Water, water everywhere
Julie Garton-Good, GRI, DREI

If you're like many homeowners, keeping water and moisture out of a crawl space (especially during certain times of the year) can be a problem. In fact, water buildup is the second most common problem for homeowners, second only to leaking roofs.

Besides proper grading around the house and drains to divert the water away from the foundation, what else can you do to keep your home dry? You could seal the foundation from the outside. While more expensive than applying coatings on the interior of the foundation, it provides a more long-term, permanent solution.

But not all coating systems are made equal. In fact, they are categorized by whether they provide "damp-proofing" or "water-proofing." Damp-proofing only resists the passage of water. Most homes, even new ones, receive only damp-proofing usually with an asphalt emulsion. Water-proofing, on the other hand, actually resists water flow under pressure (such as hydrostatic or ground water pressure, which can often be very forceful as well as damaging.) Materials used for water-proofing include cement coatings and polymer modified asphalts and are, of course, more expensive than those used for damp-proofing.

How do you know which material and application will best suit your foundation moisture problems? The answers lie in the severity of the problem, the depth of the water table as well as whether you're seeking a short- or long-term solution. Consult with several contractors before deciding on a remedy.