Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Effects of Drainage Systems Used in Basement Waterproofing my twenty eight years of experience in the basement waterproofing industry, I have installed more than a dozen different waterproofing methods for basements. Most of them were drainage systems. Some of these systems were more successful than others at keeping water and mud out.

The first drainage system was installed by a man from Massachusetts by the name of Henry French in 1850. He realized that it was due to the damp and wet cellars that people were getting sick.  He wanted to change that, he had an idea and created the French Drain. This was a series of clay pipes that were butted end to end with a small gap in between to accept water from the walls as well as from under the floor. Today, the most widely used French Drain is drain tile. It is one large round perforated plastic pipe.  The perforated holes in the pipe take the place of the gaps between the clay pipes so that water can enter the drain and flow into a sump well: where it is pumped away from the house by a sump pump.

There is a problem with today’s drain tile piping system when trying to waterproof a basement.  When you have loose or sandy soil, it often clogs the pipe. The pipe is installed next to the footing of the house. It is also common for the water entering the drain to erode the soil under the footing. This can cause cracks and settling of the foundation. In addition to this, the walls of older houses with no footing can be seriously undermined.

Also, the open backend of these systems leave a pathway for soil gasses like radon and mold causing water moisture to escape back into your home. This comes from an opening that goes along your wall.  This opening was designed to accept the water from the walls and flow into the drain. This becomes more significant in today’s world because we insulate and seal up our homes in order to save energy. This has caused our basements to become unhealthy once again. Forty percent of the air we breathe on the first floor, comes from our basement. Many times in basement waterproofing, these soil gasses contaminate the air in your living space.  Henry French knew that water or damp cellars can cause disease and sickness. He did not seal up his home because the air flowing through the cellar allowed the soil gasses to dissipate. There are ways to combat these effects but they would be unnecessary if we took a lesson from Mr. French.