FSM Service Tech

Preparing to finish your basement? READ THIS!

Finishing your basement has become a common home improvement and a great way to increase the living space in your home. 


Finishing your basement has become a common home improvement and a great way to increase the living space in your home.  However, a main concern before finishing your basement is making sure it stays dry before you make the investment.

To prepare your basement for finishing, Foundation Systems of Michigan offers the following checklist to properly prepare your basement for finishing:

  • Inspect your foundation, and make sure you have an effective waterproofing system:  Carefully inspect your foundation.  If there are any existing cracks, signs of water seepage, or walls bowing, call a professional for an expert inspection.  If your basement isn’t currently leaky, but has leaked just a little in the past, a quality waterproofing system should be installed.  We’ve seen thousands of finished basements experiencing water seepage.  Even just dampness can cause mold and mildew on the studs and drywall used to finish the basement.  Remember, water problems never get better, they only get worse as the house ages.
  • A quality sump pump (including a back-up):  If you are finishing your basement it is critical that you have a quality sump pump to guard your basement against flooding.  And to ensure a dry basement all the time, even during a power outage, we recommend a battery back-up.  This back-up can also assist if your primary pump fails.  Without a back-up, your basement is just one pump or power failure away from a flood. 
  • Guard against floods from a frozen sump discharge line:  In Michigan, our winters are cold !  And if you have a sump pump, it probably discharges outside, where the cold temperatures can cause snow and ice to block the opening and cause it to freeze.  Make sure that the discharge line is free and clear of debris, snow, and ice during the cold winter months.  You can also ask us about our patented IceGuard System, which will automatically allow water to escape, even when the line is frozen.
  • Install a Vapor Barrier on the walls:  Water vapor can pass thru basement walls and cause a high humidity level in the basement.  Without a vapor barrier, this will cause your finishing materials to be damp and cause mold damage.  Installing a high quality vapor barrier will help keep your studs and drywall dry. It will also help to keep the basement at a lower humidity level. 
  • Protect against common plumbing leaks:  The two most common water leaks we see are leaking water heaters and washing machine hoses.  Water heaters will fail with old age, and they usually leak and flood the basement.  Installing a ring around the base of the water heater, such as our FloodRing, will contain seepage and drain it to the waterproofing system. Washing Machine hoses are another item which commonly contribute to basement floods.  If the washing machine hoses are not made to withstand 50 or 60 pounds-per-square-inch of water pressure, they can blow out and have a very damaging effect on your finished basement.
  • Inspect your basement windows:  Are your basement windows drafty, rusty, or rotting?  Now is the time to replace them.  Do you have an egress window?  Egress Windows can cause water to enter your basement if they were not properly installed.  Window wells also collect snow and water, and often contribute to dampness in basements. The base of a window well should consist of 6–8 inches of free-draining material, such as crushed stone; and it is important to not allow leaves, sticks or trash to accumulate in the window well. 
  • Dehumidify:  Humidity in the basement is a bad thing…especially if it’s finished. Moisture problems can ruin even the most expensive finished basement.    Excessive humidity and insufficient air movement cause two common problems..…mold growth and stinky air.  It is important to keep humidity levels at an acceptable range to prevent these problems. 
  • Exterior Maintenance:  Make sure your down spouts are extended far enough away from the home to prevent roof water from collecting at the foundation.  Also, keep the soil around the foundation graded away from the house, and keep the gutters clean.

Foundation Systems of Michigan can help you with any of the above concerns.  Our experts can offer you a solution to help make sure your basement stays dryall the time, especially after you make the significant investment finishing it.

We have helped many homeowners throughout Michigan, including Ann Arbor, Warren, Traverse City, Saginaw, Midland, Madison Heights, Clio, Gaylord, Adrian, Mt. Pleasant, Lexington, Bay City, Midland, St. Clair Shores, and many cities nearby.  We look forward to hearing from you!

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