Waterproof Your Home DIY Tips

With all of the news about flooding recently and all the flood events we have experienced here in The USA over the past years, we wanted to provide our website users with some actionable tips on how to waterproof your home to guard against one of nature’s most damaging forces when it comes to our homes.

Damp and water damage can take a serious toll on your home and lead to major repair bills. Unlike fire, which is a rare, cataclysmic event that you’ll definitely notice, water damage can build up over time, even years, until a problem that you could fix in an afternoon becomes a major disaster that will require hiring contractors and spending thousands of dollars.

Fortunately, there are some easy fixes that you can carry out yourself or with a short visit from a contractor. These won’t only prevent possible water damage, but will even add to the value of your home.

Rain gutter repairs

Nobody likes to clean or repair gutters. However, there are a few ways to make the job easier. First, for clogged downspouts, try using barbecue tongs to reach in and pull the leaves out. This doesn’t always work but considering the alternative — using a hose to flush the clog out, getting wet and covered with gutter goop — it’s worth a try.

Second, to repair loose gutter nails try replacing them with extra-long lag screws. The lag screws tend to be stronger, hold better and can easily be installed with a cordless drill equipped with a nut driver bit.

Repairing cracks in concrete

Concrete always cracks, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with it that way. For most cracks less than 1/4″, applying concrete caulk is a good way to make repairs. Just clean the crack out with a high-pressure hose nozzle, let it dry and then apply the caulk into the crack.

For larger cracks, substitute concrete patch for caulk. Large cracks or small, repair is necessary because water that finds its way into cracks will soften the ground underneath and cause more cracking. The situation worsens if the water freezes.

Painting over water damage

The problem with water stains is that painting over them will not make them go away unless you use a primer-sealer first. When looking for a sealer, follow these basic guidelines: First, oil-based sealers usually work better than water-based. Second, choose a sealer that has a high amount of solids. Solids consist of pigments and other elements that do the actual covering of the stain. Paint, hardware and home centers carry primer-sealers (sometimes called sealer-primers) such as Kilz and Zinsser.

One other tip when using an oil-based sealer, consider using disposable brushes and rollers. Cleaning up after using oil-based products can be messy and often requires that you spend more on paint thinner than your brushes and rollers are worth.

Roof

This is your first line of protection against water damage, and unless you want to break out pots and pans to collect drips from the ceiling you’ll need to get it perfect. Make sure that chimneys, skylights and plumbing vents are properly sealed- and keep making sure, as they can crack over time. You’ll also need to check that shingles haven’t cracked and that your seals are sealed. In winter you should make sure that ice dams aren’t forming on your roof- these are walls of ice and snow that collect at the edge of the surface of your roof which prevent snow from running off, trapping water and causing costly damage.

Sticky windows and doors

With all the wet weather that spring brings, wooden windows and doors can’t help but swell and stick. To repair a sticky door or window, first mark where it is sticking. Next, remove the door or window by taking out its hinge pins, prop it up securely and with a hand plane, carefully remove any excess material. Power planes will work, too, but there is a tendency to remove too much. When the wood shrinks back during the drier, warmer days of summer, the gap will be too wide.

For sliding windows, often the trim around them is the culprit and must be removed and reinstalled to allow for more movement. To do this, carefully remove the trim with a flat bar and pull the nails out backwards that is, grasp the nail point with pliers and pull. If the trim was installed properly with finishing nails, you should be able to do this without damaging the wood. When reinstalling, keep the fit snug but not as tight as it was. If you reinstall the trim too loosely, the windows will rattle when the wood shrinks again.

To keep windows and doors from sticking in the first place, make sure that they are sealed with a good coat of paint, including the tops and bottoms. But dont paint the channels where windows need to slide. Instead, use a light coat of linseed oil as a sealer.

Wooden door and window frames can swell in wet weather, and improperly installed windows and doors can let in moisture. Sealing them can be as simple as applying silicone, or could involve getting new doors and windows. Modernizing these won’t just improve waterproofing, but improve your home’s aesthetics and energy efficiency.

Remove or cover your air conditioner

Unless you live in the desert or the deep South, you probably don’t run your air conditioner during autumn. But you might be letting your system waste away if you leave it sitting out in the elements all fall and winter long, which can damage the fan and coils.

Painting and repairing rusty fixtures

It used to be that the only way to do a good paint job over rust was to get out the naval jelly or wire brush and remove the rust first. Thankfully, paint additives are now available to help paint stick to rust while also neutralizing the rust and stopping corrosion from continuing under the paint.

If left untreated, rust will eventually cause your fixtures to lock up. Prevent this by keeping fixtures well lubricated. One of the most common mistakes people make is trying to lubricate outdoor fixtures with light oil or silicon from spray cans. Because these oils are so light, they often evaporate and/or dilute existing lubrication thereby making the problem worse. For fixtures like gate hinges and latches, use heavy grease. It will not evaporate and its heavy viscosity is the best thing for heavy-duty parts. Most auto parts stores have heavy grease.

Pipes

Shut off all faucets and valves, and drain any outdoor piping, like sprinkler systems, before the temperature drops.

Basement Find Out What’s Causing the Moisture

Tape a 1-foot-square piece of aluminum foil to the inside of your basement walls, and leave it in place for 24 hours.

If there’s condensation on the outside of the foil, you have high humidity in your basement. Fix it with a portable room dehumidifier or a whole-house humidifier system instead of waterproofing products.

If the foil has condensation on the inside surface (next to the wall), it may be the soil around your house is naturally damp from a high water table or poor soil drainage. In that case, waterproofing your basement walls can be useful.

You can waterproof just your interior walls, which may solve the problem. Or you can waterproof your exterior walls, which is a better bet — but more costly.

Fixing it:

Concrete waterproofing coatings: These thick coatings are cement-like; once dry, they adhere permanently to concrete and masonry walls. You apply the coating with a heavy brush made with tampico bristles — a natural fiber. Swirl the brush at the final stage of application to give the wall an attractive, finished look.

Silicate-based concrete sealers, also known as densifiers, are also suitable only for walls that haven’t been painted or sealed. The sealers soak in and chemically react with ingredients in the concrete or brick, forming a hard, waterproof surface.

Because these are penetrating sealers, they can’t flake off or peel, and you can paint over them (but check the label first). Applying a silicate-based sealer with a brush, roller, or sprayer is easy enough for a DIY project

Waterproofing paint is an acrylic formula, not all that different from ordinary wall paint. But you brush, roll, or spray it on much more thickly — one gallon covers just 75 square feet, not the 300 square feet typical with standard paint.

Waterproof paint is fine for DIY application. You can apply it over painted surfaces, and paint over it once it’s cured

TIP: None of these products will work unless cracks and gaps are properly sealed. So make sure you fill cracks and gaps less than 1/8-inch wide with polyurethane caulk made for masonry

Exterior Waterproofing, Expensive

The surest way to waterproof your basement walls is a full-scale exterior waterproofing solution. It’s also the most expensive — often $15,000 to $30,000.

Exterior waterproofing involves excavating all around the house to the full depth of the foundation walls, then installing a waterproof coating or membrane topped by drainage panels. The panels provide an easy path for water to flow down to an exterior French drain at the bottom of your foundation. From there, water flows by gravity — or with the aid of a sump pump — away from your foundation to another part of your property, or into a storm drain.

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