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IS ALL WATERPROOFING THE SAME? Here are some things you need to KNOW.

May 7th, 2012 by The Waterproofer

Most homeowners know very little about basement waterproofing. This is not surprising – waterproofing generally has a very long life span and is rarely seen. Usually the first time anyone thinks about waterproofing is when their basement starts to leak. So how do you know who to hire to waterproof your basement?
Most homeowners with wet basements will Google ”basement waterproofing”, “waterproofing” or some similar search and will look at a number of websites. How do you select one waterproofer over another? Most homeowners will call two or three companies give an estimate and often the will choose the lowest one, believing that the process is all the same. But not all waterproofing companies, or waterproofing jobs, are the same. Before hiring a company to complete your basement waterproofing make sure you know what you are getting and who you are getting. Here are a few tips to help you choose a waterproofing company:
1. Who will be doing the work?
Many companies use sub trades to complete the work. This means the company that you are hiring is not the company that will be completing the work. The company you hire sells the job off to another company that has no relationship with you – and may even not be working with the company you hired as soon as they finish your job. The sub-trade may have little reason to do a professional job or make sure that the products are applied correctly. Their motivation is to do the job as cheaply and quickly as possible, and let’s face it – their reputation is not going to be damaged if the job is done poorly. So make sure you ask whether the company will be performing the work itself (i.e., – with its own employees) or selling the job off to a sub-trade.
2. Will top-grade waterproofing materials be used?
Not all foundation coatings are the same. There are many black, asphalt-based foundation coatings on the market and they differ greatly in terms of performance and cost.
For example, there is a product call Black Knight foundation coating which is sold at Home Depot for $35 for a 25L pail which will cover over 500 square feet of foundation. By contrast, a similar looking product called Aqua Block is also sold at Home Depot but costs $154 for a 25L pail which will only cover up to 100 square feet of foundation. Your contractor would require five 25L pails of Aqua Block to cover the same amount of foundation as one pail of the Black Knight product and it would cost him $735 more. The two products look very similar when applied to a foundation, but they perform very differently. Aqua Block is a far superior product in terms of protecting your foundation from water penetration. So make sure you ask which waterproofing materials the contractor uses.
3. Will the company take the time to do it right?
Some waterproofing companies price a job low and depend on rushing through to make it profitable. There are a lot of “shortcuts” that can speed up a basement waterproofing job, but those shortcuts may not be in the homeowners’ best interest.

For example, before applying the foundation coating the basement walls must be thoroughly cleaned, as waterproofing coating applied to a dirty surface tends to perform poorly. Cleaning the walls takes time and requires attention to detail. Another example – some foundation coatings need to “cure” for 24 hours before being covered with drainage membrane and backfilled. Not all companies are willing to take this time – if they have priced a job low, they need to get in, get out and get their money. Some companies will only machine-dig a job, which is faster, and therefore cheaper, than hand-digging, but may end up damaging your property (or your neighbours) by using the machine too close to your walls, fences, walkways, etc. So make sure you ask what areas the contractor is planning to hand-dig, and how the time on the job will be allocated.
In summary, by asking a few simple questions of your prospective contractor you can find out much of what you need to know to evaluate different quotes and ensure you hire a contractor who will do the best job for you.
• KNOW who will actually be doing to work.
• KNOW that top-grade materials will be used on your job.
• KNOW that your contractor will take the time necessary to do the job right.

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Do I need to waterproof before listing my house?

