I have a late 70's split-entry, so my basement foundation wall is roughly 4 feet under the ground. The basement is finished with wood framing, spray foam insulation, and sheetock. Recent heavy rains have caused me to get water in one room at the end of the house - this is the gable end, so gutters are not the answer. I had a foundation repair "expert" take a look, and all he could say is that water must be sitting against the foundation, and finding a way in somehow, but with the interior walls finished, it's impossible to say exactly where the water is coming in. It seems to be traveling along the bottom plate and leaking through where one 2x4 meets another. He suggested digging to the footings, cleaning the block wall, priming it, then attaching a rubber membrane, then platen on top of that. Is this the best option for exterior waterproofing?

The water issue has only happened twice, each time when we had considerable rain, so I don't need to fix it tomorrow, but I definitely want to fix it within the next few months. I am looking for a permanent (and preferably diy) solution. It seems that every article I read about similar water problems, the author has a different opinion about cause and solution.

I also considered an exterior drain tile, I think this may also be called a French drain. My lot does not have the necessary slope to easily get rid of any water an exterior drain system might collect, but there could be other options. I don't know anything about these kinds of drain systems, so I'm open to suggestions and recommendations.

More details following the answer by DA01 - Thanks

I have gutter extensions that are about 4' long, which I believe are sufficient. As for the grade, this is something that can be improved. I would estimate the current grade to be about 2-3 inches of slope over a 4' span (this slopes away from the house), but I'm hoping to bring in dirt and increase the slope a few more inches.

It would be great if all I had to do to eliminate the water problem is improve the slope of the grade. But on the other hand, while I'm going through the trouble of hauling in dirt and re-seeding, does it make sense to just do it right and waterproof the foundation at the same time? This obviously adds a great deal of expense, however. Also, would waterproofing the foundation alone be enough? Or do I also have to add a drainage system at the same time?

Thank you in advance.

1 Answer 1


Before going through the waterproofing hassle, do check your gutters again. Even though it's the gable end, you want to make sure your downspouts elsewhere are carrying the water away from the foundation as far as they can.

Then, check the slope of the ground. Is it sufficiently sloping AWAY from the foundation? If not, fix that too.

After that, if you still have issues, if you're going to be digging out the foundation, you definitely want to consider a drain tile system while you're down there. That typically has to go near the footer, so be careful doing that (you'll likely want to consult an expert before digging out the footer.)

At that point, the typical waterproofing system is some form of a rubber membrane then covered with dimple-board. The dimple board protects the membrane from the backfill and also acts as a drainage plane into the drain tile system.

  • 1
    A French Drain might be worth a try. If you're only seeing water on rare occasions; and only during heavy rains, a french drain might move enough water away from the foundation to alleviate the problem. It's probably worth a try, before taking on the large expense of digging out and waterproofing the foundation.
    – Tester101
    Jun 29, 2012 at 12:03
  • Thank you for your comment. I'm wondering, if a french drain requires digging to the foundation, and is a considerable expense itself, why not just waterproof the foundation at the same time since everything is already dug up?
    – Cameron
    Jun 29, 2012 at 13:14
  • @cameron a french drain is a surface drain. I think it's a good suggestion. In fact, you could just start with the trench. If that works, then take the time to turn it into a full french drain.
    – DA01
    Jun 29, 2012 at 14:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.