Basement Waterproofing Facts: How Not to Waterproof a Basement


It seems that everywhere we look, there are “how-to” articles, TV shows and websites and, yes, more than a few “how-to” blogs, of which Basement Matters is one.  It doesn’t matter if you want to learn how to decorate a cake, master Photoshop or train your hamster, there’s something out there for you.

Today we’re going to buck the trend and tell you how not to do something – waterproof your basement.  In my years in the industry, I’ve seen professionals do things the wrong way – “solutions” that cost too much, take too much time and are much too disruptive – and I want to warn you before you make a costly mistake.

For you DIYers out there, we’ll talk in a subsequent article about how not to waterproof your basement yourself so you can avoid making the problem worse instead of fixing it.

Don’t Pay for Services You Don’t Need

In an earlier article, I discussed how some basement waterproofing companies use drain tile as a single solution for all basement seepage problems.  I’ll repeat that drain tile is wonderful stuff and I recommend it without hesitation when it’s the right solution.  However, if a waterproofing professional takes the time and effort to investigate the source of basement seepage, often he or she will find that the water is coming from a crack in a concrete foundation wall, in which case the problem can be fixed by injecting the crack for a cost in hundreds of dollars, not by installing drain tile for thousands.

Maybe the seepage is caused by downspouts discharging water right next to the foundation, a fairly common problem.  Would drain tile help in this situation?  Sure, but unless there are other issues of cove seepage or water coming through floor cracks, the right solution would be to redirect the downspout discharge away from the foundation.  For that, I’d recommend underground downspout extensions that cost far less than drain tile.

Sometimes, the right solution to a water problem doesn’t cost anything at all, such as when the culprit turns out to be clogged gutters.  Spending an hour or two on the roof or on a ladder to clean the gutters will solve the seepage problem at no cost to the homeowner.

Beware Unnecessarily Time-Intensive Repairs and Disruptions

Many of the costlier repair methods in basement waterproofing are also the most time-consuming.  Many of these repairs cause a mess while they’re in process, a small price to pay if the repairs are really necessary, but a huge hassle when other methods would be better.

For example, installing interior drain tile in an average-sized home should take two days, maybe three.  During that time, you will not be able to use your basement, there will be at least one sizable truck in your driveway and installers will be toting buckets of soil and broken concrete up the stairs and out the door.  If drain tile is the right solution for your home you’ll endure this to be able to enjoy a dry basement.  If not, it’s a pain the neck.

Exterior drain tile installation generally takes even longer and requires excavation all around the perimeter of your home, removal of landscaping and sometimes hardscape like patios and walkways.  Sure, you’ll be able to use your basement but the outside of the house will be a construction zone.

So, what about the alternatives? Injecting a crack takes only a few hours, often with no digging and minor inconvenience.  Installing underground downspout extensions can be done in less than a day and your home looks undisturbed when the installers pack up and leave.  If the seepage is caused by clogged window well drains, they also can be replaced in less than a day.

So, here’s my point:  The way not to waterproof your basement is to accept a one-size-fits-all solution to your problem.  When hiring a basement waterproofing company, make sure they offer a full range of services and don’t depend on just one catch-all remedy.

U.S. Waterproofing started out offering one service – repairing wall cracks from the outside.  From that modest beginning in 1957 we have grown into one of the country’s largest independent basement waterproofing companies.  We’ve done so by expanding our range of services to address every basement waterproofing problem and by developing the expertise to choose the right one for each of our more than 300,000 satisfied customers.  Doesn’t it make sense to ask for our free advice on your basement water problem?

Not sure which basement waterproofing solution is right for your home?  We’ll answer your questions if you post them in the Comments box below.



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