Basement Waterproofing Hazards

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Waterproofing Mistakes |Interior Trench Failures

Inadequate trench

The interior trench path for AquaGuard Water Management System was supposed to be approximately 12 to 18 inches in width.  The depth, while a matter of some debate, was likely too shallow.   As the Arbitrator stated in the Arbitration Award:  “The perimeter drain system was defective in virtually all respects, and the system as installed failed to comply with the contract requirements, failed to comply with the Contractor’s own internal standards, and failed to meet industry standards.”  See: Award – Final – Rzemien v AquaGuard Waterproofing Corporation

With respect to the trench path itself, the Arbitrator writes: “The width, depth and shape of the perimeter trench were inadequate, rendering the system ineffective.  The width was only 9″ to 12″ wide, when it should have been at least 16″ wide, to allow 4″ to get past the footing, 4″ for the pipe width, and at least 4″ of gravel on each side of the pipe.”

Regardless of the exact dimensions of the trench itself, a key failure in the trench path was the lack of gravel underneath the drain tile.  As the Arbitrator noted: “The trench depth was such that the drain pipe rested directly on the dirt and directly under the concrete floor, rather than permitting the gravel to wrap completely above and below the pipe.  The shape of the trench was simply the V-shape of a spade, rather than a U-shaped trench as is standard.”  Later the Arbitrator notes that the amount of gravel was totally inadequate and in most cases the drain pipe was in contact with the dirt and with the concrete floor.

The lack of gravel wrapping the drain pipe is a concern.  As it states in AquaGuard’s Proposal: AquaGuard Foundation Water Management System “All sub-floor base material (clay, gravel and any outdated drainage piping) will be removed to clear a clean, sloped trench path along the inner side of the footer.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 Aqua Guard will install 4 inch Advanced Drainage System perforated, flexible coiled piping in a bed of large washed gravel…”  The gravel provides a mechanism for water in the ground to more easily flow into the trench path itself and, from there, into the drain tile where it may reach the sump pump enclosure, etc.

If you are still with me, here is the main point.  An inspection of trench path before sealing it up would have revealed, as the Arbitrator put it, that “…”The perimeter drain system was defective in virtually all respects.”

I don’t know but I would think any unbiased professional who examined the trench path would have reached the same conclusion.  The county inspector who saw the trench path openings saw this.  For a company, inspections to ensure quality of work would seem to be common sense and good practice, especially if the company subcontracts the entire effort out to another company!  For a consumer, make sure the company you are dealing with has inspection procedures in place to ensure the work crews are doing their job properly.  If your state or county has permit and/or inspection requirements, make sure the contractor is adhering to those requirements.

I failed in all the above and paid the price.  Don’t let it happen to you, regardless of the nature of the home improvement project.  It is your home.  You have the right to ask questions and get answers.  Don’t be afraid to inspect the work or have someone else inspect it for you.  If something doesn’t look right, get an explanation.  In most cases the contractor is doing the right thing but there are exceptions.  Be vigilant and beware!

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