Fixing a Leaky Crawl Space


We say, “Oh if I could only have done that differently,” occasionally. Perhaps this is your chance! When looking for a solution to a wet basement online, many organizations say they have the best systems and the newest innovations in basement waterproofing. Often, they’ll use every clever argument they know to try and win you over as their preferred option. Once you dig further, you’ll see that their damproofing techniques and internal drainage systems are just as antiquated as everyone else’s. Worse, they use smooth sales tactics you might find on a used vehicle lot! All this rhetoric relies on ambiguity, deception, and spin to convince an Eskimo to buy ice cubes.

At this point, you’re probably wondering why you should put your faith in me. The short answer is that I’m not attempting to sell you anything. Suppose you carefully consider all I have to say and read this entire letter to its conclusion. In that case, you will be better prepared to deal with the “slick” salesmen who will inevitably enter your life. I will spill some TRADE SECRETS that competing businesses don’t want you to know so that you can be more well-informed, prepared, and armed than you are today. First, let me tell you a little about myself and why I’m the best person to explain the systems and assist you in figuring out how to fix the water or mold in your basement.


I began constructing basements over twenty years ago when I was still in high school. I was hired by the state of Ohio’s largest basement company. I was involved in the footer and wall crews, so I quickly learned about all aspects of building a new house’s foundation and sealing the basement. Asbestos removal from schools and government buildings was one of my first jobs after graduating from high school (this was in the mid-1980s when a law was created mandating the removal of asbestos from all government facilities). When I had saved enough money for college, I decided to quit my job, despite having learned everything there was to know about damaging air flow containments, air scrubbers, manometers, and the fundamentals of ENVIRONMENTAL CLEAN UP. It is funny how Murphy will catch you when you make a promise not to do something: I promised I would never wear a Tyvec suit or respirator again during a mold or asbestos cleanup. During this time, I decided to make amateur mycology one of my numerous hobbies. In my basement, I set up a laboratory. I rigged up a sterile culture setup for mushroom, mold, and fungal cultivation and got to work. I became familiar with current laboratory equipment like Petri dishes and autoclaves. I examined cultures and did spore streaking. I educated myself to the level of a mycology associate’s degree. After enrolling in college, I realized I would need to support myself financially, so I took a job with Ohio’s third-largest basement waterproofing firm. They hired me to fix the leaks in their basements after they built waterproofing systems.


It didn’t take me long to realize that almost every Ohio basement waterproofing firm had significant flaws…


They’re all putting in place insecure systems. For those “problem” jobs, they have SERVICE DEPARTMENTS. I mastered the art of resolving these “issues” in basements through practice. After that, I went out on my own and started waterproofing cellars. I knew from the start that I’d have to serve my customers less often if I didn’t want to “fix” the systems used to treat basements and charge yearly for customers’ warranties. I devoured every book on the topic that I could get my hands on. During the first two years, I conducted massive research and experimented to “fix” all the issues I found with the available waterproofing solutions.


I have spent countless hours perfecting the systems over the years to ensure they are always at the “CUTTING EDGE” of their field. About five years ago, I started researching “black mold” and its impact on human health. We devised the first mold remediation method entirely safe for human consumption.


First, you need to realize that there are only three primary methods for resolving water leakage issues in any basement.


Although many businesses say they provide all three options, they only implement one. The majority of companies only offer two primary systems: internal and external.


The majority of businesses use a combination of an internal drain system and a sump pump to keep water under control. Regardless of what they’re called, sump pumps and drains installed below floors are also considered interior plumbing. Unless there is no other choice, this is a terrible plan. If you can help it, try to avoid using energy whenever possible. Some businesses (like the Big Chuck and Little John guys) intentionally mislead customers to gain an edge by saying that the problem can only be solved by combining the interior system with something else, typically some outside work (often digging down only 12 inches). The exterior work typically provides minimal value to the consumer. Still, it allows the corporation to DRIVE UP THEIR PRICE and stand out from the competition operating within the same internal system. Some businesses would falsely quote prices for services they don’t offer to drive out rivals. They will charge an excessive amount for outside waterproofing, a pittance for the inside drain method, and an average fee for their system. If you request either of the other two options, they will likely tell you that it won’t function in your situation, and hence they won’t install it. Companies specializing in interior systems have also developed products above the floor or the footer. Even though they are promoted very well, these systems can’t compete with more conventional under-slab or exterior drainage systems. The cause is straightforward: water seeping in from the ground or the outer wall does not get diverted away from under the slab.


Here’s a quick rundown of the national basic systems and what’s wrong with them so you can navigate the maze of options.


