A Daunting Project: Fixing Evidence of Basement Water Damage

The Burrow was built in 1929, so it has a semi-creepy, slightly damp 1929 basement. Over the years, I can tell that various homeowners have done different things to prevent water from getting inside and they have done a pretty good job! They just didn’t get rid of the evidence of previous water… One major thing a homeowner did was pour slanted concrete slabs on the driveway-side of the house to keep water away from the foundation. EXCELLENT. There is also foam and caulk around windows, and other stuff like that.

A major thing I had to do when I bought the house was repair the front corner foundation of the screened in porch. Water had been pooling there for…who knows how long, and it had been slowly seeping in through the concrete block. Now, it wasn’t flooding my basement, but there was always a wet spot in that corner after it rained. And heaven forbid I did laundry or shower on a rainy day. So, I bit the bullet and got a company out here to fix it. And after some back and forth, I’m pleased to say, after a few good rainstorms, the floor in that corner has been dry! So… YAY dryness! But the walls just looked… scary. And creepy. And terrible. I wanted to fix that.

I was extremely nervous to get this project started because I was A. Doing it by myself, and B. I didn’t know entirely what would happen once I began. So, where does a nervous homeowner start? Research! I poured over various DIY sites and forums, le Pinterest articles and countless other blogs… SO MANY that I can’t even remember their names and I finally came up with this plan:

  1. Scrape/Wire Brush
  2. Patch
  3. Drylok

So that is what I did. Now, FIRST make sure that the spots on your walls aren’t mold. I’m pleased to say that the spots on my walls were all staining. So if the following photos freak you out – don’t worry! It is ALL water stains! SECOND get a mask! As you wire brush your walls there will be dust galore, and you don’t want that in your lovely lungs. THIRD give yourself a pep talk. Seriously. Pump yourself up.

I started with the worst wall. The wall along the side where the previous homeowner poured the slanted concrete. I am so glad they did that, because the water damage along this wall had obviously begun to seriously concern them. They just didn’t remedy the walls once they solved the problem from outside.

Life in the Burrow - Fixing Evidence of Basement Water Damage

Now, this photo is post-scraping and patching. I used all Drylok products because my research showed that they would be the most reliable. I thought about using Killz, but ended up choosing Drylok based on my gut after reading a lot of material. Doesn’t that look gross? I used the patching caulk and the patching cement. The caulk is a lot easier as it just comes in a caulk tube, but you have to mix and prepare the cement. I made sure to use the cement for the bigger holes and spaces where the concrete block and fallen off during wire brushing. It was a tedious process. We had a snow day, so I got busy.

Here are some other photos of that length of wall: (CREEPTASTIC)

Life in the Burrow - Fixing Evidence of Basement Water Damage

Life in the Burrow - Fixing Evidence of Basement Water Damage

I purchased all of the Drylok stuff from Lowe’s and it took nearly an entire 5 gallon tub of the actual Drylok paint to do my whole basement, so keep that in mind… and the Burrow isn’t a big house. Once I let everything cure (which, let’s be real- I’m a teacher, was like a week or so…), I got to painting. Now, I used an actual masonry brush – which I highly advise using because this paint is THICK. It also splatters something fierce even if you paint slowly and carefully. So, wear clothes you really don’t care about and be prepared to get it in your hair and on your face and on your arms… basically everywhere.

But… Just look at the difference it made! Here are the same sections of wall:

Life in the Burrow - Fixing Evidence of Basement Water Damage

Life in the Burrow - Fixing Evidence of Basement Water Damage

You can still kind of see the dark grey patching cement I had to use, so I’ll probably run a second coat over those areas, but compared to the before photos… It is FAR less creepy looking… And that was my main goal.

Life in the Burrow - Fixing Evidence of Basement Water Damage

It’ll never be perfect because it is an old basement, and I never intend to finish it like the new modern basements, but it is going to make a pretty awesome nerd cave eventually!

Now I’m just going to show you the before and after photos of the other sections of the basement! This Drylok stuff is pretty cool.

This wall was one of the better ones. It will be the wall that will eventually hold an awesome shelving unit and console!

Life in the Burrow - Fixing Evidence of Basement Water Damage

Life in the Burrow - Fixing Evidence of Basement Water Damage

This wall was also one of the best out of the bunch, it really didn’t need the Drylok treatment, but I figured that I had a 5 gallon bucket… I might as well use it!

Life in the Burrow - Fixing Evidence of Basement Water Damage

Life in the Burrow - Fixing Evidence of Basement Water Damage

This corner is where I had the foundation repaired. You can see all the mortar joins where the water had slowly been seeping in. It just looked so gross, but I am pleased to say it has been dry for months! So now I want it to look pretty!

Life in the Burrow - Fixing Evidence of Basement Water Damage

Life in the Burrow - Fixing Evidence of Basement Water Damage

These next photos are of what will become my workshop. This was another pretty terrible section of wall that was saved by the new concrete outside.

Life in the Burrow - Fixing Evidence of Basement Water Damage

Life in the Burrow - Fixing Evidence of Basement Water Damage

Life in the Burrow - Fixing Evidence of Basement Water Damage

Life in the Burrow - Fixing Evidence of Basement Water Damage

All in all, this project scared me. I didn’t know if I was starting something that would be too big to finish on my own, but it turned out okay! I feel like the basement looks much prettier and cleaner… and FAR less creepy!! I’ll be painting the wooden aspects of the basement a normal fresh coat of white another time… I need a break from painting!

As a bonus, here is a before and after of my work bench! It is also a work in progress!

Life in the Burrow - Fixing Evidence of Basement Water Damage

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