Below is a list of terms commonly used in basement waterproofing, foundation repair and basement finishing.
You can browse through the basement terminology below or type the specific word you are looking for in the above search box. If you have any questions on basements, please call us at 1-866-7-NOW DRY.
Soil pH is a measurement the alkalinity or acidity of soil. pH is measured on a scale of 1-14, with 7 as the neutral mark, anything below 7 considered acidic and anything above 7 considered alkaline.
Refers to the attraction between two molecules, each having regions of low level positive and negative charge.
A dimpled membrane, typically manufactured using a high density
polyethylene, impermeable to water and water vapor, that creates an air gap
between the membrane and a foundation wall. Water between the air-gap
membrane and the foundation wall flows freely towards the weeping tile. It
also provides a capillary break between the foundation wall and the saturated
soil surrounding it.
The replacement of excavated earth into a trench around or against a
basement or crawlspace foundation wall.
The 4 or 5 inch layer of concrete that forms the basement floor.
The Basement Tuxedo® Finishing System is the most efficient and advanced
finishing system on the market today.
Mold Exposure - Black Mold - Toxic Mold - People are exposed to mold
through the air they breathe, contact with skin, and ingestion. Molds need
moisture, a food source, time, and to be left undisturbed. Any source of
moisture within an indoor environment can be a possible contributor to a mold
problem and poor indoor air quality. It has been stated simply that the best
mold control, is moisture control. Many molds given the right conditions have
the potential to cause ill health effects in susceptible individuals.
When outside pressure exceeds the design capacity of a wall resulting in a
bow or curve.
A reinforced polymer that is characteristically very strong, light and a
composite material known for its high strength to weight ratio. Carbon Fiber
will not stretch or bend over time making it perfect for reinforcing concrete
Carbon Staples can be used as a crack control stitching system designed to
transfer load away from repair materials.
This carbon fiber product has a Kevlar weave that produces some horizontal
strength. A necktie is attached to the sill plate, which can disperse the outside
Carbon fiber plates that are pre-pregnated with an epoxy resin. The plates do
not secure to the sill plate or floor where the major problem areas occur.
A barrier that prevents the flow of moisture through the small interconnected
pores in concrete due to adhesion and surface tension. Also referred to as
To install or apply a sealant across or into joints, cracks, or crevices to
prevent the passage of air or water.
A pre-fabricated structural component constructed of concrete and cinders
that is utilized to construct foundation walls, retaining walls, etc.
Backfill soil that’s been removed as the foundation is dug is looser, more
porous and much more absorbent of water than the unexcavated soil around
it. As the soil around the house settles, it begins to dip lower than the
unexcavated soil. As the water runs downhill into this depression, it pools
and absorbs into the dirt around the foundation. In areas where the soil
contains clay, this is called the “Clay Bowl” effect which allows water to seep
anywhere it can go resulting in pressure on basement walls. This pressure
can create cracks that can allow water to come through.
Soil, which is composed of very fine particles, usually silicates of aluminum
and/or iron and magnesium. Clay soil impedes the flow of water, meaning it
absorbs water slowly and then retains it for a long time. Wet clay soil is heavy
and sticky, and tends to swell from the added moisture. When dry, clay soil
shrinks and settles. The top layer can bake into a hard, concrete-like crust,
The replacement of excavated earth containing clay around a basement
foundation wall. Clay backfill can result in poor surface and subsurface
drainage leading to water ponding around the house, leakage of ground
water through the basement or crawlspace walls, and structural damage
to the foundation.
An unplanned joint or discontinuity in poured concrete structures resulting
from a delay in placement of sufficient time to preclude a chemical union of
the material in two successive pours.
Large, rectangular blocks used in construction usually made from sand and
fine gravel. The use of block work allows structures to be built in the traditional
masonry style with layers (or courses) of overlapping blocks. American homes
are typically built with a concrete foundation and slab with a concrete block
wall on the perimeter.
