Joie of Pittsburgh, PA, reached out to me regarding a basement waterproofing project gone wrong that she wanted to share with others so they don’t make the same mistake. She said she wishes Ohio Basement Authority covered her area because she follows our blog and can tell we know what we are doing. The following is my interview with Joie about the terrible experience she had with a different basement waterproofing company.
1. What problems were you having?
Water would pool in a small area around the south end of the basement during heavy rains. We live on a hill and our home is at the bottom of that hill, so groundwater collected mainly in the springtime.
2. How did they fix the problem?
We reached out to three companies in search of a bid for an external drain on that side of the house. The man who gave us the lowest bid told us that we needed an internal drain with a sump pump because there was the possibility of black mold behind the wall paneling. He also told us he and his brother would be the ones to perform the job. We took his advice because he seemed confident that we had a real problem and this was the best solution.
3. What went wrong with the products?
Work began a few days before Christmas in below freezing temperatures, which caused me concern because obviously water freezes. The two sub-contractors who appeared at my doorstep were a surprise because the business owner said he was going to do the job himself, and that was one of the main reasons he was chosen above the others. The work ended the following day and my basement was trashed. There was dust and debris everywhere. The floor had very rough patches where they re-cemented it. Cracks had formed in the garage from the heavy machinery they used. They dumped debris down my sewer drain in the garage, causing the water to back up in my basement. And last but not least, the pump they installed did not work and caused my basement floor to slowly sink.
4. What do you wish the basement waterproofing company had done differently?
I wish they would not have sent two very inexperienced, and most likely unqualified people, to perform such an important job. This was my home built by my grandfather in 1960 from the ground up. It took him two years and everything he had to build it. Somehow these men broke my home in less than two days. I wish the pump they installed had not malfunctioned, causing a noxious odor to emanate from the area. They actually told us that when water collected in the basin we had to suck on a tiny straw attached to the plug to get it working again. WHAT?!?! I wish they would have considered the high levels of radon now seeping up through all the cracks they caused in the basement and garage floor. And I really wish they would not have dumped debris down my drain because when it backs up, the task of clean-up is awful.
5. Is there anything you would like others to know?
My take-away from this experience is that you can research a basement waterproofing company’s background, ask as many questions as you can think of to ask and still find yourself in my shoes. I should have trusted my gut when red flags started to fly that morning, but I didn’t. If something feels off, it is ok to put a stop to it and call someone else. I wish that is what I would have done, and I hope it gives others the confidence to do what I could not.