Saturday, August 9, 2008

Landscaping and Waterproofing

While landscaping can help with waterproofing your wet basement several steps need to done to insure water is running away from the foundation and not into the basement. This house had the entire yard landscaped with rocks, plants, mulch and a multi-tiered rock wall.

Above the basement wall is a board called the sill plate. The sill plate is a horizontal wooden board attached to the concrete basement wall and supporting the above ground walls. This board should be at least 6"-8" above the finished grade.

This photo shows new landscaping that's been graded as high as the sill plate. Although you can't see it, the bottom of the sill plate is even with the bottom of the rock siding. The area in the center of the photo also has a small slope towards the home and rock wall.

During a rain storm, water would build up in the center area and enter the house between the sill plate and basement wall. While the house had a drain tile system none of this water was captured and ended up on the floor creating a very wet basement.

Some of the signs that the water is coming in from above ground include stains on the wall as in the case of this window. In this case heavy rains would spill over the window frame into the basement area. Once again a drain tile system would not work with this wet basement.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Waterproofing or Water Management?

When asked what they would prefer, waterproofing or water-management, most customers would like waterproofing. What's the difference? Waterproofing keeps moisture outside while water-management still lets the water inside, diverting it to a tank and pumping it back outside. There's only one way to have a truly dry basement....stop the water before it has a chance to get inside.

One of the most popular "waterproofing" systems is the installation of Drain Tile. Basically a trench is excavated around the walls of your basement and a perforated pipe is installed and new floor is poured over the pipe. The pipe drains to a tank in the floor which gets pumped outside when filled with water.

Another popular system, used with block walls, involves drilling holes near the floor into the blocks. The theory behind this is that the blocks fill with water and the holes will help with drainage. A plastic channel is fastened to the wall to capture the water and drain into a tank similar to the drain tile system.

Both of these systems have serious red flags including:

Power failure....What if the power goes out during a major storm and the sump pump stops? You guessed it, a basement full of water

Pump failure....It doesn't take much, an old pump (remember these are usually sitting in the bottom of a tank full of water), dirty water, rocks, string can all spell disaster.

Moist basement....These systems are still letting the water in providing a nice place for mold to grow and that damp, musty odor to flourish

Erosion of the foundation....While draining water these systems are also pumping out dirt and gravel that was once around the foundation. Over time you are slowly destroying the foundation of your home and providing an easier path for water to get in. Ever noticed how sidewalks next to older homes always seem to be sloping towards the house? The foundation has washed away allowing the sidewalk to sink and at the same time increasing the amount of water into the basement.

The leak must be at the floor level....In theory these systems seem great but what if the water is coming in half way up the wall? Neither will be able to capture this water and properly get rid of it.

Around 40% of our installations are homes or pits with existing drain tile or drain cove systems. Either the owner was fed up with the maintenance required or the system was not working properly or it was running all the time. By stopping the water before it can even get in, we truly waterproof and don't water manage.