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Posted May 30, 2016

The Right Approach to Water Control in Your Basement

I thought long and hard about writing this article regarding our approach to water control in basements.

Our company, Basement Repair Specialists, uses “water control” to describe our approach to mitigating moisture problems in basements. By the way we are not original in that regard. “Water control” is the term many reputable contractors use to describe a repair that seeks to move water from against the walls of a foundation to a drain tile system which removes it to daylight, or more commonly, a sump pump.

“Water control” is the phrase we use as directly opposed to “waterproofing”—but what’s the difference? In a word, there is normally no difference in a “water control” repair vs. a “waterproofing” repair, but there is a difference in the approach to marketing the repair.

“Waterproofing” is a term that is popular with many contractors because it adds an element of certainty to a repair that if performed correctly will indeed eliminate most water problems in a basement. But neither waterproofing nor water control will guarantee that water will never enter your basement. Think about a river overflowing its banks near a “waterproofed” basement. Clearly water will find its way inside whether through basement windows, cracks in the concrete, or gaps at the top of the wall along the sill plate. Or, if the sewer backs up, water will enter your basement regardless of any repair (please make sure you have sewer backup endorsements on your homeowner’s policy– they are low cost and essential protection).

The point is this. There are many contractors that offer certainty where certainty may not be possible. Double lifetime warrantees and waterproof basements sound comforting, but that assurance should be cause for skepticism. What are you paying for with a warranty that extends out 50 or more years? Very likely, few of the people involved in the transaction will be alive, much less willing to honor agreements made decades ago. Will you really own your home for a double lifetime? Clearly a rhetorical question.

Don’t worry. As a company, we stand behind our work. But more importantly, we believe that a realistic explanation of the likely outcomes of a repair is a more educated and reliable approach than a promise to warranty a waterproof basement for a lifetime.

My friend (and our regional manager) Bob was listening to the topic I was thinking about writing and suggested including a link to a fantastic article by the University of Minnesota about the topic of water control in basements. I had not previously read the article, but he was definitely correct. It is fantastic, and here it is:

By the way, our company installs Approach 5 as its normal repair. This is the most costly way to provide water control, but the most effective. Despite the more costly nature of the repair we install, our prices are generally lower than those offering other repairs that lack some of the elements of Approach 5.

If you are fortunately not at the repair stage please note the excellent advice in the article regarding gutters and grading. There are $100 solutions to basement problems, but they require the foresight to ensure water is not gathering at your foundation. Once these basics are neglected, there may be no option but a major repair.

Feel free to visit our website at and feel free to contact us at any time for a free evaluation!