HERE'S A SCARY THOUGHT: REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio–based Tremco Barrier Solutions estimates that of the nearly 480,000 houses that were built with basements last year, only a third of them were waterproofed. Bad news for those home buyers who got a basement but didn't get waterproofing. Bad news for builders, too, since a leaking basement means a callback and a complaint.

According to basement waterproofing manufacturers, builders are waterproofing more basements than they used to, but the number is still not where it should be. This is sobering news when you consider that a leaking basement is among the most common reported structural defects.

The low rate of waterproofing is one reason the waterproofing industry is still trying to stress the importance of a dry basement to builders. “That is our message,” says Tom Cullivan, Tremco's national marketing manager. “Builders need to provide buyers with a comfortable and dry space.”

In addition to trying to encourage more waterproofing of basements, manufacturers are now focusing on another overlooked area: the above-grade foundation wall.

“Over 90 percent of basement leaks occur at the spot above where the waterproofing stops,” Cullivan says. Even if a basement wall is waterproofed, water from a garden or a lawn sprinkler system can enter from the area above grade and find its way into that area, he adds.

For years, Tremco has marketed its Tuff-N-Dri basement waterproofing system, but the company has now introduced an above-grade system that adds moisture and thermal protection to the exposed foundation wall between the grade line and the sill plate.

Tremco is not the only one. Hamilton, Ohio–based HouseGuard is touting its HouseGuard product, a complete system that waterproofs, insulates, and drains water away from the basement. “The top 2 feet of the basement wall accounts for 30 percent of the energy loss, too,” says K.R. Terry, vice president of the company. As a result, the system also offers protection to the foundation wall up to the sill plate, he says.

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