GREAT QUESTION, I am so glad I asked! As we all know, we are in a “Free Market Capitalism” society. This means that if you can grow a business, in the parameters of the government’s laws, then you can grow your business.
How this pertains to Basement Waterproofing is simple. The industry is very new (less than 80 years old). And like all new things, everyone has their own idea of how to do it. Among these differences come issues. We all know that one guy who always says, “I’ve been doing this for 35 years, I don’t need no whippersnapper telling me how to do things.” Turns out, *most* companies act this way in their business practices and repair techniques.
Below, we are going to break down the major differences to look out for and how to find out how a company installs their products:
Drain Tile Systems
We have gone over this previously in a blog, but we really wanted to highlight the most important things:
The recognized “right” way to install a system. Think sewer pipes. Would you EVER install them level without a slope? Of course not! Why anyone would ever install a Drain Tile without sloping it the required 1/8” per linear foot is a mystery to us. A sloped Drain Tile System will operate much more efficiently and keep your basement dry even in the 8” rains we have been receiving the last few years.
Un-Sloped “Level” Systems
If you have ever had one of these installed, you have likely made a call to the company that installed it. Something like, “Hey you installed this system and this torrential rain we got some water.” 99 times out of 100 they will feed you a line to make you hang up the phone without realizing they sold you a lemon of a system. Level systems can handle light to moderate water, but are not equipped or designed to handle the heavy rains. Did you install that expensive system in your home to only handle SOME flooding/rains, or all of it?
Top of Footer Systems
RUN. RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN. These are the easiest and cheapest systems for a contractor to install, but they do nearly nothing for your basement flooding issues. These systems capture water just an inch below the concrete floor. This means that that floor of yours better be perfectly level with no dips. Otherwise, those will flood before the water can even get in the system! On top of that, they are even less equipped to deal with heavy rain as Un-Sloped “Level” Systems. RUN.
Foundation Crack Repair
There are a few “doozies” in here as well. It is important to note that we are talking about Foundation Crack Repair in the waterproofing sense, not structural repair. If your Foundation Crack has a structural aspect to it, there needs to be more addressed in that foundation than just the crack.
Again, we’ll start with the best. Epoxy Injection is the best way to repair a Foundation Crack that has waterproofing issues. A two-part, NON-expanding epoxy is used to fill the void in the crack via injection ports that are applied to the surface with, you guessed it, epoxy. Epoxy is the strongest material and lasts the longest, ensuring a solid repair through the years.
When cracks get larger, Polyurethane can come into play (as long as you address the structural component of the crack first). The problem with these is many companies will promote this as the BEST or ONLY way to fix a crack. Dead wrong. It is the fastest and cheapest way to fix a crack without training a technician properly. Epoxy is hard to work with, you can make lots of mistakes with Polyurethane and still get the injection in. Big problem is the material does not last as long and the re-repair is much more expensive, as it usually requires a dig-and-seal from the exterior.
If anyone ever tells you that Polyurethane allows for small movements in the crack without the seal breaking, ask them two questions.
How much movement, exactly?
If you KNOW my house is moving that much, why aren’t you addressing the structural aspect of it? A house should NOT be moving.
Drill & Inject
This is one of the oldest techniques used, and it is not effective. Many times, they cannot get the foam (lowest quality/cheapest available) into the whole crack. And when they do, the product wears down and leaks anyways. We have had to install entire Drain Tile Systems where they were not otherwise needed because of these cracks. Do not drill and inject.
We’ll combine these two for our last technique on this list. These were the OG repair techniques. First they came out with. Starting with Bleeder Tube, they chiseled a large trench around the crack all the way up the wall. Then, they drill a hole in the floor. They then insert a tube into the trench and down through the hole. Finally, cover with cement. Idea? Water goes down the tube under the floor. Idiotic!! Obviously does not work well and only allows your foundation to be worn away even more as water continues to travel through it.
Bentonite is an expanding clay that can be used for waterproofing. In the right settings and application, it can work very well. When you give it to a Basement Waterproofing Company to fix a crack, it’s like giving a kid a bucket of marbles to fill a hole. The marbles will just end up everywhere. Same happens with the Bentonite. In order for it to work, a proper hole must be dug and the wall needs to be cleaned well. Most of the time, the contractor will dig a little hole with a post hole digger, dump the bag in, and call it a day. Certainly not worth hiring out for. The other issue is Bentonite takes water to activate. So you pour it in the hole dry, then it needs to rain to activate. So the next couple of rains you will still leak, and may even have some of the Bentonite come through the wall. Make sure you don’t have a finished basement! Or better yet, call the professionals instead.
Read more about – Tips for Controlling Basement Dust Mites
Do Your Research
Drain Tile and Foundation Crack Repair are the most common repairs needed on a home with Basement Waterproofing issues. You may see other systems out there as well. The important thing is to do your research. Saavy salesmen are at your home for one purpose. Don’t be fooled by some smooth words and a smile. Do some research on the company, the repair technique, and the track record for that technique. With Google and YouTube, there is NO need to guess what may work. Heck, we have a full line of “How We Do It” videos so you can see for yourself, check them out! (Youtube.com/TheRealSealLLC).
Thanks for reading, and as always:
“Not Everything’s Better When Wet”