A formed, sawed, or tooled groove in a repair surface to create a weakened
plane and regulate the location of cracking resulting from restrained
contraction of the material. Such provisions are also termed control relief
joints. Adequately designed and constructed, these joints serve to eliminate
random surface cracks by gathering, distributing and dissipating stress forces
resulting from temperature and moisture variations.
A cold joint is the intersection between the end of one concrete pour and the
beginning of a new pour. The basic rule is to try to avoid cold joints by pouring
straight through until the job is finished. The cold joint is a weak area and
could allow the entry of water.
A one inch carbon fiber strap designed by the head technician of The
Basement Guys® used to repair concrete wall cracks. Characteristically,
the long and noticeable vertical crack is accompanied by several small
horizontal cracks that are not strengthened by the traditional method of a
crack injection. The result is two weak spots on each side of the vertical crack.
The crack strap method is installed by drilling holes on each side of the
vertical crack and securing the one inch carbon fiber straps along the duration
of the crack. This method leaves the sides weakened by the initial crack
stronger than they ever were before.
A crawl space (as the name suggests) is a type of basement in which one
cannot stand up — the height may be as little as a foot, and the surface is
often soil. They offer access to pipes, substructures and a variety of other
areas that may be difficult or expensive to access otherwise. While a
crawl space cannot be used as living space, it can be used as storage, often
for infrequently used items. Health and convenience issues accompany a
crawl space as water from the damp ground, water vapor (entering from
crawl space vents), and moisture seeping through porous concrete can create
a perfect environment for mold/mildew to form on any surface in the crawl
space, especially cardboard boxes, wood floors and surfaces, drywall and
some types of insulation.
The process of encapsulating the crawl space with a vapor barrier and
insulation creating a clean, healthy and usable space.
Treatment of a surface or installation of a technology to resist the passage of
moisture caused by differences in moisture content, vapour pressure and
temperature across the basement envelope to prevent accumulation of water
against the outer surfaces of the envelope (walls and floor slab).
A household appliance that reduces the level of humidity in the air.
With respect to concrete block foundations, involves the removal or draining
of water that has accumulated within concrete blocks.
A method in repairing a bowed foundation wall by excavating soil against the
wall from the outside and applying pressure to push the wall back to a straight
position. The area outside is then backfilled with gravel.
A vertical pipe used to drain rainwater from a roof.
The process associated with draining water.
A perforated, corrugated plastic pipe laid at the bottom of the foundation wall
and used to drain excess water away from the foundation. It prevents ground
water from seeping through the foundation wall. Sometimes called perimeter
Vapor Barrier for Basements, Attics and Crawl Spaces.
Common interior building material comprised of plasterboard pressed
between two thick sheets of paper. Drywall is easily damaged by exposure
to water. It also supports the growth of mold due because it is porous.
A dry well is an underground excavated area filled with stone that disposes
of water, most commonly drainage runoff, by dissipating it into the ground,
where it merges with the local groundwater. A hole in the ground filled with
gravel or rubble to receive drainage water and allow it to percolate away.
A deposit of white salts left on a surface when a solution containing the salts
leaches from concrete or masonry and then evaporates.
Code compliant and fire-escapable windows created for basements.
A method of sealing or repairing cracks in poured concrete by injecting epoxy
adhesives into the cracks in order to fill them.
The wearing away of land or soil by the action of wind, water, or ice.
A phenomenon whereby moisture that evaporates imparts a cooling effect
upon the material that is damp or wet.
A phenomenon whereby moisture that evaporates imparts a cooling effect
upon the material that is damp or wet.
To dig out and remove, as earth.
A tube or cylinder or box that is normally installed around the exterior
perimeter of the foundation footings that collects and directs ground water
away from the foundation of the house.
Masonry failures due to vertical shear.
A check valve that prevents the backflow of water from the municipal storm
sewer system to your basement floor drain.
Horizontal supporting members that run from wall to wall, wall to beam, or
beam to beam to support a floor. It may be made of wood, steel, or concrete.
A footing is a poured concrete structure embedded below the frost line, and
is typically twice the width of the wall that it supports. The footing transfers
the weight of the foundation walls to the soil or bedrock beneath it.
