When waterproofing their basements, many homeowners in Washington, D.C., and Virginia tend to focus on three areas. These are their floors, windows, and walls. Sadly, they forget the basement stairs also need attention. Why? It’s an area that’s vulnerable to moisture and water damage.
Yes, moisture is a threat to your basement stairs. Rainwater and ground seepage are the major culprits. Deal with them before they hurt and compromise the structural integrity of your stairs. Here’s how you can seal and maintain this structure.
Waterproof the Basement First
Start by waterproofing your basement with effective solutions including interior drainage and a sump pump if you haven’t done so. Also, check for foundation cracks or openings around pipes that allow water to seep through and repair them. Pay attention to the floor and wall joints and seal all gaps between them as well. Install a dehumidifier to dry out the basement air, as excess moisture will cause wood rot and other problems.
Once you do this, do the following.
1. Control Roof Runoff
Eliminate all the water threats on the outside by cleaning and repairing your gutters. Ensure downspouts are all intact and extend at least four feet away from your home’s perimeter. Downspouts that discharge rainwater close to your home can introduce water into the basement. Also, the downspouts can be connected to underground pipes.
Re-grading the soil in your yard (so it slopes away) also prevents rainwater from collecting around the foundation walls. Trim all overgrown or bushy trees, as they can instigate leaks and impede water drainage.
2. Caulk Your Openings
Apply caulk to your doors, window, ducts, roof flashings, and other areas. It’s a simple and economical waterproofing measure. Seal cracks around pipe openings with a fast-drying sealant. Use a multipurpose, paintable and flexible caulk with fungicide. Once it cures, it will prohibit mold growth and build-up.
3. Seal Wood
Wood surfaces like the trim, sidings, and decks need to be sealed for water protection. You can apply wood sealer using a roller, sprayer, or brush. The best product is engineered to provide the benefits of both water-based and oil-based coatings. Such a hybrid sealant beads and waterproofs wood and allows it to weather to a natural gray. Make sure the wood on the stairs is free of soot, dust, dirt, grease, and mildew.
4. Install Graded Drain Pipe
Some homeowners worry about the possibility of water flowing right into their homes via hatchway entrances or through garage doors. When we are confronted by this problem, we do recommend our grated drain pipe system. It looks like a typical drainage pipe in the basement, but with a half-round pipe and a grated top fitting. Spanning the base of the bottom of the stairs, this pipe arrests any water that flows over the drains and channels it to your sump pump.
5. Seal the Concrete
You need to clean and degrease the area that needs to be sealed. These include concrete surfaces, stucco, stone, or brick stairs. A variety of masonry and concrete sealing products are available. Once the surface is clean, apply a concrete sealer. The best sealer is chip-resistant and prevents water damage, ensuring the concrete doesn’t crumble due to freeze-thaw cycles. If you have freshly poured concrete, wait for 30 days before you apply the concrete sealer.
6. Get a Stairwell Cover
If you have exterior stairs leading from the outside to the basement, these need some TLC as well. If your basement doesn’t have hatchway protection or canopy, you should look into having one installed. The cover will reduce the amount of rainwater that gets to the door. It’s also going to prevent the drain opening from blocking, ultimately improving the drain’s performance. Don’t let moisture or water damage your investment. Sealing and waterproofing your stairs is fairly easy, and it goes a long way toward protecting this important structure. Get in touch with the experts at JES Foundation Repair for a free basement waterproofing inspection and quote. We will assess your basement and other fixtures and let you know what you need to do to protect them from moisture or water.