Having a full assessment is the wisest move. Stories are rampant of building owners who have paid for extensive and expensive waterproofing systems … only to find that by making other water-control repairs they could have avoided installation of such a system.

Needed gutter repairs is a great example: The rainwater pours off the roof, around and through the deteriorating gutter system, down the foundation  wall of the building and right into the newly installed French drains. However, if the gutters had been repaired, the need for the French drains would have been eliminated.

In performing a full assessment, all sources of water are being identified, whether they are coming from landscaping issues, issues with the exterior systems of the building, or issues with the interior systems of the building. A full assessment would start with a visual walk-through of the interior, inspecting any suspect items or areas (like plumbing) that could be a source of water entry, noting areas of concern, and taking pictures where possible. The more information one has the better. All the information will be used in developing a permanent water-control plan.

This would then be followed by a visual walk-about of the entire exterior of the building and its surrounding landscape. Possible concerns noted in a visual walk-through of the interior would include:

  • Cracks in the walls and floors.
  • Peeling paint and efflorescence.
  • Movement in the foundation or footings.
  • Water intrusions in the walls and floors.
  • Buckled or bowed walls.
  • Sump-pump issues.
  • Hydrostatic pressure or high-water table indicators.
  • Visible mold.
  • Leaking pipes.
  • Water stains.

The exterior assessment would begin with identifying any issues with landscaping and grading, drainage, gutter, downspout, roofing, or windows.

When performing a full investigation, personal safety should be considered, especially in older buildings were there could be issues with electrical wiring, mechanical systems, deteriorating asbestos-containing material, or hazardous material storage. In all buildings, radon exposure should be a concern as well. In both crawl spaces and unoccupied basements, be weary of animal and insect infestations, feces and other animal waste. Precautions should be taken to protect the person(s) performing the assessment.

All of the information gathered is then reviewed and an action plan is established. The action plan may encompass a process of making repairs and then determining if those repairs were enough to eliminate the water problem. When all repairs have been made and one finds that the water has not been controlled, it is then time to move to a water-control system, aka waterproofing.

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