The lowest and supporting part or member of a wall, including the base
course and footing courses; in a frame house, the whole substructure
A French drain, drain tile, perimeter drain or land drain is a ditch covered
with gravel or rock that redirects surface and ground water away from an
area. A French drain can have hollow pipes along the bottom to quickly
disperse water that seeps down through the upper gravel or rock. French
drains are common drainage systems, commonly used to prevent ground
and surface water from travelling towards the foundation.
Also referred to as frost depth or freezing depth — is most commonly the
depth to which the groundwater in soil is expected to freeze. The frost depth
depends on the climatic conditions of a given geographic area, the heat
transfer properties of the soil and adjacent materials, and on nearby heat
An architectural element made from glass. Glass bricks provide visual
obscuration while admitting light. Commonly used in basements for privacy
This typically refers to the pitch of a slope such as a hill, road or railway;
with respect to waterproofing, it is the height of the soil, or other surface,
surrounding the foundation.
The movement of materials from one location to another by force of gravity.
Is water located beneath the ground surface in soil pore spaces and in the
fractures of rock formations. Groundwater is water that has drained through
surface layers of soil and rock until it reaches a layer of rock material through
which it cannot pass, or can pass only very slowly. This results in the
accumulation of water in the rock layers above this impermeable layer.
The water is stored in gaps in the rock, or between the particles of which
the rock is composed.
A crack in an exposed concrete surface that is barely visible because of its
extremely narrow width.
Refers to voids in concrete caused by the mortar not filling the spaces
between the coarse aggregate particles.
Typically means "a love of water". In the context of polyurethane injection
resins, a hydrophilic polyurethane is attracted to and dissolves well within
Refers to "a fear of water". In referring to the properties of polyurethane
and epoxy resins, the hydrophobic resin molecules cluster together upon
exposure to water; similar to how cooking oils tend to cluster together even
after they are dispersed.
The force that is exerted on an underground structure by the water that is in
the ground surrounding the structure.
A fitting that goes on your sump pump discharge line. It helps to prevent ice
backing up causing a basement to flood.
Refers to the installation of a perimeter drain pipe, that functions in a similar
way to weeping tile, along the inside perimeter of the basement walls beneath
the floor slab.
A non-destructive testing method for locating delaminations in pavements
and bridge decks and detecting moist insulation, concrete, and wood in
buildings; the presence of flaws within concrete affects the heat conduction
properties of the concrete and the presence of defects is indicated by
differences in surface temperatures when the test object is exposed to
correct ambient conditions. In the waterproofing industry it is typically used
to detect moisture behind closed walls by detecting evaporative moisture
A joint between the footing and foundation wall.
A layer of material, typically impermeable, used as a lining on outdoor
concrete walls. See also, air-gap membrane.
Usually white in appearance, is the superficial growth of fungi on organic
materials, such as wood. A plant disease where the pathogen occurs as
a growth on the host's surface.
The growth of minute fungi that form on organic matter, often the result of
decay due to exposure to moisture/dampness. Parasitic, microscopic fungi
(like Penicillin) with spores that float in the air like pollen. Mold is a common
trigger for allergies and can be found in damp areas, such as the basement
A brick being secured to another similar brick or bricks by means of mortar
Applying waterproofing to the side of a structural element opposite the one
subjected to hydrostatic pressure (always the inside wall surface).
Columns of concrete usually poured into drilled holes in the ground, on which
the concrete slab will rest. This ensures that the slab is ultimately resting on
the ground sufficiently solid to support the weight of the home.
A thermoplastic polymer used in a wide variety of applications. Used in
The Basement Guys® crawl space encapsulation material.
A method for sealing or repairing cracks in concrete by injecting polyurethane
Applying waterproofing material to the side of a structural element subjected
to hydrostatic pressure (always the outside wall surface).
Any concrete structure or slab that was poured and formed in a liquid state.
A 13lb steel H-beam that is bolted into the floor using a bracket at the bottom.
