On our sister website www.basementhealth.org, there is a forum where homeowners and contractors can talk and discuss issues within the industry.
There was a discussion about closed vs. open drainage waterproofing systems. For decades, it was common practice to install an open drainage system. Now, we have learned that open drainage systems are a pathway for radon and soil gases, bugs, and more moisture. Homes with open drainage systems also tend to have more problems with mold, high humidity, iron bacteria and higher heating and cooling costs. Stack effect pulls ground moisture and soil gases up into the living space through an open drainage system.
Some of our members shared their experiences.
Steve Andras, BHA contractor and supplier member, from Westport MA, says after 22 years of installing open channel basement drainage systems, he decided to only offer closed systems.
“This decision was not an easy one because that is the way I always done it,” he says. Andras says he came to the decision because of all the benefits the homeowner sees with a closed drainage system. “What else can I say? My vote is that all basement drainage systems be closed if we really care about our customers. Some contractors will leave the decision to the homeowner but I feel that my job after 30 years is to protect my customers from themselves. Why would I let them decide what is best for them if I am a true professional – After all my customers look to me as the expert.”
Nick LaBansky, a BHA contractor member from McFarland, WI, says once he learned that an open drainage system could lead to potential radon problems he decided to always do what was right for the customer even if it costs him the job.
“Last summer I met a family who had basement water problems along with radon,” LaBansky says. “I quoted a closed drainage system and had a radon company quote the radon system. Well, we lost the job to a company who offers an open drainage system and radon mitigation. The family chose them because of price and because it would be a one stop shop. I received a call last week from the radon company I had quote the job and the family called him because the radon level was still just as high and they wished they had gone with Dry Otter. A CLOSED system is worth every penny!!”
Another BHA supplier member, Scott Nordhoff also agrees with a closed system. “The tighter the system the easier it is to draw out the radon,” he says. “We have also noticed a huge decrease in moisture content in the system as well as better radon draw with our closed system.”