December 29, 2006, Newsletter Issue #44: Waterproofing below grade

Tip of the Week

Despite what you may think, Below Grade Waterproofing has nothing to do with the quality of material or workmanship. It simply refers to waterproofing applied to that part of a building foundation that is below ground level. There is positive waterproofing and negative waterproofing which, again, are not value judgements. Positive waterproofing is applied on the side of the foundation at the source of the water and negative waterproofing is on the opposite side. Here are a few more below grade waterproofing factoids you can spring on your friends at your next engineering trivia challenge: Always apply a sample area to determine coverage and effectiveness. Dampproofing is the treatment of a surface to retard moisture absorption when there is no hydrostatic pressure. Waterproofing is the treatment of a surface to prevent the passage of water when there is hydrostatic pressure. Asphalt dampproofing will break down under UV and microbiological activity. It will become brittle, and crack with age (Don't we all?) Every building should have a grading and landscaping plan that provides control of all surface water on a lot. Surface water has to be able to drain away from the house and foundation walls on all sides. All foundations need a footing drain that runs uninterrupted around the entire perimeter of the foundation. Expansive soils are clays that absorb moisture and can crack or collapse all but the strongest walls and floors. This is why expansive soil is generally removed and replaced by a backfill material consisting of soil or gravel that do not expand when wet.

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