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  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Cynthia calling in from Brooklyn, New York is dealing with some wet-basement issues. Tell us what’s going on.

    CYNTHIA: I have a question I want to ask you about the waterproofing for the basement. Because I live here in a flood zone and then we had Hurricane Irene and was greatly affected by that.

    TOM: OK.

    CYNTHIA: So I had one company come in and they were asking like 21,000 – a little over 21,000 – to do that waterproofing. Does that sound reasonable or whatever going down there with that company?

    TOM: Absolutely, completely not reasonable.

    Now, the water problem that you had was associated with the hurricane?

    CYNTHIA: Yes, yes.

    TOM: The reason the water came in was because it was sourced on the outside of your house. In other words, when you have heavy rain like that, your gutters become overwhelmed. They dump a lot of water right at the foundation and then pretty soon the soil can’t handle the water and it drains into the house. And so I’m sure this is what happened.

    And if you’re only getting water when you have really heavy rain conditions like that, then you absolutely, positively do not need to spend $20,000-plus on a system to pump water out of your basement. What you do need to do, on a regular basis, is to make sure, first of all, that your gutters are – that they exist, that you have them, that they’re clean, that the downspouts dump the water at least 4 to 6 feet away from the house and even more than that or run them through underground pipes and take them out. And then your grading around the house, the angle of the soil slopes away. Those two things will go a long way towards preventing any further wet-basement problems.

    The problem with the waterproofers is this: they don’t make money by selling you gutter-cleaning services and extending downspouts; they only make money when they come in with their jackhammers and tear up basement floors and put in drain tile and sump pumps. And they do it whether you need it or not. And in this case, you don’t need it because you told me that this only happened when you had an extraordinary weather event like that. And that means you absolutely don’t need that service. What you do need is to make sure your drainage conditions are set up on the outside of your house. Does that make sense?

    CYNTHIA: OK. Thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Saved another one from the perils of the waterproofing contractor.

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