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At a glance, basement waterproofing may seem simple, but it isn’t always so.If you don’t pay attention to certain basement parts when waterproofing, you’ll end up with wasted materials and a big moisture problem on your hands.

Water coming in from the basement walls where the floor meets the walls is a particular basement moisture leak that many homeowners struggle with. Getting rid of leaks and rectifying them is easy with this guide.

Cove Joint Leaks

A cove joint leak is when you have a basement leak at the spot where the wall meets the floor. How does it happen?

Concrete was poured over a large hole to form your basement. A poured concrete footing in the basement supports the foundation walls and prevents the building from settling or rising.

Wet cement is poured into a wooden form to form the concrete footing. As the cement is still wet, a specially designed board is inserted into its center across its entire length to create a tapered channel. Known as a keyway, the tapered channel runs down the middle of the whole footing,

In order to create the foundation walls, another form is set over the footing after it has dried. The new form is filled with concrete and its bottom part fits into the keyway of the initial concrete footing. Upon drying, the foundation wall fits into the keyway like Lego pieces.

Cove joints, where the foundation wall enters the footing, prevent lateral movement. But the foundation wall does not enclose the footing. Instead, they simply plug into one another. Since they remain separate pieces, there’s still some space between them for water to enter from the basement’s surrounding soil.

If water enters the tiny space between the foundation wall and the footing in the keyway, it can seep into your basement, causing a leak at the cove joint.

How can we fix such leaks?

Repairing Cove Joint Leaks

Once a basement is built, filling or patching a cove joint to stop moisture leakage isn’t possible. It doesn’t matter if you use hydraulic cement, epoxy, or caulk, water will eventually make its way through it.
leaky basement dampening drywall

The next best thing is to control the leak, since blocking it with lasting results is impossible. This can be accomplished by installing drain tiles beside the footing. Water leaking from the cove joint will be collected by drain tiles and directed to your sump pump, which will pump it away from your basement.

Drain tiles consist of perforated plastic pipes embedded in a bed of washed stone. Cove joint leaks can be easily repaired with this quick and easy installation. It also requires minimal maintenance, making it a cost-effective solution for keeping your basement dry.

For a cove joint leak, interior and/or exterior drain tiles can be installed depending on your basement type and preference. Let’s take a look at the unique benefits of each.

Interior vs Exterior Drain Tile

Both interior and exterior drain tiles effectively control cove joint leaks. But interior drain tile is more versatile for the following reasons.

Why Choose Interior Drain Tile

  • Unlike exterior drain tile, interior drain tile relieves hydrostatic pressure under the floor. That is, when water forces its way up from cracks in your basement floor, the interior drain tile will collect and direct it to the sump pump.
  • Water that accumulates in basement window wells and flows over into the basement can be caught by the interior drain tile.
  • Installing it is quick and requires no excavation outside the home.
interior drain tile covered with new cement

Why Choose Exterior Drain Tile

Unlike interior drain tile that catches and redirects water that gets into your basement, exterior drain tile intercepts water before it gets into your basement. It’s suitable for stopping seepage from misplaced downspouts, heavy rains, overflowing gutters, and more.
Other benefits of installing exterior drain tile include:
  • Water passing through your foundation wall will, over time, compromise its integrity. An exterior drain tile prevents this by keeping water away from the foundation wall, keeping the basement dry and protecting the wall itself.
  • For homes that have a foundation built with stones, concrete blocks, or bricks, exterior drain tile is effective for preventing water from leaking through the mortar used to keep the masonry together. It does this by redirecting the water before it gets to the wall.
  • For those who already have a finished and furnished basement, but have seepage issues, exterior drain tile is the perfect solution. That’s because installation is done outside the basement without disrupting any part of your already finished basement.
As you can see, both interior and exterior drain tile have their benefits. Generally, the most bulletproof approach to resolving basement leaks between the wall and floor is installing both. The exterior drain tile will stop moisture from coming anywhere near the foundation wall while the interior drain tile gets rid of any moisture that does manage to get in.
Have trouble deciding whether to install one or both? Our basement waterproofing professionals can provide you with expert advice to determine which solution is the best fit for the unique needs of your home.