Drain Tile System

I use four-inch, schedule twenty perforated pipe in a trench next to the footing. The trench is normally about ten inches deep and twelve inches wide, lined with a non-biodegradable filter and surrounded by plenty of rock for drainage. My system also has a piece of PVC sheeting attached to the wall with neoprene rivets. This sheeting controls the water flowing from the weep holes behind it and guides it to the trench. The sheeting can be installed all the way up the walls for a semi-finished, maintenance-free wall.

The system is normally a continuous loop around the entire perimeter of the foundation, draining to a sump pit and pump. The pump pushes the water through a one-and-a-half inch PVC pipe to a location far enough away that it doesn't reenter the foundation. This system not only drains the water out of the walls and lowers the water table under the floor, it also helps dry out the soil outside, preventing the freezing and heaving which destroys foundations.

All of the materials used in this system are purchased locally. I have been installing this same system since I started the business in 1994. Our drain tile system meets or exceeds all local building codes. Not all systems are designed to meet building code. Some systems are designed for low overhead, easy installation, and high profit. In my opinion, companies who install these lesser systems are in the business of making money, not fixing basements.

Pits, Pumps, and Exit Lines

I use pits that are made from thick, recycled plastic which holds its shape when installed. The pits have smooth sides that do not interfere with the switch float on the pumps. I drill my own holes in them and tie the drain tile in with a four-inch hole saw. I perforate the pit so that water can seep in from all directions. The pits have a one-piece lid that can be sealed if you need a radon mitigation system. These pits are also deep enough to hold two pumps and lower the water table under the floor.

Drain tile doesn't do any good if the pump fails. I use the best pumps I have found. I have been installing Zoeller pumps since 1989 with great success. Zoeller makes different sized pumps for a variety of situations. I normally install a Zoeller M53 one-third horsepower pump. Zoeller also makes a great little battery backup pump for when the electricity goes out. The combination of these two pumps gives you peace of mind and confidence that your pump will work even if the power goes out. As long as your pump is working, your system will work.

Exit lines are normally one-and-a-half-inch PVC pipe buried far enough away from the house that the water will not reenter the foundation. I install a vent and a tee where the pipe exits the foundation. This vent allows air to get into the pipe so that the water can flow freely from the exit line. I always discuss the exit line with the customer and come up with a workable solution.

Structural Supports

I call them structural supports because the way I install them they support the entire structure. I do not believe that any type of wall brace will do any good. When there is wet soil on the outside of the house, freezing, it must expand as it freezes. This moves the wall inward slightly and will allow it to move back a tiny bit when the ground thaws. This is the same way sidewalks and driveways raise up and lower with freezing and thawing.

There is approximately ten thousand pounds per square inch of pressure pushing on the wall when the saturated soil outside freezes and expands. This means many tons of pressure moving the wall. If you were to install a brace that would not move, the rest of the wall would break apart around the brace. The key is to eliminate the water which causes the expansion when freezing. If you dry up the soil on the outside, it cannot freeze and move the wall. This is where our interior drain tile works. With a good drain tile system on the inside, the soil outside can drain and dry out, eliminating the problem.

If structural supports are needed, I install them so they support the floor joists and prevent the structure from sagging. They also take the weight off of the foundation walls. In my opinion, most so-called wall-brace systems are little more than a scam to take your money.

Radon Mitigation

Way back in the early nineties, when radon gas was beginning to enter the public awareness, I went to Ohio and took a course on radon gas measurement and mitigation. Because radon comes from soil underneath the basement floor, I thought it would be a good idea to educate myself, since I am constantly exposed to this as I break out basement floors. What I learned was that the continuous loop drain tile system that I install is the best radon mitigation system there is. I can install a tee somewhere in the drain tile system for attaching a radon mitigation fan. This makes radon mitigation very easy if needed.

Windows and Egresses

I install double-pane, vinyl windows that are a nice upgrade. These windows are mortared in, just like the original windows. No wood shims with gobs of caulk in an attempt to make them fit. I also offer egress windows that can be used to escape in case of a fire. If your basement is waterproofed, finished, and has an egress window, it can be considered livable space and is worth much more if you sell or refinance your home. Egress windows also allow more light to enter, making it feel less like a basement. I offer discounts on egress windows if I am already waterproofing your basement.