Basement Dewatering Channels – Rarely the Answer to a Leaky Basement


In our business we provide basement waterproofing.  Our goal is to keep all water completely off your basement floor so you can confidently use it for living space, storage or whatever else floats your boat (as long as it’s not in your basement!).  There are a few companies who say they’re in the basement waterproofing business but what they offer their customers is a baseboard dewatering channel that sits atop the floor.

There are a number of real solutions to basement water seepage – such as foundation crack repair, exterior waterproof membranes and interior drain tile systems.  A thorough basement waterproofing company will offer all of these services, using its experience and expertise to recommend the best one for the situation at hand. 

However, some companies in our industry offer a “solution” to all basement seepage problems that is essentially a rain gutter installed inside your basement where the floor meets the foundation wall.  Promoters of these products, known variously as RealDry™, Beaver System, DryTrak or SquidGee, claim that by allowing water to continue to flow into your basement and carrying it off in an inside gutter, you will have a dry basement.

There are differences among these products, but what they all have in common is a plastic baseboard with a molded water channel that is glued where your floor meets the wall, commonly called the “cove joint.”  When these baseboards are installed, holes are drilled through the foundation to encourage water flow into the gutter.  The water is then directed to a floor drain or sump pump.

The main problem is that these products do not stop water infiltration into your basement.

Here are the main reasons we don't recommend baseboard dewatering channels:

Humidity and Risk of Mold

By allowing water to sit in an open gutter, humidity is increased and the risk of mold or water damage to interior drywall, wood framing and insulation remains.

No Remedy for Hydrostatic Pressure

Only drain tile systems relieve hydrostatic pressure beneath a basement floor.  These gutters don’t prevent and can’t capture any seepage from floor cracks.

No Pitch for Proper Drainage

Because your basement floor is meant to be flat, there can be no pitch to the gutter, creating problems with drainage.

Adhesion to Floor can be Difficult

Basement floors are rarely completely smooth; cracks or a poor finish can create a rough surface.  This makes it difficult for the epoxy adhesive to make a complete seal with the floor.

Plastic Baseboard can be Easily Damaged

You and your family will want to make use of your basement.  Moving around boxes, having a basement workshop or kids playing may damage the plastic dewatering channel.

The sellers of these products base their sales pitch on the claim that their plastic gutters are less expensive and less disruptive than installing interior drain tile.  They’re absolutely right.  It can cost considerably less to glue plastic baseboards to your basement floor than it would to dig up the perimeter of your basement and install drain tile and it would be faster and cleaner.  However, when a professional drain tile system is in place, the water is controlled beneath the floor and your basement stays dry!

I don’t need to discuss the advantages of interior drain tile again here because we haveBaseboard dewatering channels may work atop knee walls. already explained how drain tile works.  There are a very few instances where the interior rain gutter system might make sense, such as when the basement has been dug deeper than the original foundation and drainage is needed on top of a knee wall (pictured on right).  A very thick basement floor or absence of a footing will prohibit installation of drain tile as well.  Beyond those rare situations, I’m at a loss as to why any homeowner would want to do this.

Oh, and for those who really want to save money, one of these products is promoted as a do-it-yourself kit! (And you know my opinion of DIY basement waterproofing.)   For an average-sized home, this kit could cost at least $1200 and requires you to spend days crawling around your basement floor, drilling holes, stripping paint and gluing down strips of plastic with smelly adhesive.  There may be some guarantee on the product, but it’s going to be limited only to the replacement of failed materials and you’re stuck with a wet basement and sore knees!

Every homeowner wants to maintain their home as inexpensively as possible, but in basement waterproofing the rule really applies – you get what you pay for!  I have seen enough homeowners who install this product themselves, or pay more to have it done by a contractor and then end up paying twice -- first when the product fails to keep the basement dry and then again when they contract the work that should have been done in the first place.

At U.S. Waterproofing, we’ve been providing real solutions to basement water problems for more than 55 years and our 300,000 satisfied customers will attest to that.  If you want to know how a genuine waterproofing solution differs from the quick-and-easy ones, get in touch. Our advice is free!

If you have questions about basement waterproofing or comments about plastic baseboard products, please let us know in the Comments box below.



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