At the top is an adjustable bracket that supposedly allows you to move the
wall back overtime.
A colourless, odourless, radioactive gas that occurs naturally as a result
of the decay of radium. It is found to varying degrees as a component of soil
gas and is known to enter dwelling units by infiltration into crawl spaces and
basements. The presence of the decay products of radon in sufficient quantity
can lead to increased risk of lung cancer.
Cracks at the corner of windows and other openings that are usually the
result of stress build-up at the corner(s).
Humidity is typically measured as relative humidity (RH). RH is a percentage
value that indicates the amount of moisture in the air relative to the maximum
amount the air can hold at a given temperature. Cold air is able to hold less
moisture than warm air; hence, the air is dry during the winter and humid in
A performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or
to compare the efficiency of a number of different investments. Also referred
to as ROI. In terms of real estate ROI, refinishing a basement instantly and
easily adds a significant amount of living space with even a simple basement
The most advanced carbon fiber wall repair system on the market.
Also referred to as a “band joist”. A rim joist rests on the sill or sill plate
functioning to keep the joists true also providing a surface for completing the
edge of subflooring and a flat base to support the exterior walls. The rim joist
is the "box" of a floor's structure.
Iron oxide that forms when exposed to oxygen and moisture.
Dehumidifier and conditions air made by Santa Fe also private labeled as
The process of removing paint from a masonry wall using a dustless system.
A sill plate, or sole plate, in construction is the bottom horizontal member
of a wall or building to which vertical members are attached. Sill plates are
usually 2×4 lumber. In the platform framing method the sill plate is anchored
to the foundation wall. The bottom of the sill plate is ideally kept 6 inches
above the finished grade.
The bracket used to attach Rhino® Carbon Fiber to sill plate.
Substrate particles smaller than sand and larger than clay.
A solid concrete structure. Typically, slabs are installed as ceilings over cold
cellars as well as over a gravel base for the construction of basement and
Refers to the wetness of concrete when delivered, slump is measured on a
scale of 1 to 12 with 1 being the driest mix.
A rod which is used to hold concrete forms in place when building a poured
concrete foundation. It is called a snap rod because, once the concrete has
cured and the forms have been removed, the protruding rods are snapped off
(usually with a hammer); thus providing a smooth concrete surface.
Expansive soils contain minerals such as smectite clays that are capable of
absorbing water. When they absorb water they increase in volume. The more
water they absorb the more their volume increases. Expansions of ten
percent or more are not uncommon. This change in volume can exert enough
force on a building or other structure to cause damage.
The chipping, splintering, and breaking into smaller pieces of poured
concrete, concrete blocks or cinderblocks, bricks, and stone. Spalling usually
occurs when water that has permeated pourous materials freezes and causes
To produce or release spores.
A term that refers to the way air moves throughout a home. Due to the
upward movement of warm air in a home, a vacuum is created in the lower
levels. If a basement or crawl space is infested with mold or other unpleasant
airborne pollutants and allergens, they are then pulled upwards into the home
along with the air.
The most common type of wall support on the market the uses a 13 lb steel
H beam concreted into the floor and framed into the floor joists above.
A sump pump is a pump used to remove water that has accumulated in a
sump pit. A sump pit, commonly found in the home basement, is simply a hole
to collect water. A pump used to mechanically evacuate water that has
accumulated in a sump pit or liner, usually found beneath the floor in the
basement of homes. The water may enter the sump pit via the perimeter
drains of a basement waterproofing system such as weeping tile or an
internal de-watering system, or if the basement is below the level of the local
water table. Sump pumps are also used where basement flooding happens
regularly and to protect against dampness where the water table is high
relative to the footing of a home. Sump pumps mechanically pump water
away from a house to any place where it is no longer problematic, such as a
municipal storm drain or a dry well, or to the outside. In older homes, sump
pumps may be connected to the sanitary sewer. Currently, this practice is not
in conformance with the plumbing code and/or municipal bylaws because the
volume of water coming from sump pits can overwhelm the municipal storm
drain system. Powered by a home's electrical system, sump pumps can be
supplemented by a battery backup. Since a sump pit may overflow if not
constantly pumped, a backup system is important for cases when the main
power is out for prolonged periods of time, also, the sump pump can corrode
from evaporating water in the sump pit; if a motor does not operate frequently,
it is advisable to cause the motor to run at least every 3 months. There are
two types of sump pumps: pedestal and submersible. The pedestal pump's
motor is mounted above the pit, where it is more easily serviced but also more
conspicuous. The submersible pump is entirely mounted inside the pit, and is
specially sealed to prevent electrical short circuits.
