Beware Basement Waterproofers

I have a problem with my basement flooding.  A waterproofing company charged me $14,219 to correct. Two of that firms inspectors insisted underground water was being forced up into the cellar via hydrostatic pressure and only a "French" drain would correct it.  Hence, they installed a long deep ditch running alongside the interior of the home's foundation walls.  In turn, that graded ditch was supposed to gravity feed rising water into 2 underground electric pumps (at opposite ends of the basement) and eventually pump incoming water into the city sewer system. 

On the other hand, I felt the water was coming from the surrounding earth; coming through a rather thin foundation wall, and slowly running DOWN into the cellar doorway. 

Now it seems that I was correct. The company is stalling, wanting to take photos and "brain-storm" their next move.  Have you any suggestions?
ArthurD  3-30-07 12:34am

Unfortunately, it sound's like you have been taken by a common scam perpetrated by so-called basement waterproofing experts.  These snake-oil salesmen use high pressure sales tactics and scary words like "hydrostatic pressure" to pressure consumers into hiring them for expensive and almost always unnecessary repairs.

Let's examine the claim that forms the basis for the frightening prospect they pose, which is that your home will collapse from the pressure of the water against its basement walls.  In order for any water on the outside of your foundation to get to the drains they carve into your basement floor, it HAS to run against the foundation walls and then leak either through the walls or under the footing below the walls.  Hence, your foundation walls are subjected to the very same "hydrostatic pressure" either with or WITHOUT their fourteen thousand dollar solution.

Had they been more honest and impartial with the diagnosis of your basement leakage problem, they would have examined your exterior drainage conditions.  As you correctly pointed out, the condition of the surrounding soil and, more importantly, the functionality of the gutter system on your roof, have far more to do with correcting the basement leakage than any subsurface drainage system.  The type of system they installed is needed only when the problem can be traced to a rising underground water table.  This is RARELY the case and is easy to spot.  if your basement leaks consistent with rainfall or snow melt, the problem is NOT a water table.  It is drainage issue that can be easily corrected without spending a pile of cash.

My advice is to sue the contractor for not correcting the problem and for fraud, which makes you eligible for treble damages.  Only through actions like these mostly disreputable thieves cease stop taking advantage of the countless victims like yourself.

For more information, see my column here.

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