How to Waterproof a Cellar

Whether you’ve filled your cellar with expensive wine or a mountain of junk, you probably want to keep your possessions dry. Unfortunately, aging buildings sometimes settle, resulting in cracked foundations. When this happens, excess water finds its way inside the structure, flooding it. Follow these steps to keep your mood and your cellar from dampening during rainy seasons.

Waterproof a Cellar
  1. Install a sump pump. If the water level is low, a sump pump might be the perfect solution. Use a level to find the lowest point in your cellar, and then dig a hole where the water is deepest. Usually, this will be in a corner or against a wall. Place your pump inside the hole and run a hose or pipe up from the pump and outside your home. After that, it’s simply a matter of plugging the pump in and watching it evacuate the water.
  2. Channel water away from your exterior walls. Build up your landscaping by dumping several loads of topsoil around the perimeter of your structure. Once the soil is in place, shape it to form a gradual slope away from your building’s outer walls, and then add sod or straw so your labor doesn’t erode during a storm. If you have clean gutters, this extra measure will keep a significant amount of water from seeping into the ground and penetrating the walls below ground level.
  3. Apply waterproofing paint. Several companies manufacture paint designed specifically to stop water from leaking through basement walls. If you still have a problem after reworking your landscaping, consider coating your cellar walls with this specialized paint. Some brands have added features, such as lifetime waterproof guarantees, mold and mildew resistance, wet/dry application and low odor formulas. Bear in mind that extra features cost extra dollars.
  4. Use professional-strength materials. If the previous measures don’t work, your best bet might be to call a cellar specialist and have him complete the project for you. Experts can pinpoint problem areas and provide cost-effective solutions. However, if you’re determined to fix the problem yourself, buy a truckload of Oldroyd Xv Clear, a cavity drainage membrane manufactured from polypropylene, and then coat each damp wall with these waterproof panels so groundwater can drain past them. You’ll also want to install a series of drainage channels at the floor-wall junctions, which lead to the sump pump. Cellars that are subject to serious flooding should have their floors coated with the Oldroyd Xv membrane as well. After you complete their installation, cover your floor with floating timber and your walls with plasterboard.
  5. Practice some form of humidity control. Even though you may have stopped a dozen tiny rivers from flowing across your cellar floor, this doesn’t mean the area is dry. Some of the moisture draining beneath the floor and behind the walls will evaporate into the air, leaving behind a damp, musty smell and an environment conducive for mold and mildew growth. One effective way to deal with humid cellars is to install a humidity-controlled fan that offers adequate ventilation. Another popular method is using a dehumidifier, which pulls the moisture from the air and collects it in a reservoir that can be taken outside and emptied or drained into your sump pump.

Things You Will Need

  • Sump pump
  • Landscaping materials
  • Waterproofing paint
  • Cavity drainage membranes
  • Dehumidifiers

About the Author

David Kingsbury holds degrees in psychology and theology from Campbellsville University. He has published two university-level pieces and numerous freelance articles on culture and society, entertainment, and travel. His portfolio includes clips from "Polymancer" magazine and various online health and fitness sites, where he offers his services as a mental health writer.

Photo Credits

  • Photo courtesy of Morguefile.com