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Basement waterproofing may require a sump enclosure or basin. Though contracted to install this basic element, AquaGuard Waterproofing Corporation failed spectacularly. The incompetent, unlicensed subcontractor they sent to my house messed up practically every aspect of the job. In this posting we’ll begin examining AquaGuard’s inability to provide, in a workmanlike fashion, a proper installation of the sump pump system. The resulting damages could have been avoided had AquaGuard taken a few minutes to inspect the work in progress but such a basic, common sense step was not part of their approach.
We’ll start with the preparation of the ground for the sump basin. As the Arbitrator noted: “One of the pits also had a 5″ deep void underneath, rather than resting on solid material”. That is one of several defects in the basement waterproofing workmanship. As shown in the figure above, provided with permission by Zoeller Pump Company, the entire enclosure or basin is surrounded by materials other than the foundation dirt. (Reference Basin Installation Instructions). In the reference you’ll find the following instructions:
“Dig a hole for the basin. The basin should be located in a very low traffic area proximate to an appropriate electrical outlet. The hole should be at least 8″ larger in diameter than the basin in order to leave 4″ of backfill all the way around the perimeter. A minimum of 4″ of compacted subbase is also required. Backfill and subbase should be 1/8″ to 3/4″ pea gravel or 1/8″ to 1/2″ crushed stone.”
There are multiple websites where the procedures for installing a basin are described, some with excellent diagrams to help understanding of the various steps. An example can be found at Wikihow.com (See www.wikihow.com/Install-a-Basement-Sump). In that example the hole size is described as being a gap 3″ to 4″ around the basin. The article also recommends digging the hole 12″ deeper than the length of the basin. The gap between the basin and the foundation dirt will be filled in with gravel, and then sealed at the top with concrete.
While the exact dimensions are subject to debate. I’m not a waterproofing expert and I cannot give expert advice in this area. However, all the sites I’ve seen and the all the water professionals I spoken to are in agreement that the basin should be surrounded by something other than the original foundation dirt. At this time it is hard to see exactly what AquaGuard’s subcontractor did, but not for long. I’m having the entire interior system ripped out as it is utterly useless. When the AquaGuard-installed basins are removed, I will take pictures and post the results, but I can save you the suspense. As the arbitrator noted, there is at least one void at the base of the enclosure. In addition, there are numerous holes that they drilled in the side walls of the basin which allowed me to probe around the enclosure. These probes indicate that the sides of the basin below the trench path entrances are nothing other than the original compacted foundation dirt.
Who can be surprised? Shoddy workmanship and taking shortcuts are a recurring theme. As I’ve noted in past postings, it is actually hard to find anything AquaGuard’s workcrew did that was up to industry standards.
In following posts we’ll describe in detail other issues associated with the basin installation as provided by AquaGuard’s subcontractor. Specifically we’ll look at how various openings were made in the enclosure. While some of these are necessary to allow, for example, the drain pipes access to the basin, others are of a more questionable nature.