Dry Basements

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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In order to build truly dry basements, builders must create a thermal envelope around the entire house that is as tightly sealed as possible. This is because there are a number of ways that water can enter a basement, including ways that water can enter a home above grade and travel down into the basement. Careful planning and materials choices must be made to create as watertight of a foundation as possible.

Some Techniques That Help Create Dry Basements

To protect against mold, and eventually, the danger of rotting, dry basements often incorporate modern materials and construction techniques. One of the most successful waterproof materials for basement walls is insulated concrete, which is usually made with ICFs (insulated concrete forms). ICFs are thick sheets of Styrofoam that form an insulating layer on either side of the concrete that seals out moisture and other potentially harmful substances.

Some homes are built with ICFs from the foundation all the way to the rafters. Because the walls are seamless, ICFs create an amazingly tight thermal envelope around the entire house. Combined with appropriate weather stripping along the windows and doors, ICFs make one of the most airtight building systems.

Weather stripping and vapor retarders are two techniques that homeowners can use to make dry basements, regardless of construction techniques. By using vapor retarders, homeowners can minimize the amount of water condensation in wall cavities, attics, and basements. Air-sealing with stripping helps keep water out of the walls as well as improve the energy efficiency of the house.

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