April 27th, 2012 by The Waterproofer

Basement waterproofing can be an expensive repair that needs to be completed on a home. As a house ages, so does its waterproofing. It has a life expectancy the same way that a roof, windows or a furnace does. The difference with waterproofing is that the life expectancy is much longer than other home repairs and replacements. People tend not to think about the condition of the waterproofing until the problem becomes very noticeable. Preventative work on the foundation of homes rarely happens. When selling a house this may be the reason a buyer makes an offer on someone else house and not yours.
This week I was contacted by two separate real estate representatives to discuss waterproofing on homes. One agent had just had a conditional offer withdrawn because a buyer’s home inspector detected moisture in the basement. When we came out to investigate, after the deal had fallen through, we found that one wall of the basement needed to be repaired at a cost of $3800. The real estate agent told me that the conditional buyer though the repair would be “tens of thousands of dollars” and was not prepared to pay that much. The second real estate representative contacted me to investigate moisture in a house that her buyer had a conditional offer on. We investigated and determined that the whole of the basement foundation would need to be waterproofed and we provided a quote for the repairs. The purchaser was happy because the quote was far less than they had expected and they withdrew their conditions.
People purchasing houses are starting to check to see if waterproofing has been updated on houses that they wish to purchase. Agents and home inspectors are starting to ask more and more questions about foundations. If you house has gotten to the age that waterproofing would be expected to fail you can call us and we will inspect and investigate the condition of your waterproofing. When selling it is an asset to be able to tell buyers that the waterproofing has been updated or inspected and found to be functioning correctly.

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Pushy salesmen

April 16th, 2012 by The Waterproofer

This is not really about basement waterproofing but I wanted to write about it.

This year we had a booth at the Toronto Home show to promote our business. During the show many salespeople came by our booth to talk to us about their products. I always enjoy the Home Show because I like to find out what is new in the home renovation and construction industries. I take the time to look for new and innovative companies that may make what we do better for our waterproofing customers.
The down side to the home show is the salespersons who walk around the show trying to sell advertising or listings on their web directories. I am polite to them and will listen to what they are offering. Often I tell them that their product is not for us and thank them for their time. These salesperson will not take no for an answer.
Since the Toronto Home show has ended I have had several people who continue to call despite my polite attempts to tell them that I am not interested. I do not respond well to the hard sell. What I would like them to is give me information and then let me think about it. I would be more likely to buy their products if I did not feel pushed into it.
When I am “selling “ to customers who have come to us, I consider it my job to first and foremost give them information. I investigate what is happening in their basements and give them the best advice I have. Often what we do at the waterproofer may not be what the customer needs and I try to lead them in the right direction by offering another trade that could solve their problem. I never try to hard sell them which I think is appreciated.
One company that I have been doing business with is Homestars.ca. They offer a service where my customers can go and write a review about our company. The salesperson that deals with my account is Jessica Sugar. Right from the start she helped me with my needs and question rather than trying to sell me their service.Hats off to Homestars.ca

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Why you should check references.

April 13th, 2012 by The Waterproofer

I have just come from a home in Scarborough that called me about a leak in their basement. The home owner said they called us because we are a Renomark renovator. She said that her father told her to call a company that was a BILD member ( the former Toronto Home Builder Association) and a Renomark contractor. They had just finished a renovation of a bathroom and had had a horrible experience and admitted that they did not check or ask for references. It turned out that the leak was a drain issue and not a waterproofing. I was happy to give the owner the name of an excellent drain company, Drain Relief. Always ask for references. If a company is reluctant to give any you should look for another contractor.

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Do leaking basements fix themselves?

April 11th, 2012 by The Waterproofer

The winter is Ontario this year has been very atypical. Skiing in the north started very late and ended very early. Ice on the lakes left earlier than any other time on record. Some lakes Muskoka failed to completely freeze for the first time in living memory. Very little snow fell in Toronto and did not last long. For the first time I can remember I saw home owners in Leaside and North York watering their lawns in early April.
The precipitation during February, March and the first week of April this year is at a record low level. During Febuary and March the average precipitation is about 135mm of rain on average. This February and March only 34 mm of precipitation was recorded in Toronto. The soil around foundations is bone dry and the water table is very low.
This spring we have been seeing customers that have had leaks in their basements in the past. We have heard from many customers that their basements did not leak this spring and they ask could the problem with the waterproofing have gone away.
If a basement has leaked in the past it will leak again in the future. The conditions around a foundation that has leaked will return with the spring rains as sure as spring follows winter. Cracks, blocked weeping tiles and failing waterproofing never get better with age. As I have told our customers the only thing that gets better with age is wine and cheese.

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Do you need basement waterproofing – or do you NOT need basement waterproofing?