Repair of a concrete surface that constitutes only a small portion of the depth
of a member or element.
A phenomenon caused by the attraction of molecules to like molecules. As
molecules on the liquid surface are not surrounded by the same molecules
on all sides, there is a resultant increase in their attraction to neighboring
molecules on a surface.
A shallow troughlike depression that carries water mainly during rainstorms
or snow melts.
A viscous black liquid containing numerous organic compounds that is
obtained by the destructive distillation of coal and used for roofing and
A hole left by the removal of a metal rod which is used to hold concrete forms
in place when building a poured concrete foundation. Typically spaced 18"
apart at a height of 2' and 5', tie-rod holes are approximately ¾" in diameter.
To ensure that water does not penetrate a foundation, tie-rod holes are
usually covered, on both the inside and outside of the foundation, with a
The visual display of the amount of infrared energy emitted by an object
using a specialized camera. This is commonly used for leak detection in
building structures. See also "Infrared thermography".
Paste used to anchor epoxy injection T-ports to the wall which acquires
a lower viscosity when mechanically agitated, and rapidly stiffens upon
subsequent rest; a material having this property can be placed vertically
or horizontally without sagging during the curing process. This is the type
of paste used for epoxy crack injections.
Also referred to as “repointing", involves the placement of wet mortar into cut
or raked joints for the repair of weathered joints in old or damaged masonry.
Repointing: See Tuck pointing.
To dig or wear away the base or foundation.
A barrier used to prevent water vapor diffusion; a vapor barrier is typically
used to isolate wooden or steel framing from the concrete on which it rests.
A thin and usually jagged space opened in a previously solid material.
If the inward bowing of a basement wall is not excessive, walls damaged by
excessive inward pressures may often be repaired by excavating behind the
wall, allowing the wall to flex back into vertical position. If the inward bowing
of the wall is excessive, the wall requires replacement. The foundation
drainage system will also require replacement at that time. The details for
these repairs may be determined by a qualified and experienced contractor
or a structural engineer.
Movement of a basement wall due to outside pressure that eventually cause
the bottom of the wall to slide over the foundation floor. This is most common
in concrete block walls.
A solution for repairing bowed walls using an interior wall plate, an exterior
earth anchor and a connecting steel rod to stabilize foundation walls.
Drain tile designed by Basement Systems to make waterproofing less labor
intensive. The water guard sits level to the footer, therefore in order for water
to flow, it must constantly have water in it. Most versions have an open back
creating mold and mildew issues.
To let water or other fluid in or out through a hole, crevice, etc.
Treatment of the surface or structure to prevent the passage of water through
the building envelope under hydrostatic pressures. Waterproofing provides
a full and continuous barrier to water penetration.
Water oozed through a porous material or soil. The act or process of seeping;
The level below which the ground is completely saturated with water. Also
called water level. It is also known to be the depth at which soil pore spaces
or fractures and voids in rock become completely saturated with water.
A porous or perforated pipe used for underground drainage. Weeping tile
is installed along the foundation footings exposed to the water table.
The flow of moisture through the small interconnected pores in concrete due
to adhesion and surface tension.
Typically a galvanized steel semi-circular structure installed to prevent
the cave-in of soil and water flow into below grade basement windows.
A drain, similar to a kitchen sink drain, which channels window well water
towards the weeping tile and its surrounding gravel layer. A window well drain
prevents water from entering a basement from around the window frame or
through the window itself.
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