The American Society of Home Inspectors estimates 60 percent of U.S. homes have wet basements and 38 percent run the risk of basement mold.
For home builders and contractors, that fact says a lot about the state of traditional basement waterproofing methods. Darin Schlueter of Halverson Concrete Concepts agrees, “I poured foundations with four-inch drain tile for years. Every year I could expect six to eight would have water issues from failed drain tile.”
To avoid callbacks, some home builders take a more proactive, aggressive approach to basement waterproofing. Rather than wait for callbacks from angry homeowners, they assertively eliminate hydrostatic pressure issues at the source. A growing body of experience reveals a more assertive approach is effective.
Just ask the experts at the Building Science Corporation, led by founding principal and widely respected building scientist Joseph Lstiburek. Building scientists understand the futility of traditional approaches: Water will find a hole. Water under pressure will breach standard footing and exterior wall defenses.
Traditional basement “… waterproofing relies on creating a watertight barrier without holes. It can’t be done,” BSC investigators warn. “Even a waterproof boat needs a pump. By contrast, a water managed foundation system prevents water build-up at the foundation wall. No hydrostatic pressure. No force.” In short, no need to worry about water seeping through pesky holes.
How does a water managed foundation system work? How do you create one? What do home builders and contractors say about alternative methods?
Schlueter and a growing circle of contractors have put the bad old days of wet basement callbacks behind them. They specify a water management system that has been installed in numerous projects over the last 20 years with no reports of basement water problems. In fact, the method warrants a dry basement for 30 years.
The idea is surprisingly simple. Standard wood forms ordinarily frame concrete footings. This approach replaces wooden forms with an engineered drainage product that creates a fast, certain escape path for water. No drain tile or pipe. No wood forms to remove. This one-and-done system eliminates the usual follow-up steps like forms removal, speeding project completion. The channeling system also works with a dimpled HDPE membrane called Platon that physically prevents wet soil from coming in contact with foundation walls. Air gaps allow moisture to drain away.
“Zero Water Issues”
The system is called Form-A-Drain Plus, a building solution Schlueter has used for 10 years “… with zero water issues with foundation draining.” Wisconsin contractor Erwin Sweet of Perma-Structo, Inc. says the product is “… far superior to conventional methods.” James Bartels of M.B.I. Construction in Effingham, Ill., says the big payoff is “… dig the hole, pour the footing, and the job is done in one day.”
The system is also rated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as Radon Ready New Construction. That certification means one collection system now handles both moisture and radon venting.
No basement waterproofing process can claim to be perfect. However, it’s reassuring to know there is a system that may be the next best thing to it.
Learn more about a basement waterproofing system with a 30-year warranty.