Early morning TV viewers in Portland, Maine, sooner or later will meet Tony Hafford, founder of T.C. Hafford Basement Systems. The affable pitchman stands beneath an oversized umbrella and promotes a business devoted to “all things basementy.” Hafford is one of hundreds, maybe thousands, of specialists around the country who have made careers out of rehabbing wet, moldy basements and crawlspaces. But few in the business would argue that even a successful retrofit is better than keeping water out of the basement in the first place.
“It’s always better to treat the exterior,” says Peter Barrett, product and marketing manager for Dörken Systems Inc., which makes a variety of waterproofing products. “It’s always better to try to keep the water out of the system than manage the water once it gets into the system.”
Expectations for below-ground spaces continue to rise, as building scientist John Straube points out in this webinar at Dörken’s website. Homeowners at one time expected their basements to be wet once in a while. Who cared? They were used mainly for storing coal and potatoes. That’s s no longer the case. Basements are increasingly becoming in-law suites, man caves and home theaters where finish materials rival those in above-grade parts of the house, Straube says. And for that, any amount of water is a potentially serious problem.
Products and techniques for managing water infiltration go far beyond the buckets of asphaltic goop that builders spread on below-grade portions of foundation walls. Although that’s still a common approach for dampproofing foundations, builders also will find a range of other products, from peel-and-stick waterproofing membranes to liquid-applied synthetic rubber designed to span cracks in the concrete that are bound to develop in time.
When builders combine these products with below-grade…