The house is 70 years old. It doesn't leak, or have running water anywhere, but it does show dark spots after heavy rain. Slope and grading is good, I think the main issue is how old the foundation is, when I dug up the 3 feet or so last year I saw spalling along the back wall, but only about 1/2 to an inch of material came off the rest is rock solid. I parged with below grade parging and recovered, but now I'm thinking why not dig to the footings and just install membrane since it's relatively cheap.
craftsman wrote: I don't know about dealing with water once it gets in as a primary line of defence. Everything I've seen so far goes in the opposite direction, deal with water while it's still outside and maybe put in some interior protection as a last line of defence. The problem with dealing with it inside is that the moisture level in the house starts getting high and if you accidentally trap some water between a membrane and the concrete floor (ie the floor wasn't flat to start with so you have pooling), ugly things start to grow like mould...

If you keep the water outside, sure it's a hard thing to do but much of that work is as you know excavating the dirt around the house safely. And you probably want to verify that any water is running away from the house and not towards it to keep the water issues down.

How about bringing in a consultant before you do any work to have a look at the area in question and suggest solutions? You can call a foundation company or two and pay them a few hundred to take a look and do some basic consulting to see what the best course of action would be. It's not like you are soaking them for money on a free estimate but you would be paying them money for a few hours of their time to do an assessment.
We did speak to the inspector and structural engineer when we bought the house. Everything is sound and structurally solid. However, I was thinking if I could get a relatively easy to use tool and add the membrane then why not, was my train of thought.
Martin (deal addict) wrote: The key is to have a system to deal with any water that finds its way in. That is why there are sump pumps unless the basement is in free draining material such as sand with a low water table. The material used to create an interior system is very similar looking to Delta FL which is meant for floors. However installed properly it runs into gravel around the floor perimeter in which perforated Big O collects water and runs to a sump pump. Without the drains any water coming in will be directed to your flooring.
Right - so I don't have any water leaking issues, I do have dampness after heavy rain though, which does sometimes accumulate efflorescence. The insulation inside would be more than enough to prevent water from entering the insulation/framing, but I was thinking the +1 exterior would help more.
Deal Addict
Nov 9, 2008
1601 posts
596 upvotes
Toronto
barqers wrote: I think mine are good because no leaks! The foundation is doing surprisingly well. My house is built in 1947 so 70 years old, it's why I'd like to do as much as I can to prevent anything from happening.



Well I'm not really concerned with the money right now if it takes me 2 years to do the basement and I had some side projects along the way that's fine. I don't have any leaks, but if it rains heavily you can see dark spots in the corners. It doesn't accumulate enough to actually produce droplets though, however, it is enough to cause mold I'm sure? Either way, I know insulation will prevent the mold because it'll be sealed off from the damp. I'm parging the interior wall with waterproof parging and applying insulation on top which should kill 90% of the damp, but I figure if I have time this summer why not dig up and install rubber membrane as a +1 measure?



The house is 70 years old. It doesn't leak, or have running water anywhere, but it does show dark spots after heavy rain. Slope and grading is good, I think the main issue is how old the foundation is, when I dug up the 3 feet or so last year I saw spalling along the back wall, but only about 1/2 to an inch of material came off the rest is rock solid. I parged with below grade parging and recovered, but now I'm thinking why not dig to the footings and just install membrane since it's relatively cheap.



We did speak to the inspector and structural engineer when we bought the house. Everything is sound and structurally solid. However, I was thinking if I could get a relatively easy to use tool and add the membrane then why not, was my train of thought.



Right - so I don't have any water leaking issues, I do have dampness after heavy rain though, which does sometimes accumulate efflorescence. The insulation inside would be more than enough to prevent water from entering the insulation/framing, but I was thinking the +1 exterior would help more.
Your house is a similar age to mine, so I'm assuming you are a concrete block foundation? If so, I had posted a thread about my DIY exterior foundation waterproofing experience several years back.

*EDIT* Found the old thread, here are some of the details i posted and a photo:

OP - as you're going to try doing this yourself, I hope I can be of some help.

I recently waterproofed the front foundation of my house, and did the same thing to the back foundation last year. Our house is a 1940's bungalow with concrete block foundation. If you've got some general know-how, friends with shovels (and a case of beer), and a few spare weekends, it is certainly a job you can do yourself. You will save a bundle of money, as you're paying primarily for the labour when you hire a company. I'll run you through high level what we did for the front yard and will include some photos:

-Dug a few foot wide trench down to the footings (approx 5-6ft)
-Repaired joints or damaged blocks with mortar
-Covered foundation and footings in 2 coats of foundation tar, rather than BlueSkin (http://www.homedepot.ca/product/blac...coating/901724 EARN CASH BACK)
-Attached Delta foundation membrane (http://www.rona.ca/en/foundation-wat...ane-0382009--1) to foundation wall using a concrete nail gun (rented from HD)
-Graded the bottom of the trench from both corners of the foundation towards the centre, then put small base of 3/4 clear gravel
-Dug a drainage pit 6-7 feet out from the foundation, filled with 3/4 clear gravel
-Laid cloth-covered weeping tile beside footing, connecting to a "T" in the centre, which connected to weeping tile that went into the drainage pit
-9-12 inches or so of gravel into the trench, covering weeping tile
-Backfilled
-Terminated and sealed top of membrane above ground level

