“Once you bring in a backhoe and start ripping up landscaping and concrete, the cost of ensuring the waterproofing materials were applied correctly will seem nominal.”

Those words of wisdom are from John D’Annunzio, president of Paragon Roofing Technology, who has been a building consultant for more than 25 years.

D’Annunzio has investigated a lot of waterproofing failures over the years, and he points to three key factors when it comes to waterproofing problems:

  1. Poor workmanship.“The vast majority of problems I’ve seen are due to application errors,” he said. “The most common trouble spots are at details and penetrations.”
  2. Lack of oversight.“Often theses errors aren’t caught because the installations aren’t being adequately inspected,” he said. “Unlike other phases of construction — roofing, for example — we don’t see enough oversight when it comes to waterproofing applications.”
  3. Inadequate design details. “Manufacturers often do not provide specific details for every type of application, leaving designers to rely on general language in the documents, which can be subject to misinterpretation.”

In many cases, D’Annunzio’s failure investigations determined the waterproofing materials were never even applied — the area was backfilled before the waterproofers had done their job. These types of application errors might not be the fault of the designer, but that won’t be apparent when the water begins pouring through the basement walls.

The key is preventing these types of problems in the first place — and that takes communication. “It’s in everyone’s interest to make sure all the parties are communicating and that the work is completed in accordance with the design requirements,” D’Annunzio said.

It also takes through knowledge of the code requirements. To learn more about the topic, register for the free ARW University webinar, “Waterproofing Design By Code Requirements,” which will air live on Sept. 17 and be available on demand after that date. For more information or to register, just click here: