When a property is under construction, you need some way of keeping the water out of the building. With structures that are earth retaining (in direct contact with ground), there is always the risk that moisture can penetrate and cause damage to your building. In particular, this applies to new build cellars, basements and any below ground structures. The rise of local water tables means that there is now increased hydrostatic pressure being exerted on earth retaining walls - external waterproofing should always be considered as it is the first line of resistance. 

external waterproofing during construction

When you are working on a basement, if possible you should use an external waterproofing system to reduce, if not block the passage of water through your external earth retaining walls. External waterproofing systems use moisture impervious coatings/ membranes to block and divert the hydrostatic pressure that can bare against a structure reducing the risk of water ingress and any failure of any internal waterproofing systems. This means that the overall risk of any water ingress into the basement or cellar is greatly reduced.

We would always suggest when using an external (also known as Type A) waterproofing system that this is used with either an internal cavity drain membrane (Type C) or an integral waterproof structure (Type B).

We have covered the internal waterproofing of basements extensively, now we look at the external waterproofing of cellars and basements. In this guide, we take you through the external waterproofing methods and how they work. 

Waterproofing New-build Basements and Cellars

 

Why Do I Need External Waterproofing?

The ultimate goal is a dry internal environment in your basement or cellar. Any walls in direct contact with earth may be subjected to hydrostatic water pressure and need to effectively deal with this to stop water entering the structure.

 waterproofing basement structure

You can tank the basement structure using a conventional barrier tanking, however, if this is subjected to sufficient hydrostatic pressure then any slight defect will be exploited. Also, barrier tanking is generally non-maintainable which also increases the risk of failure over time. A complete external waterproofing system including an internal cavity membrane is the best option for mitigating risk. 

Environment

It is important to consider your environment when installing a new-build basement. This will require a professional who can analyse the soil type, ground drainage, the presence of any potential contaminants (PermaSEAL Geodrain cavity drain membrane is resistant to all chemicals normally found in the ground), and the height of the water table all with consideration of the intended use of your basement.

External Waterproofing Systems

With external waterproofing systems, it is recommended to combine a primary and secondary waterproofing system along with a priming stage.

Priming

The first step in external waterproofing in most cases is priming. Priming involves applying a specially-designed spray to the external structure, which forces the masonry pores to narrow, creating a water-repellent surface. They are also designed to chemically bond with the waterproof coating used in the primary waterproofing stage.

Primary Waterproofing 

Primary waterproofing involves applying a waterproof material directly to the external wall. You should waterproof the substrate with a waterproofing compound such as Multi Tight or Profi Tight. These specially-designed coatings have a high compression strength and are water tight even under aggressive pressure.  

cavity membrane external waterproof system 

Secondary Waterproofing – Cavity Membranes 

You should install an external cavity membrane, which works as a drainage system that quickly removes any water and external cavity membranealleviates any hydrostatic pressure against the building. As well as this, the membrane provides a protective layer for the primary waterproofing, especially during the backfilling process. It also acts as a slip membrane as the backfill settles.

These membranes are created with numerous studs (like an egg box), which create a cavity. Any water is then able to drain freely down the cavity to a land drain (more information on drains can be found below) which channels the water to a suitable evacuation point like a sump chamber with pump, mains drain or a soak away point. The water also passes through a filter (fabric or internal polypropylene layer, often referred to as Geotex) in the membrane, which prevents fine particles from entering the drainage system and causing problems. 

By employing the above external waterproofing system, you have both a primary and secondary waterproofing barrier. By using these methods together you greatly minimise the risk of defects.

Both methods are also highly flexible, which means that you can be sure that as the building settles or if it moves in the future that the external masonry waterproofing will move with it and remain watertight.

installation of external cavity wall membrane

Drainage

In this section we will look at the drainage options in a bit more detail. With your external waterproofing system, you will need to provide a drainage system to remove water to a sump chamber or soak away point.

Land Drains and French Drains

In order to further protect your basement from water ingress, you should install a land drain, sometimes referred to as a French drain. These are laid around the perimeter of the basement at slab level.

In essence, you have a trench around the perimeter, which contains a perforated pipe covered with gravel or crushed stone. Water that hits the external surface, runs down the membrane then passes through the gravel and is then safely removed to a sump chamber, mains drain or soak away. These land drains should be wrapped in a geotextile membrane to stop fine sediments and debris from blocking the pipe. Access points and jetting points should also be included for annual maintenance.

land drains

Sump and Pumpsump and pump piping

The Sump and Dual Pump system is designed to remove ground water from cavity drain membrane systems as detailed above. They usually combine a sump chamber and a pump, often two pumps in case one of them should fail. Systems should also include a shut-off valve so that you can service the pumps and a battery-back up should electrics fail.

You can purchase our PermaSEAL Basement Sump and Pump System which has all you need or read more about how the system works.

 

How to Install An External Waterproofing System

The following three stages should be followed when installing a PermaSEAL  external waterproofing system:

Priming:

1. Spray Kiesol silification spray across the substrate (external wall)

Primary waterproofing:

2. Apply two coats of an external water proofing coating such as Multi Tight with a brush or trowel method.

Secondary waterproofing:

3. Cover the surface with Geodrain cavity drainage membrane.

4. Cap off the open top edge of the membrane using Geodrain Capping Strips

capping strips for waterproofing

Products

Multi Tight

Multi Tight is made of a solvent-free, polymer modified mineral waterproofing grout and a bituminous thick coating that is used to flexibly waterproof structures. The flexibility is key as it means that it is able to cope with expansion as well as bridge cracks that may emerge. Multi Tight is able to form a strong adhesion to all mineral substrates as well as existing bitumen-based substrates. It remains water pressure tight even with a negative water load meaning that you can be confident in

PermaSEAL 8 GeoDrain

PermaSEAL 8 Geodrain cavity drainage membrane, this product allows water to freely drain through the filter fabric into the cavity.

Permagard 28 Years of Basement Waterproofing Experience

If you have any questions in relation to external waterproofing or basement waterproofing in general then get in touch. One of our technical advisors will be more than happy to discuss your situation or provide a quote on 0117 982 3282.

Further Reading

Internal Waterproofing

Basement Waterproofing

Complete Guide to Basement Conversions

Complying with BS8102 Basement Building Regulations