The first is to excavate the foundation, which involves digging up the structure; this is commonly known as waterproofing (but I can promise you that in most contractors’ cases, IT ISN’T) but is nonetheless the most obvious alternative. These shady characters operate as small, 1-4 man gangs. They have been taught by others who have been trained by others, etc. These “so-called waterproofers” reapply the same sealants and use the same methods, proven ineffective the first time around. As a result, the wall needs to be re-parged and tarred like a monkey.


Can you think of anyone you know who had a driveway made of asphalt? What was the frequency of having to reseal it?


I can confirm that I have. As a kid, I remember two neighbors arguing about the proper driveway. The original owner insisted that yearly sealing was required, so he did just that. Two-year intervals, according to the second one, were excessive. In my head, I can still clearly hear them arguing. LOL. The US Bureau of Standards reports that, sadly, asphalt sealants fail within 18 months. The tragic reality is that they were both correct. These “waterproofers” charge an average of $10,000 to $15,000 to dig up the basement and reseal it using the same methods previously failed.


As you can see, Tar has never been given a waterproof rating.


Did you know that the building codes define damp-proofing (tar) and waterproofing differently? To damp-proof something is to “help to slow the penetration of water into the substrate,” according to the dictionary. Waterproofing is defined as “something that prevents the penetration of water,” the membrane must also pass a bending test in which it is bent around a cylinder.


Because of their higher cost, watertight sealants are rarely seen in residential settings.


The average contractor cannot afford to give you, the homeowner, a product that is both functional and durable enough to “stand the test of time,” so to speak. If you want to reseal your basement, we suggest using the MULTI-STEP EXTERIOR WATERPROOFING SYSTEM we’ve created, which involves resurfacing the basement’s walls with cement and fiber reinforcement and sealing them with at least two sealants with waterproof ratings. Although this may or may not be the BEST system to implement, it is not the cheapest option. Which method is best for YOUR condition is unique to YOU. There is no one-stop-shop solution to all issues that may arise in a basement. Using a multi-stage exterior waterproof system will actively drain water away from the foundation, making water leaks a thing of the past and guaranteeing that the sealants will outlast the wood on your house.


Second, I propose a sub-floor water re-direction system as an in-house option for redirecting water flow. This entails digging trenches around the inside of the basement’s walls and setting up a drainage system there. When the water table rises due to prolonged rain or no melt, many businesses fail to mention that the system relies on thorough drainage of the walls and any water under the slab. Water can be “drained” from the interior of the walls with this system by drilling weep holes into the center of every block and then directing the water to a drain pipe that leads to a sump pump. Sometimes competing businesses may “explain” that the line below the floor draws the groundwater and the trench outside draws the surface water. This outdoor trench is useless because of its modest depth. Under the basement floor slab is a row of blocks with drainage holes punched into the core face, but this is never mentioned. And this, folks, is THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP, and it’s the one that other contractors like to “mess up” the most. Two factors must be addressed to ensure the “weep holes” work as intended. To begin with, the level of the “bottom” inside the blocks can vary from one mason to the next because of the mortar that was “sloughed off” during the laying process. This means you should stay in the lowest section of the block while still being above the mortar bed.


Second, your troops must be well-versed in the evolution of concrete blocks and the various core patterns that have been put into them. You will see that YOUNG males perform this service. Only those with two cores have been produced in the brief history of concrete blocks. If they drill into the league in the spot they think the core is today, in one of the numerous iterations of the block’s construction over the years, they may hit the web instead of the heart or pocket. To successfully drain the entire wall, it is necessary to drill into the center of each block. Drain tiles can be installed correctly, and they still have problems. Leaving ALL the water trapped inside the walls wastes money and does little to solve the situation. It’s not uncommon for homeowners to call me after they’ve already spent thousands of dollars “waterproofing” their basement and much MORE to transform it into a finished space. The discovery of mold ruined the newly installed wallboard. One of my clients, Bonnie Rembowski, had this experience. She had contracted with a significant regional firm to build a system in her home. After that, she engaged a builder to renovate the basement of her house. They framed and hung drywall for new construction. Everything was great once she had the new carpet placed, except for… Repeated illnesses plagued Bonnie.


She had recurrent bronchitis for roughly six months and sought medical attention multiple times. Ultimately, Bonnie’s doctor recommended that she get a mold inspection. I had a call from Bonnie. As I began my investigation of the basement, I saw mold growing down the bottom few feet of all the freshly dry-walled, so-called “waterproofed” walls. When I started looking around the inside, I discovered that even though a permit had been requested,… The drain pipes were installed correctly after a thorough inspection, but… The system was failing despite the lack of any visible signs of seepage or puddling. The walls weren’t draining because of faulty weep hole placement, which we discovered after breaking open the floor and inspecting the weep holes (JUST AS I SUSPECTED). Terrible Bonnie.


