Basement Waterproofing Hazards

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Useless Interior Drainage System | Basement Waterproofing

Trench Cross Section Final

Note: Drawings are illustrative only and not to scale.

Basement waterproofing failures by AquaGuard Waterproofing Corporation go well beyond the gross negligence of allowing hazardous tar to be used on the interior walls of a home.  The interior drainage system, really the centerpiece of the contract, is utterly useless.  Every major part of the system, and many of the minor ones, are either defective, undersized, improperly installed, or some combination of these.  Such unworkmanlike performance might have been avoided if AquaGuard had exercised any direct supervision of their subcontractor.  Instead of a basement “…waterproofed with uncompromising pride, integrity, and value for life” as touted on their website, we were left with disaster upon disaster and more than $50,000 in contract-related damages.

In this and upcoming postings I will describe their failures to deliver the goods and services described by their so-called Senior Inspector during the inducement to sign the contract.  Details of AquaGuard’s “Water Management System” are contained in their proposal but, as we have seen (See Posting Misleading Proposal), AquaGuard doesn’t feel bound to abide by those details.  Regardless, all expert witnesses who testified during the arbitration process agreed as to what was appropriate for such a system.  Only the subcontractor AquaGuard hired, based on the work performed, seemed to think otherwise.  Either that or he was simply intent on ripping me off.

Here are quotes from the proposal (See Proposal:  AquaGuard Water Management System for complete text):

“The existing concrete floor edge is to be removed approximately 12-18 inches out from the adjacent edge of the wall(s), along the perimeter of the basement.  All sub-floor base material (clay, gravel and any outdated drainage piping) will be removed to clear a clean, sloped trench path along the inner side of the footer.  In the trench path, AquaGuard will install 4 inch Advanced Drainage System perforated, flexible coiled piping in a bed of large washed gravel, sloped 1 inch for every 10 feet for proper drainage.  This drainage piping will empty into a 30″ sub-floor, commercial grade plastic container housing a heavy-duty submersible 1/2 horsepower pump.  Water from the pump will discharge via a 1 1/4 inch PVC piping above ground and allowed to fun off as surface water”.

For now note that just about the only part of the above that was actually done as described was the use of the 1 1/4 inch PVC piping to allow seepage water to be discharged from the basement.  The piping itself was poorly assembled and installed.  Indeed at least one of the joints leaks.

Continuing with the proposal:  “Lower wall facings below the floor slab are to be exposed and cleaned of any silt.  The crew will treat the “key area” with the Aquaflow key channel water management system along the lower facing and adjacent to the floor edge.  This drainage composite will serve as an expansion joint to ensure proper channeling of water beneath the floor and serve as a back-up system for water seepage through the wall”.

There will be much more to say about this “drainage composite” in a future posting.  For now, observe in the above diagram that the “Miradrain”was supposed to go from well above the floor slab and into the “large washed gravel” at a right-angle (left diagram).  In reality it was short-cut (literally), poorly installed, and stuck into the dirt instead of being channeled through the gravel within the drainage path.

Finally there is the curious case of the missing vapor barrier.  As stated in the proposal and described by the “Senior Inspector” (though strongly denied by the General Manger…):  “A cover of 6 mil polyethylene will be used as a vapor barrier between the Aqua Guard Mira drain and the floor slab.  The crew will then complete the job by hand troweling a cement replacement over the trench using a Portland cement mis.  All job related debris will be removed, hauled away and the serviced area will be left broom cleaned.”  We will examine what really happened in future postings, including the testimony of the expert witnesses and the remarks of AquaGuard’s General Manger.

As the Arbitrator summarized it (See Award – Final – Rzemien v AquaGuard):  “The subcontractor did a terrible, terrible job” and “The Owner timely notified Contractor of the problems with the work, and the Owner offered Contractor ample and reasonable opportunities to come to the house and present a remedial plan.  However, Contractor did not take advantage of these opportunities, insisting instead on having its incompetent Subcontractor return to make repairs.  The Contractor failed to take diligent, timely and reasonable steps to cure the defective work.”

“…uncompromising pride, integrity, and value for life”?  Buyer Beware!

6 comments on “Useless Interior Drainage System | Basement Waterproofing

  1. Mj
    July 4, 2013

    Hi Russ, I’ve been reading your blog and am sorry to hear of your bad experiences with AquaGuard. I am in the middle of a basement waterproofing job with them and discovered your site after some concerns popped up with the installation. They had to tunnel below a few walls and rather than run the waterguard system through the tunnel, they cut it to form a 90º angle at the wall where it ends. It appears that nothing is inserted into the tunnel to take the water from one part of the system to the next. In addition, the corners are taped over where cut, but no tape was applied on the bottom of the system. And there’s no slope to the system along a few walls. Basically, it appears that these issues will render the system useless. Naturally, I’m concerned that the water will never make it to the sump pump, and worse yet, will simply drain into the soil below my basement slab and potentially cause foundation problems in the future. I plan to address these issues with the job foreman when they return either tomorrow or Saturday, and am hoping you may have some advice for me to help me get my concerns resolved satisfactorily. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated! Thanks

    • Russ R
      July 5, 2013

      Hi Mj, I believe working with the contractor is the best course of action. That of course includes contacting the company you have the contract with. I also suggest looking at the brochure from the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition (MCRC), which is pretty easy to locate either by searching on the web, or you can click on the link provided on my posting titled: “What to Look For and What to Avoid When Selecting a Contractor”. The link itself is found near the bottom of the posting and is labeled “MCRC Home Improvement Guide”. This short brochure has a number of suggestions and tips you may find helpful. I don’t know what county you are in (or state for that matter!) and I’m no authority on rules and regulations but in my county there are permit requirements which include free and mandatory inspections that must be completed. If county permits and inspections are required for your work, the inspector may be of help. Best wishes, Russ

      • Mj
        July 5, 2013

        Thanks for your quick response. I will check out the brochure you referenced. Btw, I’m in Atlanta, GA. Thanks again! Mj

      • Mj
        July 5, 2013

        Still reading over your site and the info in some of the links you provided in your posts. What a great resource! I spoke with the contractor this morning and feel a little better about the job, but I really wish I had discovered your site before signing the contract. I would have been better informed and asked more questions. Probably could have saved some money as well. Live and learn I guess. Keep up the good work Russ and thanks again!

  2. ac leads
    August 28, 2013

    Hi there, all is going fine here and ofcourse every one is sharing information, that’s truly fine, keep up writing.

    • Russ R
      August 29, 2013

      Thanks for the encouragement. I hope everyone reading my blog gains useful insights into the challenges associated with home improvement projects involving outside companies. With care and attention to details, contractors and customers can avoid many of the problems AquaGuard and I encountered. Hopefully my efforts will contribute to fair and honest dealings between all involved.

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