If most homeowners were given a word association test, their response to “water leak” might likely be “plumber.”
In many cases, they’d be right. Plumbers fix leaking pipes, leaking drains and leaking fixtures like sinks and toilets. What they don’t do is fix leaking basements.
Plumbers are skilled tradespeople. To become one, a great deal of training and hands-on practice is required. They are typically licensed by the state in which they do business and can be depended on to know and understand building and sanitation codes.
Basement waterproofing contractors are also skilled in their trade. Although their business does not usually require professional licensing, their success depends on their having the knowledge and capabilities to do quality work and create satisfied customers.
So, when do you call one instead of the other?
Not to oversimplify it but a plumber’s field of expertise is dealing with contained and directed water – bringing water into a house, conveying it to faucets and fixtures where it will be used and draining waste and sewage out of the house.
This is extremely important work because, done wrong, it can cause great inconvenience for the homeowner, damage the structure and create health hazards.
A basement waterproofing contractor, on the other hand, deals with uncontained water that enters a basement because of damage or failure to properly deal with ground water. Finding the source of a leak or diagnosing a problem that is causing basement seepage is a big part of the basement waterproofing contractor’s job, one that must be done before an effective and permanent repair can be completed.
So, although they may seem similar to some, the jobs of a plumber and a basement waterproofing contractor are significantly different, with the only common factor being that both deal with water in the home.
Here’s a common scenario: A homeowner ventures into the unfinished basement one day to grab some tools and he discovers a puddle on the basement floor. Without much investigation, he returns upstairs and calls the plumber that had installed a new kitchen sink for the family last year.
When the plumber arrives in the basement, the first thing he does at the site of the puddle is to look up. In this case, he spots an overhead pipe that appears to be leaking from a joint.
He traces the pipe and discovers it is a drain from a bathroom sink so he knows he can open it up without shutting off the water, replace the coupling and stop the leak. Problem solved.
However, just as likely to happen is that the plumber looks up and sees nothing – not a pipe in the vicinity. Looking down, he spots a small trickle of water leading to the puddle and traces it to the basement wall – where he spots a seeping crack.
The plumber brings the homeowner downstairs, points to the crack and tells him to call a basement waterproofing contractor – then hands the homeowner a bill for the visit.
Of course, the same situation could occur in the reverse, with the basement waterproofing contractor recommending a plumber for a leaking pipe – except there’s no bill.
Ultimately, it is helpful for homeowners to realize that plumbers and basement waterproofing contractors are very different professionals and that one cannot – and should not – do the work of the other. Plumbers, although expert in their own field, don’t have the expertise, experience or tools and materials to diagnose and repair basement seepage problems.
At U.S. Waterproofing, our expertise and experience in repairing basement seepage extends back to our founding in 1957 and has grown along with us into the 21st Century. We have served more than 300,000 satisfied customers during that time and have always been happy to refer our customers to a plumber if that’s what’s needed. Why not ask for our free advice when you spot basement seepage? Pressed for time? Our exclusive Virtual Advisor can help diagnose your problem quickly.
If you’d like to know more about the difference between plumbers and basement waterproofing contractors, please post your questions in the Comments box below.
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