Wicking – Concept and definition of basement waterproofing
According to the Wicking dictionary it is:
1. A cord or strand of loose, twisted, or braided fibers, such as in a candle or oil lamp, that brings fuel to the flame by capillary action.
2. Piece of material that transports liquid by capillary action.
wicked (w-kt), disgusting, highlights
To transport or be transported by capillary action: the water is gradually absorbed through the bricks. *
So if your basement waterproofing professional mentions the term Wicking, it simply means that the water is coming up the wall.
How can this be? Doesn’t gravity keep water closer to Earth? How can water travel down my foundation walls, if they are made of concrete?
Those are all very good points. To understand this term we have to understand the behavior of water. The water seeks its own natural level. It does so by filling in the gaps left in its path by displaced objects. The composition of the water, or the molecules, will bond together and actually push and pull for this to happen. Water can find its way through tiny openings through this molecular push and pull action.
Concrete has small openings left by its drying process. The water evaporates in a process called curing. It leaves very small holes called micropores. The micropores, separated by thin layers of concrete, can be easily broken with sufficient force. So, like a sponge with holes, the holes in the concrete invite the water to seek its own level as it enters the holes left from the drying process.
Water pressure from outside the home can force more water into these pores. Finally, the water fills the pores and begins to search for other pores. Most likely, the pores are above where the water is currently. Again it uses the push and pull of its natural capillary action and slowly climbs up the concrete wall using the micropores.
With the water climbing higher on your walls and the wall saturation level increasing, it is a matter of time before the water passes through the final barrier and reaches your basement.
* The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.