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Practically everything AquaGuard Waterproofing Corporation promised when doing basement waterproofing in my house was not delivered. The number of contract breaches goes well beyond simple mistakes and can only be described as utter disregard for the terms of the contract, a blatant attempt to rip me off and in some cases nothing short of gross negligence. In this posting we look at yet another failure, yet another combination of incompetence, improper use of materials, and an utter disregard for the norms and practices of the industry. In short, another example of the depths that a company can sink to when they grab your money, hand the job over to a disreputable, incompetent, and unlicensed subcontractor, and then turn a blind eye to what happens next.
We start with what Aquaguard Waterproofing Corporation’s salesman described as their Miradrain Wall system, part of their “Water Management System”. As with practically every aspect of what was delivered, this was a failure. And as with many of these failures the problems could have been avoided had AquaGuard taken but a few minutes to inspect the work of the crew they sent to my house. As the Arbitrator noted: “The Miradrain installed along the trench perimeter was not deep enough and it was terminated into the dirt rather than into the gravel, thus rendering it ineffective”. Let’s examine details of this particular act of unworkmanlike performance.
The left-side figure at the head of this posting illustrates a proper MiraDrain Wall system installation. Note the desired flow path of water seeping off of the wall. In AquaGuard’s proposal we find the following statements:
“This Aqua Guard Mira drain wall system will act as an expansion joint and serve as a back-up system for water seepage through the wall.”
“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.”
The statements made by AquaGuard’s so-called “Senior Inspector” were essentially the same. That is, installed correctly, the Miradrain Wall system provided a path to channel water seeping through into the trench path, ultimately flowing into the sump pump enclosure.
As stated by AquaGuard’s Independent Consultant in his sworn deposition (See AquaGuard Independent Inspector Depo Transcript 090612. Questions by my side, Answers by the Independent Consultant):
Q. Now, the Miradrain in that picture as it looks like I’ve always understood it, it kind of goes down like an L and it goes along the vertical wall and then it’s horizontal at some point?
Q. Tell me where that is installed generally, typically, appropriately in these jobs.
A. Against the wall, against the foundation wall and it wraps over the footing, if there is a footing. It extends approximately three to four 4 inches above the wall, above the floor.
Q. So it extends three to four inches above the slab?
A. The slab, correct, of the floor.
Q. And it turns right, turns horizontal at what point?
A. At where the footing and the wall meet, the foundation wall and the footing meet.
Q. Okay. And what’s the reasoning for having it go down and to the footing and then turn right?
A. It allows water to drain out of the walls into the perforated drainage system.
Q. I take it you wouldn’t use a Miradrain if it just went vertically and didn’t turn right? It wouldn’t serve any purpose?
A. Not much purpose.
Q. And the purpose of the dimpled plastic or the Miradrain that we were talking about in that system, tell me how they function together.
A. The Miradrain?
Q. Yes, sir.
A. The Miradrain runs down, down the wall, across the footing and is introduced to the perforated drainage system, so they work in conjunction with each other.
The right-side figure at the head of this posting illustrates approximately what was installed in my basement and represents what might happen in the case of water seepage through the wall; namely the water could back up, overflow the dimpled plastic, and spread onto the floor. If you do a little math the MiraDrain strip needs to be something like 12 to 18 inches in width; sufficient to go several inches above the floor slab, go through the slab itself (typically 3 to 4 inches), go deep into the trench path, and then take a turn and go further into the gravel in the trench path. Regardless of the exact dimensions, the fact is the MiraDrain installed in my basement was only 6 inches in width. See the following figure, especially the photo on the right side.
Other points illustrated in the photo are:
1. The Miradrain barely extended an inch and a half up the wall vice what was described by AquaGuard’s Independent Consultant or as seen in photographs they use in their sales pitches. One can gauge the size by either looking at the ruler in the pictures or, more easily, observing the spacing between dimples in the plastic is approximately 1 inch.
2. Miradrain itself is simply stuck in the dirt, as there is little gravel in the trench path. This shortage of gravel will be a topic for a future posting. As now installed, water seeping down the wall will not freely flow into the trench path. The presence of seepage onto the floor in spite of the presence of the Miradrain and the dimpled plastic has been documented in previous posts.
3. The Miradrain itself should be either long runs of solid dimpled plastic or, if necessary, seams should be made by overlapping the plastic, with dimples interlocking. The photo on the left shows several scraps of Miradrain jobbed together, all in a distance of less than two feet. This is remarkable and unfortunately fairly common in my basement. Around the 130 foot perimeter of the trench path, there are more than 30 such “seams”. Given that Miradrain is sold in 100 foot rolls, it is astonishing how they pieced this mess together, apparently focused on doing the job with the least amount of materials. Also, since the rolls are typically 12 inches or greater in width, the fact that they installed strips approximately 6 inches wide meant they had to cut the purchased strips even narrower.
In summary, the Miradrain Wall system installed is defective in several respects. Also the workers used a small fraction of the dimpled plastic needed for a proper installation and what was installed was done in a thoroughly unworkmanlike fashion. Such a flawed installation would have been obvious to any competent contractor charged with inspecting the work. AquaGuard felt no need to conduct any inspections of any kind in my basement.
One final note. When I had a reputable company come in to clean up AquaGuard’s mess, I had them rip out all of the interior drainage system as it was worthless and an eyesore to boot. Not surprisingly I found the dimpled plastic was entirely made up of the 6 inch wide strip, mostly stuffed into the dirt! There were other rip-offs uncovered, so to speak, during the removal process. I’ll cover those in future postings.