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Why Basement Waterproofing Contractors Get So Many Complaints

Mar 16, 2012 • By Matthew Stock.

Why Basement Waterproofing Contractors Get So Many Complaints

Bill Cosby once said, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is to try and please everybody”.

Mr. Cosby was certainly a top notch entertainer, but I’m not so sure he would have made a good basement waterproofer.  

We like to think of ourselves as top-notch waterproofers.  The Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List would back that up.  But as hard as we try to please everyone, basement waterproofing complaints still happen.  That goes for everyone.  Nobody is perfect.   

Waterproofing can be an inexact science. We rely on the homeowner’s input during the initial consultation.  Common questions we ask include “How often do you experience the problem?”, “When did the problem start?”, “How much rain does it take for the problem to appear” and “How old is your house?”  Answers to these questions help to tell a story.  It can take a bit of detective work to solve a basement seepage problem.

Running a garden hose on the ground along the foundation can help identify and isolate leaks in foundation walls, especially if the basement is unfinished.  Often there are multiple problems, such as seepage from floor cracks, which can be difficult to replicate with a hose.

Common basement waterproofing contractor complaints:


When a homeowner sees water on their basement floor, they often assume it must be coming up from beneath the floor.  This isn’t always the case.  More times than not, the source of leak is from the foundation wall.  Ground water always takes the path of least resistance.  If there is a crack in the foundation, water will first seep through the wall, and then pool on the basement floor. 

If the basement is finished, it makes it difficult to determine the point of origin.  Remember, there is typically 2” x 4” wood framing (studs) behind the drywall or paneling.  This creates a hollow cavity between the foundation wall and finished wall.  This is why the drywall or paneling above the floor rarely gets wet.  Does this mean you must take down the drywall or paneling before we visit your home?  Not necessarily.  Often, we can locate the problem on the exterior.  There is no reason to remove the finished wall prior to our visit, unless you were planning on doing so anyway. 

Recurring Problems

Basement waterproofing companies usually offer a warranty on the work they perform.  The warranty only covers the original area of repair.  So if a repair was made on your front wall, and your basement is now leaking on the back wall, it wouldn’t be covered under the terms of the warranty.  The more established companies have a dedicated department focused solely on Warranty and Service related issues.  Before hiring anyone, ask if they have a separate Warranty department.  Otherwise, when you need it most, you’ll find yourself last in line behind customers with new basement seepage problems.  Better yet, on a rainy day, try calling the warranty number and see if someone actually answers.  If you interview a company who claims “we’re so good we don’t need a separate Service department,” what they really mean is (1) they are small operation and can’t afford it, (2) they’re more interested in chasing after new business or (3) they can only offer you a one-size-fits all system.  Every company gets an occasional service call.  Yes, even us. 

Lack of Response

Torrential downpours can overwhelm a basement waterproofing company.  Small companies tend to be the most vulnerable due to lack of resources (little or no office staff, unsophisticated phone and computer systems, etc.).  While bigger isn’t always better, you want to make sure they are large enough and in business long enough to stand behind their work.  How are you supposed to make that judgment?  First, do your research before hiring a waterproofing company.  A “lifetime warranty” doesn’t do you any good if they go out of business.  This happens frequently in our business.  Two of our largest four competitors closed their doors in recent years.

False Promises

Everyone knows someone who was taken advantage of by a contractor.  According to the Better Business Bureau, complaints from home improvement companies rank 3rd behind Consumer Debt and Identify Theft.  The barriers to entry in our industry are pretty low.  Beware of fly by night contractors.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! 

In Conclusion

A service business is only as good as its reputation.  In order to maintain a good reputation, realistic expectations must be set right from the start. 

On the rare occasion we do get a complaint, we do everything in our power to resolve it.  

While no one is perfect, our record speaks for itself.  

Tags: researching companies, competitors, how to choose a waterproofing company, complaints, us waterproofing complaints

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