Waterproofing Your Bulkhead

Why Is My Bulkhead Leaking?

Your bulkhead is a valuable component of your home.

It allows you and others to walk in and out of your basement without having to go through the nicer, cleaner areas of your home upstairs. If work needs to be done in the basement or large items need to be stored there, a bulkhead provides a large opening to accomplish this while keeping the rest of the home unaffected. A bulkhead also gives you an additional egress(way out) in a basement that would otherwise be underground and landlocked. Having two exits is also necessary legally if you plan on finishing your basement.

Is your bulkhead keeping out the elements as it should?

Perhaps you’ve noticed a musty smell in your basement or mold on the basement walls. Maybe you see that the area around the bulkhead stairs is always wet.

waterproofing your bulkheadHow is it that a bulkhead can let in moisture?


Most bulkheads unfortunately are not part of the original pour of your home’s concrete foundation. They are added after the foundation cures. These precast bulkheads are bolted to the foundation during the building process. Therefore, the connection between the bulkhead and the foundation is a cold joint(two separate pours). A builder seals this joint by installing a rubber seal between the bulkhead and the foundation. This is meant to prevent leaks and moisture from getting in the basement.

The problem is that this rubber seal fails over time.

How does this happen?


Since the bulkhead is separate from the foundation, it is able to move independently. There is not enough weight to hold them in place once they are subjected to the forces of nature, specifically, winter. As the water and soils underneath the bulkhead freeze and thaw, the bulkhead experiences movement which compromises the rubber seal. Gaps in the seal result in leaks. These leaks will show up over time between the precast seams, the bottom step, or on the basement walls and floor.

What Can Be Done About Leaking Bulkhead?

Wherever the water or moisture is coming from, we can help.

As we mentioned, most bulkhead leaks are caused by the movement of the bulkhead unit. The rubber seal that has been compromised needs to be removed so that our urethane injection process can adhere to the concrete cleanly. This two-part urethane foam seals any gaps in the concrete, making it completely waterproof.

Another cause of leaks can be the bulkhead door itself. These steel doors can rust and erode over time. We can replace them with new doors and seal them.

Finally, water may simply be coming over the top of the concrete opening of the bulkhead outside. It may have been set too low(at or near ground level). We can raise the height of the concrete opening so that water can’t come in. The outside joint that is created is then sealed as well.

To learn more about our bulkhead waterproofing services, click here.

Bulkheads don’t have to be a cause of headaches due to moisture and water entry. They can remain a valuable asset of our home if they are maintained and waterproofed properly.

Scroll to Top