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Seeking Foundation Drainage Advice? Read This First

In our decades of helping homeowners with foundation drainage problems, we’ve seen thousands of people who have been given very bad advice from very well-meaning people. The bad advice has come from all sorts of folks. Many of them are paid professionals such as Structural Engineers, Architects, and Home Inspectors.

When trying to steer homeowners away from bad advice, it has been the most challenging when that advice has come from structural engineers. That’s understandable because engineers are held in such high regard – and very rightfully so. We at Lindsley Waterproofing have the utmost respect for structural engineers! In fact we very often seek their advice on structural concerns. That respect is mutual. There have been many instances in which engineers have asked us which of several options for shoring something up might be the better approach from an installation standpoint – safety, accessibility, digging conditions, etc. Often engineers defer to us if they’re asked to give drainage advice.

Unfortunately, many professionals who are hired as advisors will step out of their areas of expertise and offer suggestions when the foundation drainage or waterproofing for a house is not up to par. As a result, many homeowners have made very costly decisions based upon Bad Advice from Good People.

Here are ‘7 truths about foundation protection’ that I wish all consultants who offer drainage advice [paid, or otherwise] would realize and remember before offering any advice…

  1. Foundations, whether they’re for a basement or a crawlspace, need to have good protection from surface and sub-surface rain water. Building codes require it so that when the ground gets saturated close to a house, it won’t matter. It won’t matter because the house has good foundation protection.

  2. If rain water goes under a house when it rains, that automatically means that the foundation protection isn’t working. The Protection has deficiencies! Dependable protection needs to be restored (or created).

  3. Improving roof-water run-off can reduce the amount of water that exploits those deficiencies; but the deficiencies will still be there. Water will continue to go into the ground and get under the house – albeit less.

  4. Improving grading (ground-slope) close to the house unquestionably is a good thing. It encourages surface run-off; it reduces the amount of rain water that goes into the ground; and it reduces the amount of water that exploits those protection-deficiencies. But the deficiencies will still be there. Water will continue to go into the ground and get under the house – albeit less. [Common sense should tell us tell us that if sloped surfaces prevented water from going into the ground, vegetation would not flourish on mountains or hillsides.]

  5. ‘Reducing’ the amount of water getting under a house is not a ‘solution’ to a water intrusion problem; it’s an improvement; but it’s not a solution. It doesn’t take massive volumes of water to cause problems. Termites and fungi growing on floor joists are very happy with frequent wet-ness; they don’t need several inches of water to flourish.

  6. Trying to keep water away from a poorly protected foundation is a losing strategy. The winning strategy is to protect the foundation.

  7. Telling homeowners that better roof-water drainage and better grading next to a house will solve a water intrusion problem SIMPLY IS NOT TRUE. Advisors, Consultants, Brothers-in-Law: don’t tell people that!! You would be doing them a grave disservice. Tell them that they should contact a well-established drainage expert. Steer them to a company that has been around for a long time, replaced thousands of faulty foundation protection systems, guaranteed those new systems, and maintained an unblemished record with all the areas Better Business Bureaus by backing those guarantees.

Thankfully a vast majority of consultants already know all of this; but apparently some don’t yet – based upon the misinformed & costly advice we’ve seen from some.

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