April 8th, 2012 by The Waterproofer

When we are called to a house to give a quote on basement waterproofing the first thing we do is determine the scope of work and whether or not basement waterproofing is needed. We use moisture meters, thermal imaging cameras and scopes to determine what may be causing the moisture problems in the basement. Giving a quote is the result of investigating the cause of the problem.
In the past few weeks, we have been in four basements that have not needed waterproofing. Our investigations, using thermal imaging and moisture meters, found three leaking waste pipes and one leaking water pipe. We told the customers that they needed a plumber and that the repairs were very minor. And as always, we did not charge for our consultation.
The surprising thing was, all four houses had already received quotes from other waterproofing companies in the area and all of these companies (after minimal investigation) told the customers that they need extensive waterproofing. None of the companies used anything more sophisticated than a flashlight and a quote pad to “determine the needs of the home owner”. Waterproofing these four basements would not have solved any of the homeowners’ problems.
Homeowners have been told to get multiple quotes when having work done. When hiring any basement waterproofing contractor in Toronto the customer should be asking many questions. What is causing the water problems? How is what is being proposed going to address this problem? Could it be caused by some other source? How are you determining the cause? What are my options?
By using sophisticated tools The Waterproofer is able to accurately determine the scope of work that is needed.

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It is time to clean out your eves troughs

April 5th, 2012 by The Waterproofer

No one likes to clean out their eves troughs and make sure that they are in good shape. It is a dirty job that is out of sight and can easily be put off. It is the number one preventative thing you can do to keep water out of your basement. If your waterproofing is reaching the end of its life cycle, you may be able to put off waterproofing for a period of time by managing the water coming off of your roof. An average size roof will shed 500-1000 gallons of water when one inch of rain falls. Don’t put this work off. It is much harder to clean water up out of the basement and have to repair all the damage that will occur than spend an hour or two cleaning the eves.

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Ask questions of your contractor

March 24th, 2012 by The Waterproofer

We have been at the Toronto Home Show for the past week and have talked to hundreds of people. I am very happy to see that people are now asking questions about the contractors they hire. Does the company have WSIB insurance? Does the company sub contract out the work or is the work completed by company trained professionals? Ask questions and look for referrals. Look what is being written online about them. Spend the time to get the right company that fits with you. Make sure that the company invests in the latest equipment and training.
While at the home show The Waterproofer has tried to educate consumers about the correct way to waterproof basements and to always ask questions. The only dumb question is the one not asked.

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Spring is here

March 22nd, 2012 by The Waterproofer

Once again the waterproofing season is upon us. With little snow and a very dry winter home owners have not been experiencing the normal spring basement water problems. Once the spring rain start the soil that is against the foundation will have difficulty absorbing the rain. The soil is like a dry sponge right now. If we get heavy intense rain the soil will act like a dried sponge. It will take some time to start to absorb the water. Any leaks or cracks in the foundation will become evident very quickly. If your basement has leaked in previous winters and not this year don’t expect that the problem has gone away. Other than wine, not many things get better with age.

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Water problems in Leaside and North Toronto bungalow top ups.

October 2nd, 2011 by The Waterproofer

We are see a marked increase in “new” homes in Leaside and North Toronto developing leaking basements and mold problems. People are buying “new” homes in these areas which are actually renovations to pre-war bungalows. The builder purchases a bungalow and removes all but two exterior walls and the foundation and completely rebuilds the house. The problem arises because many of the builders are not waterproofing the existing 60-70 year old foundations. They then completely finish the basements with drywall, trim, carpeting etc.. These are all of the organic materials that mold loves. The new owners after a period of time find that the basement smells of mold and they call us in. We thermal image the walls and find that the basement waterproofing is failing. The home owners are always surprised because they have a “new” home. Unfortunately the “new” home is on a 60-70 year old foundation that has blocked weeping tiles, cracks in the foundation and little or no waterproofing membrane left.
Not only does the foundation leak but the drywall, carpet etc. starts to grow mold. The mold remediation companies have to remove the new drywall and carpet so that the rest of the house does not get contaminated with the mold spores. Your “new” house now needs costly renovations to the basement as well as waterproofing. The cost to remove that mold contamination in the basement can also be costly.
If you are purchasing a “new” home make sure to ask the builder if he has waterproofed the existing foundation. If the foundation has not been waterproofed you may want to factor in the cost of doing so when you purchase the house.

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