Saturday, Apr 21, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Mary Alice Powell

Basement waterproofing was fascinating

As an owner of waterfront property, I have for 19 years had the distinction of having a basement below water level, resulting in a wet basement. But 50 or more years after the house was built, the problem is, I hope, solved.

A dry basement, can it be true? Will the three days of hard labor by a Toledo company s waterproofing crew really do the job? We will see. In the meantime, I am loving walking on the basement floor in my stocking feet, setting up an ironing board down there, and leaving rugs on the floor that are still dry three days later.

So it s their job and these young men do it every day Nevertheless, I was favorably impressed. Of course, in time heavy rains will determine if that impression continues, but the day after the crew packed up tons of concrete and other debris and left, a rain measuring 1.2 inches was kept at bay.

The decision to waterproof the basement was a major one. Dry basement or a trip to Hawaii next winter, which would it be? You could say that I had just had it, slipping and sloshing through water to get to the washer and dryer. The day I slipped and fell on my back had more to do with my decision than all the promises, brochures, and pitches from the company s salesmen. I was such a tough sell a second salesman was sent in. Single women have to pay attention and question when making business deals.

It was suggested that I lock up and leave the house during the job, particularly when part of the basement floor was being removed with a jackhammer. I am not leaving, I said, and I didn t.

I had to do more than watch and listen. Preparation work was my responsibility. Everything in the basement had to be moved to the center of the floor. Emptying nine cupboards and 30 feet of shelving and grouping it all in the center of the floor took two of us 10 hours. The mound then had to be covered with my largest tarp. The crew moved the appliances and also gave the mound a second plastic wrap. They also wrapped the new furnace, which I love and am very protective of. The night before I turned off the furnace and taped plastic over all the registers.

So how do you seal a basement from water? Obviously not the way I had been doing for many years, by brushing filler materials over the cracks and spending big money on three occasions to have hundreds of feet of drainage tile laid in the yard to divert rain and lake water.

The new system, installed with incredible teamwork, gets to the root of the problem, so to speak. The jackhammer removed an eight-inch thickness of concrete in a 20-inch border around the interior walls. In precision bucket-brigade style, the crew removed the broken concrete in five gallon buckets up the basement stairs and out to the dump truck. It took 150 pails to remove all the broken concrete. In similar brigade fashion, washed river rock was carried down the stairs and into the basement in the same buckets to be spread in the cavity. River rock is rounded for water to pass over more readily.

A four-inch perforated tile, pitched so the water will flow to a sump pump, was the next step; it was covered with more rock. The rock and tile were capped with a sand mix, a type of concrete that is easier to level than standard concrete.

The second half of the operation was outdoors. The crew hand dug three feet down along an outside wall and sealed cracks with tar and plastic. A five-foot trench was dug leading to a French gravity well.

That s it, folks. Are you impressed that I paid attention? Now I am hoping for a downpour. You can believe I will spend rain time in the basement.

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