Basement Health Association

Basement Waterproofing Problems In Your Home? (Confessions of a ‘classroom waterproofing salesman’)

What you are about to read is my story in the ‘Waterproofing Sales Business ’. Yes, I said sales business, because when I started, that’s what I was taught it was. Now, 35 years later, I am a waterproofing professional! As you read on, you will understand what I am mean.

So let’s get back to the water in your basement problem…

Attempting to find a solution should be easy, right? Just pick up the phone and call in one of the many waterproofing companies listed in the phone book or the internet and problem solved. You call the first company listed (the one with the biggest ad because you figure they must be good!), make an appointment and help is on the way. Little did you know, that you are about to experience the salesman from hell! That’s right, I said ‘salesman’!

 Who you thought was coming was a trained professional, with the experience and know-how to find where the water was coming into your finished basement, and how to fix it! Instead, as you open the door, in walks a neatly dressed, nice enough young man, big binder under his arm and a bag full of instruments. Great, you think as you begin to attempt to take him downstairs to show him the problem. Instead, he asks you where is a good place to sit down! Seems harmless enough, although the problem’s in the basement, not in your kitchen. You go along, as this is new to you and soon find yourself answering 20 questions, many of which have nothing to do with the water in your basement. What you don’t know is that this is also new to him as well. Following sales script he learned in the previous two week training course he just completed, you are his very first attempt to make his first waterproofing sale! Questions answered, you head down to the basement.


You show him an area along a rear, finished wall, where after a recent heavy rain, water has soaked the carpet under a window. Let me stop for a moment, and explain why before, I called myself a waterproofing professional. Here’s why. EXPERIENCE!

The first thing I would have done is look up, from the floor, to the window! I then ask if this happens every time or just sometimes, depending on the amount rain. I would have checked the actual window for signs of watermarks on the glass. If the window is in a well, are there signs that the window well filled up with water. If this were the case, the water can come thru the window framing, flow down the foundation wall, behind the finished wall, and doesn’t show itself except for the wet rug! Water source found, simple solution with a window well correction, problem solved! Right? Wrong!


Our ‘classroom sales rep’ sees the wet rug and announces he knows the answer!

 High Water Table! He didn’t ask if you have water anywhere else in your basement. He doesn’t go outside to look at the window well, in fact, he doesn’t even look at the window at all!  It’s back up to the kitchen table where you find out what that big binder was for. He begins a lengthy sales pitch, fully illustrated with 8x10 color glossy photos explaining why you are now in need of what is called a French Drain. He’s learned his lessons well, but the matter of fact is, he’s dead wrong! A French Drain is the solution for a high water table situation, but not in this case, where you have water entering the home from an overflowing window well.


After all he’s shown you, you’re now thinking this seems like a big job and probably expensive. He’s off to the basement to measure, then sits back down and out comes the calculator. He tells you, priced by the footage and number of sump pumps needed, finished wall removal, etc, etc, the final cost to you is $15,000! As you pick yourself up off the floor, you then inform our young friend, you’d like to think about it, maybe get another inspection, another estimate. He now thinks he has you right where he wants. Just like he’s been taught. He goes for the ‘killer close’. He informs you that if you sign on the dotted line today, they just happen to be finishing another job, right here in your neighborhood and can start tomorrow! He’ll even discount the price down to $12,000!

“That’s a $3000 savings!” he proudly says. You’re thinking, why didn’t I get that price to begin with?


So begins the alphabet march through the phone book, as one waterproofing ‘salesman’ after the other, offers their companies services, each trying to undersell your previous price quote (be smart and don’t tell). Maybe after a few weeks, perhaps months and a few rainstorms, in will walk a true ‘waterproofing professional’. He will be armed with the knowledge, experience, ethics and truth to not only solve your waterproofing problem, but also save you time, your basement and your money.


You see, I was that young, 25 year old kid, straight out of the classroom, without a clue, straight into your home. I’ve been let go (fired is more like it) from more than a few companies for failing to follow company line as to sales presentations using high pressured and underhanded sales tricks. I wanted to be proud of the company I represented (and I am), not a shill to fill company coffers by scamming homeowners.


So remember, when that doorbell rings, hope that the guy on the other side is a pro.

Until next time,

Ken Paresi

AM Shield Waterproofing


Truth & Ethics from a company you can trust.

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Comment by U.S. Waterproofing on April 9, 2012 at 11:28pm

Great article Ken.  Looks like you are one of the good guys.   I'm new to, but certainly not new to basement waterproofing.  We are a 3rd generation family owned business serving Chicagoland since 1957.  I wrote a couple blogs a few months ago I thought you might enjoy:

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Comment by Melissa Morton on January 31, 2011 at 11:58pm

I like it. Nice job!

Comment by Todd Terbrock on January 31, 2011 at 2:40pm
Good stuff Ken.

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