She contacted the waterproofing company, botched the project, and we had to gut the brand-new basement and sanitize everything to get rid of the mold and help her recover. They informed her that the warranty would not cover the issue because the basement hadn’t leaked—it was installed incorrectly. Unfortunately for Bonnie, she also had to call us to handle the case in the basement. This isn’t the first time something like this has occurred to me, and I fear it won’t be the last.


On the other hand, this internal system is the best option for dealing with water rising from under the slab. The fundamental procedure is the same regardless of which contractor you use. However, there are several issues with the system used by “competition” nationally. With the UPDATED SYSTEM, WE HAVE ELIMINATED ALL POSSIBLE PROBLEMS, AND WE EDUCATE OUR WORKERS ON THE HISTORY OF CONCRETE BLOCKS is the GOOD NEWS. With the knowledge you’ve gained here, you won’t have to worry about facing this issue again. We REQUIRE the installation of CLEAN OUTS, which are holes cut into the floor for maintenance purposes. In the future, you may use the cleanouts to inspect your system and “flush it out” with a garden hose to keep it in good working order. If the pipes in your home become clogged, you can have them snaked or jetted clear rather than jackhammering the floor. Drainage systems installed from the inside can be the most cost-effective option, contrary to popular belief, when all relevant aspects, including ROI, are considered. Since it facilitates water drainage and reduces soil acid accumulation to a minimum, a well-installed inside system is also recommended to preserve concrete block walls from collapsing.


The last two are “beaver” or dam systems, which direct water from the walls to a sump pump or a floor drain and are built either on top or immediately under the floor but on top of the footer. Basement Systems(TM), Beaver Technology, and Squid Gee Dri are some of this category’s more common installer-targeted brands. In my experience, they provide the least protection for your basement.


There are several fundamental problems with slab or footer-mounted baseboard systems.


When the installer drills the weep holes above floor level, water can collect in the block for a while, fostering the growth of mold and accelerating the bottom block’s deterioration. This is flaw number one, as the slab is poured several inches above the bottom block. The entire home rests on the foundation’s one snag. If that block were to fall, it would be a disaster.


Second, when the cement finisher was troweling your cement floor X years ago, he probably didn’t give much thought to sloping the perimeter around the basement so that some person 50 years from now could glue a gutter there. Because the channel is so flat, water can pool around the base of the walls, and it can be glued into place without the need for any pitch. Over time, the floor slab and the wall will DISINTEGRATE if water is allowed to pool in the low spots. Seeping back into the house at some point.


THIRD DEFECT: Changes in the total number of cores used in blocks over time still leave this system vulnerable to the weep hole placement problems discussed above.


FOURTH DEFECT: The walls are only partially drained, which isn’t enough to prevent MOLD growth, and neither the slab nor hydrostatic water from the exterior is drained. Distributors of Basement Systems(TM) also sell a hybrid system called Water Guard, which requires only a 6-inch-deep hole to be drilled into the concrete around the footing of a basement’s exterior. A horizontal drainage pipe rests on top of the ground at 90 degrees. The constant presence of water in the level drain tile can contribute to the general humidity in the room, fostering the ideal circumstances for the growth of MOLD. This means that water from the water table or from the exterior of the wall that has been driven under the slab will not be drained or eliminated because the lowest section of the pipe is the TOP of the footer. That’s right; it’s merely a wall drain and nothing more! The contractor saves a ton of cash by employing this method because it significantly reduces the need for human labor. Many service providers provide you with a system that is essentially worthless since they profit more from it than any other option. It has been proved that a de-watering system underneath the floor slab and providing an artificial pitch is the most effective indoor de-watering system. When implementing one of these genuine under-slab systems to address the issues above, it is crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of all available options.


Have fun!


C. Boday, Charles

CM, MR, and LC-CCC

Super Dry Basements is the company to call when you need assistance with your basement because we provide fast service (most inspections are completed within 24 hours).


Ohio, Michigan, Western Pennsylvania, and Northern Kentucky may benefit from the Midwest’s most excellent basement waterproofing service.


Get the most highly qualified inspectors the market has to offer.


Get the best structural repair professionals available.


You’ll receive cost-effective testing designed to disclose the full extent of the project.


Since spores (mold “seeds”) can lay dormant for thousands of years and sprout overnight when exposed to a new water source, you will receive two safe spore-killing treatments, whereas most companies use nothing.


We adhere to a considerably more stringent MILITARY PROTOCOL devised after the post office attacks, so the protocol plan you receive will go above what the law requires.


You can obtain instant installation when you’re in a time crunch to consummate a deal.


You’ll have access to unmatched warranties and guarantees!


To arrange an immediate checkup, dial 1-800-948-4947.

Read also: How To Choose The Right Hardwood, Laminate, Or Tile For…