The hardest part of the job is the digging, which can be done with a few friends. The actual waterproofing took 2 guys (myself and my dad) about 2 weekends, and only cost us a few hundred dollars. I recently waterproofed the front foundation as we were doing some re-grading and landscaping of the front yard, and figured we might as well do it. I had these 2 photos on my phone but have others if you want to see more:

Image

Image

On top of waterproofing from the outside, I damp-proofed the interior basement foundation walls with King Brush 'n Seal - http://www.homedepot.ca/product/king-br ... -kg/902223
[OP]
Deal Addict
Jun 11, 2010
1326 posts
723 upvotes
ottawa
jacquesstrap wrote: Your house is a similar age to mine, so I'm assuming you are a concrete block foundation? If so, I had posted a thread about my DIY exterior foundation waterproofing experience several years back.

*EDIT* Found the old thread, here are some of the details i posted and a photo:

OP - as you're going to try doing this yourself, I hope I can be of some help.

I recently waterproofed the front foundation of my house, and did the same thing to the back foundation last year. Our house is a 1940's bungalow with concrete block foundation. If you've got some general know-how, friends with shovels (and a case of beer), and a few spare weekends, it is certainly a job you can do yourself. You will save a bundle of money, as you're paying primarily for the labour when you hire a company. I'll run you through high level what we did for the front yard and will include some photos:

-Dug a few foot wide trench down to the footings (approx 5-6ft)
-Repaired joints or damaged blocks with mortar
-Covered foundation and footings in 2 coats of foundation tar, rather than BlueSkin (http://www.homedepot.ca/product/blac...coating/901724 EARN CASH BACK)
-Attached Delta foundation membrane (http://www.rona.ca/en/foundation-wat...ane-0382009--1) to foundation wall using a concrete nail gun (rented from HD)
-Graded the bottom of the trench from both corners of the foundation towards the centre, then put small base of 3/4 clear gravel
-Dug a drainage pit 6-7 feet out from the foundation, filled with 3/4 clear gravel
-Laid cloth-covered weeping tile beside footing, connecting to a "T" in the centre, which connected to weeping tile that went into the drainage pit
-9-12 inches or so of gravel into the trench, covering weeping tile
-Backfilled
-Terminated and sealed top of membrane above ground level

The hardest part of the job is the digging, which can be done with a few friends. The actual waterproofing took 2 guys (myself and my dad) about 2 weekends, and only cost us a few hundred dollars. I recently waterproofed the front foundation as we were doing some re-grading and landscaping of the front yard, and figured we might as well do it. I had these 2 photos on my phone but have others if you want to see more:

Image

Image

On top of waterproofing from the outside, I damp-proofed the interior basement foundation walls with King Brush 'n Seal - http://www.homedepot.ca/product/king-br ... -kg/902223
This is exactly what I was looking for thank you very much. Did you pressure wash the concrete before applying mortar and tar? This is what I want to do this summer - will likely do one wall at a time, 3 walls are easy access, the fourth wall is a bit annoying as it has the driveway in the way unfortunately.

Edit: forgot to mention the foundation is actually a poured concrete foundation with rebar - is it still the same process you did for your block foundation?
Deal Addict
Nov 9, 2008
1601 posts
596 upvotes
Toronto
barqers wrote: This is exactly what I was looking for thank you very much. Did you pressure wash the concrete before applying mortar and tar? This is what I want to do this summer - will likely do one wall at a time, 3 walls are easy access, the fourth wall is a bit annoying as it has the driveway in the way unfortunately.

Edit: forgot to mention the foundation is actually a poured concrete foundation with rebar - is it still the same process you did for your block foundation?
For being 70 years old, the foundation was in pretty impressive shape. There were very few issues, and the original parging which was applied over the "majority" blocks was still rock solid. We spot-fixed some of the areas which required mortar/parging (again, very few). Then wire brushed the wall, left it for a day to dry out in the sun, then wire brushed it again to get any remaining sand off. I am in the West end of the Toronto and on sandy soil, so it was pretty clean.

I did the front and back myself using the process above. We paid a company to waterproof one side of our house (40 linear feet) as it had a "shared concrete walkway" (3-4 feet wide) between our house and our neighbour. Our neighbour also ended up having his foundation waterproofed at the same time, so it was worth it for the both of us. They used the same method, dug by hand, but used Bakor Aqua-Bloc, Yellow Jacket, and believe they applied a layer of 6mm vapour barrier before they applied the Delta membrane.

In hindsight, I would recommend using the Bakor Aqua-Bloc as it's a more elastomeric product and should last longer than the foundation tar.

We have one side of our house remaining to be waterproofed, but it is the driveway side and the driveway is only a few years old. We haven't had any signs of dampness, and also recently finished our basement using closed cell sprayfoam (2-3''), so that should help to keep any dampness out of the basement envelope.

I imagine the process for you would be the same.
Deal Addict
Jan 8, 2009
3997 posts
2426 upvotes
Ontario
barqers wrote: This is exactly what I was looking for thank you very much.
Be very careful with excavations. For health and safety reasons any steep sided excavations over chest height that you are going to get into must be shored (propped). Also if left unattended you need to fence off the area to prevent someone even a trespasser falling in and suing you for negligence.

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