On the home page of our website, it asks “Leakin’ Got You Freakin’?” OK, it’s a little flip, I know, but, aside from being exactly the way I talk, it also summarizes pretty accurately the reaction most homeowners have when they discover water in their basement, particularly for the first time. Seeing a formerly dry, and possibly fully finished, basement with a puddle (or even a trickle) of water on the floor is an unsettling experience and most people’s first reaction is “I’ve gotta fix this — now!”
During periods of heavy rains, such as those that hit Chicago in spring 2013, lots of homeowners find water in their basements and start making calls to basement waterproofing contractors. Some get frustrated with our industry when they are told that an advisor will meet with them to determine the source and extent of the problem before any work gets done. These homeowners usually want to know why we can’t send the guys with the shovels and pipe and urethane guns right away because “my basement is leaking right now!”
It’s not that basement waterproofing companies don’t have a sense of urgency; it’s that there are reasons that ultimately benefit the homeowner that dictate a more measured approach.
Why You Should Have a Basement Waterproofing Consultation Before Starting Work
Homeowners Can’t Identify the Problem – Water in the basement can come from many sources: cracks in poured concrete foundation walls or basement floors, porous masonry, the joint between basement wall and floor and lots of other places. Professionals in our industry need training and years of experience to find sources of seepage and sometimes have to trace problems inside and out and even perform tests to find the leak. A typical homeowner won’t be able to identify the problem with enough certainty to guarantee that a repair is the right one, or the only one necessary.
There’s Rarely Just One Crack – Homeowners will sometimes call and tell us: “I can see the crack where the water’s coming in. Can’t you just come and fix it?” Sure we could, but chances are that there’s another crack somewhere that will start leaking right after we leave. Non-structural cracks in foundation walls are caused by settling or pressure from saturated soil and, when a monolithic slab of concrete moves enough to crack in one spot, it’s likely that there’s at least one complementary crack in the same wall. If the foundation has dropped, there are likely cracks in adjoining walls as well.
Water May Not be Seepage – Especially during heavy rains and especially in Chicago, water gets into the basement from sources that a basement waterproofing company can’t do much about. Sewer back-up is common in the city because of its combined sewer system that handles both sanitary and storm flow. Heavy rains can overwhelm the system and send water back up the residential sewer connection. When that happens, the homeowner needs a sewer contractor, not a basement waterproofer.
Something Might Be Missed – When a sump pump dies in the middle of a heavy rainstorm, it’s pretty obvious that it must be replaced. What may not be so obvious is that what killed it was an overwhelming flow of water into exterior drain tile because of downspouts emptying next to the foundation. If a basement waterproofing company replaces the sump pump without a thorough inspection, it’s just going to happen again.
Instead of “freakin’” when there’s water in your basement, keep calm and take the time to meet with the basement waterproofing company to make sure the job gets done right. At U.S. Waterproofing, our advisors have the expertise and experience to make a thorough diagnosis of your basement water problem and offer a recommendation for permanent repairs that will be both timely and cost-effective. Why not ask us to take a look?