The majority of basement waterproofing today is being performed by system companies. System companies may claim to offer different methods, but will always steer you to their method, which is usually an interior water control system. This one size fits all approach to basement waterproofing benefits the waterproofing company more often than the customer. I can think of no other industry that so predominantly utilizes a system approach as opposed to a problem solving approach.
There are really only two options available to solve wet basement problems: interior or exterior. Interior work utilizes drainage inside your basement to control the water that is entering and directs it to a sump pump. This method should never be called waterproofing, it should be referred to as water control. Water control systems allow the water in, in order to pump it back out. True basement waterproofing is accomplished only by exterior excavation to the bottom of the foundation, installing proper drainage and treating the walls to prevent water from entering. Let it in and pump it out, or keep it out altogether. This is the main difference between waterproofing and water control.
Which method is best for your foundation? The overwhelming consensus among professionals outside of the industry, structural engineers, local building department officials, etc., is that waterproofing is always the best choice. So why do so many companies in this industry propose water control approaches? Because it is all they do. Water control systems are relatively easy to install. They require very little in the way of equipment, material, or time, and require minimal labor skills. Water control systems have their place; however if damp spots, cracking, mold, or shifting of the walls is your concern, water control systems can actually make your problem worse.
When evaluating your specific situation, a real professional takes a problem solving approach instead of a system approach. An honest foundation expert will examine you basement or crawl space to determine the cause of your problem, in order to offer a solution specific to your needs. A system company salesman is ultimately unconcerned with the cause of your problem, because the solution he will present is the same for everyone. Be aware that a growing number of water control companies are beginning to propose some outside work, such as shallow outside drainage systems, or exploration trenches. This outside work benefits the customer very little and allows the system company to appear different, and drive up their price. Excavation outside is only effective if you dig to the bottom of the foundation.
Never fall for the discount you will be offered if you sign the contract today. Sign now discounts are nothing more than a sales tool to get you to sign on the spot. Do not make a same day decision, sleep on it. If you feel pressured, show the salesman the door. Shop around, do some research, take your time.
Finally, always investigate a company’s Better Business Bureau Report. Check with your state’s Attorney Generals Office for a listing of complaints. Angie’s list is a good source to find a good basement waterproofing contractor. Remember, a company’s size has absolutely no relation to how reliable or competent it is.