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Installing a Drained Cavity System For Basement Waterproofing
Whether you are dealing with a new build or renovation project, commercial or residential, the drained cavity approach to basement waterproofing is extremely popular and has become a professional supplier’s and waterproofing contractor’s weapon of choice when protecting underground structures.
The cavity drain system is an internally applied basement waterproofing system which consists of a series of high density polyethylene membranes (recessed sheet profiles) which are mechanically attached to the basement walls, creating an air gap (usually 8mm) in the vertical plane. The air space created by the membrane ends at the wall/floor joint in a box channel channel, a Basedrain, which then directs any water entering the basement (usually into the wall/floor joint or joints in the concrete) to an open elevated or to a sump pump.) This basement waterproofing technique essentially creates a maintainable air gap in the basement, thereby moving water, which relieves pressure into the space before it damages interior fixtures.
The advantages of this approach is that you can use the system in all weather conditions, which can be a real problem when using external spray-applied or bonded membrane products, which have restrictions on when you can use them, i.e. the structure must be dry or the temperature is too low for a 100% bond to be achieved.
Other significant benefits are: minimal surface preparation – so no sandblasting or bushing, which is messy and can damage structures; the cavity drainage system is reversible so it can be used on listed and historic buildings (tanking cannot!); and most importantly, it is easy to maintain and repair if required. The same cannot be said for any form of external waterproofing, which once installed, if there is a problem, is very difficult to remedy; and in many cases failed exterior basement waterproofing is solved by retrofitting an internally drained cavity system.
When using the cavity drain system for your basement waterproofing project, the key is to remove water that enters the system. As described above, the wall drain, or Basedrain, is a highly effective way of achieving this. Basedrain should either discharge to an open area if you have one in your development (such as a property built into a hillside) where water removal can be achieved by gravity, or if this is not possible a sump and pump unit.
Sump and pump unit specifications for cavity drain systems should be carried out by a specialist waterproofing contractor as part of the whole basement waterproofing design and installation. In this way, the basement contractor can guarantee the installation and offer maintenance contracts with the pumps themselves. As people use their basement areas for living, the sump and pump systems can also be designed to accommodate sinks, condensate overflows, showers and even toilets. In many cases, the sump and pump can also be placed in the light well (if you have one) and can handle surface water drainage.
The key to using a cavity drain membrane system is undoubtedly the drainage aspect, as the system is not like a traditional tank system where you are looking to hold the water back. It’s more like a water management system, so the principle is to make your structure as waterproof as possible and still accept that it can leak. This is where the cavity drainage membrane “mops up” the intrusion and removes it.
If you use a sump and pump to remove water from the cavity drainage system, you also need to consider what will happen in the event of a power outage? Answer: Your pump is not working! So when you are getting advice on the right kind of pumping system for your basement waterproofing project, you need at least a battery backup system and two pumps. For minimal additional cost, you can get power outage protection. A tip when looking for such systems is to make sure the backup pump has the same duty and capacity as the primary pump, otherwise you’re just wasting your money. The recognition of cavity drainage systems is now undisputed as the most reliable and maintainable form of structural waterproofing and has been embraced by professional contractors and specifiers alike.
Even insurance companies now favor the use of cavity drain systems and offer longer protection periods compared to conventional refueling in the UK.
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