What Are The Most Cost-Effective Ways To Waterproof Your Waterfront Foundation?​

Posted on: 9 December 2015

If you've recently purchased your dream lakefront or riverfront home, you may be wondering about the best ways to protect your new investment. Because of your home's close proximity to water, ensuring your foundation is waterproofed should be one of your highest priorities for both physical and financial security. However, after signing onto a new mortgage, you may be reluctant to invest significant additional funds into this type of preventive maintenance. Fortunately, there are some effective drainage methods you should be able to employ relatively cheaply and which can help protect your waterfront foundation from damage when waters run high.

French drain

While the title may imply aristocracy or sophistication, a French drain (also called an exterior drain tile) is one of the simplest and least expensive ways to divert surface water from around your home's foundation. To install a French drain for a home that doesn't already have a foundation drainage system, you'll first need to dig a trench around the perimeter of your foundation. This trench should be deep enough to allow you to bury a drainage pipe in at least 12 inches of gravel and then backfill with soil and should be about 2 feet wide. Because the pipes you lay in this trench will need to be angled to allow water to flow away from your foundation, you'll want to make your trench slightly deeper on the water-facing sides of your property.

After you've constructed your trench, you'll lay some PVC drainage pipes on the soil, ensuring they're properly angled to divert water from the sides of your foundation. You'll then completely cover the pipe with at least 12 inches of gravel, which helps protect leaves, twigs, and other debris from getting into these pipes and causing clogs that can prevent adequate drainage. Finally, you'll want to cover the gravel with landscaping fabric that will serve as a barrier between the topsoil and pipe, then fill in the remaining indentation with topsoil. The resulting drain should be sufficient to divert all surface water from your foundation, as well as protect it from damage when water levels rise. 

Reinforced seawall

If your home is on a hill or cliff overlooking water, erosion may be a significant concern. As tides rise and fall, they take with them soil and sand from adjacent outcroppings. Without a seawall or other bracing mechanism to hold this earth in place and protect it from the ravages of water, over time the "footprint" of your property will be eaten away, diminishing its value. A waterfront property with no protective seawall may also be at greater risk for storm damage caused by high winds or rising waters. 

While some seawalls are created with reinforced masonry that can be costly to install, you should be able to construct your own durable seawall reinforced with steel pipes for a fraction of the cost. To do this, you'll need a series of thick, threaded steel pipes (at least 4 feet long by 3 inches wide) to be placed every 6 to 8 feet along the waterfront, enough easy-mix concrete to secure these pipes in the ground, enough 2"x12" lumber to form the struts between the pipes, and some nuts and washers to connect the lumber and pipes. Depending upon the type of sand or soil in which you're going to be securing the pipes, you may also want a post hole digger (or jackhammer) to make this process easier.

After marking the locations where each pipe is to be placed and digging at least 2 feet, you'll place these pipes and surround them with concrete. You'll then measure the intervals between each pipe and cut your boards to fit, drilling holes where these boards are to be anchored to the steel pipes. After ensuring that your pipes and boards will fit properly (and provide full coverage for your waterfront area), you'll need only to use your nuts and washers to secure the boards to the steel pipes. 

If you feel you cannot do this on your own, consider contacting professional waterproofing contractors, such as those at Rite-Way Waterproofing.