Buttoned-up Basements

Buttoned-up Basements

A well-waterproofed and insulated basement offers a plethora of benefits, including improved IAQ, occupant health and lower HVAC bills.
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With no filters to change and no water reservoir to empty, EZ Breathe's ventilation system operates by air exchange, exhausting stale air, along with contaminants and moisture, and circulating fresh air throughout the house.

Green Builder Media

Friday, August 21, 2015 - 6:45am

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While your clients may wish to finish their basements so they can squeeze an extra room or two out of their houses, a properly sealed and insulated basement is more than a nice amenity. In fact, finishing these spaces can support better air quality and lower HVAC costs. - 

“As much as 80 percent of the cost of air conditioning is dehumidification, so buildings with uncontrolled water intrusion, whether in liquid or vapor form, place an additional load upon the HVAC system,” explains Tim Chapin, HHS, CRMI, air quality expert at EZ Breathe in Macedonia, Ohio.

But perhaps more compelling is the fact that homeowners can be free of concerns about mold and mildew compromising their home’s structural integrity and occupant health.

“Basement waterproofing is critical, because the foundation holds up the house,” states Peter Barrett, product manager of Cosella-Dörken Products in Beamsville, Ontario. “Once water is in the interior, it can begin to rot stud walls or build up behind vapor barriers. This can create mold which leads to smells, structural decay and adverse health affects.”

In fact, a number of studies, including one conducted by the Institute of Medicine, have directly linked exposure to damp indoor environments to upper respiratory tract symptoms, coughing, wheezing and asthma flare-ups amongst people with asthma.


Once builders have decided to invest the time and resources, the most cost-effective way to deliver a high-quality waterproofing system is during initial construction, recommends Barrett. “If done properly, a homeowner will never have to think about it again.”

A good quality waterproofing system requires both a water barrier and drainage plane to direct water away from the basement’s building enclosure. For example, a highly impermeable membrane like Mar-flex Waterproofing & Building’s Mar-flex 5000, Tremco’s TUFF-N-DRI or Cosella-Dörken’s DELTA system should be applied as the first line of defense.

Next, the drainage board both protects the coating and helps channel the water away from the foundation. Mar-flex offers the ShockWave board, which can also boost insulation, and the “C” Drain drainage tile, which is installed along the footer/foundation walls to send water into the sump/drainage system.

“A proper drainage plane should always be on the exterior of the foundation and be the outermost layer of the foundation protection system,” explains Barrett.

Along these lines, Cosella-Dörken offers a couple of solutions. One is the DELTA-MS, an air-gap membrane that offers both damp-proofing and drainage and is installed on the concrete or block foundation. The other is the DELTA-DRAIN, which is a drainage board placed on top of the waterproofing to both protect the waterproofing and act as a drainage composite providing relief from hydrostatic head—defined as pressure created by water build-up.