Many older homes have below grade basements or cellars, which serves as housing for the utility system and occasional storage. Mildew, mold and occasional water seepage often inhabit these older homes. Waterproofing contractors tend to prey on the fear and ignorance of home owners who experience seeping into their basements. This accounts for why so many expensive and inappropriate systems are installed to "cure" the water problems.
It is estimated that more than 90% of the basement water seepage is due to inadequate roof and yard runoff controls. Those waters are a surface source which builds up hydrostatic pressure the deeper into the soil it seeps. When you have a surface water problem, the cure usually has all to do with surface water controls.
It is actually rare when water rises up from beneath a basement to seep into it. Aquifers, which are usually large reservoirs of water down deep in the ground, tend to rise and fall very slowly with rainy weather or droughts. When a dewatering system is installed without mitigating surface water sources, the worst case long term result can be complete foundation failure. The early warning signs for such a horrible event are often foundation cracking, etc.
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The basement has also evolved into a more social gathering living area. As the lowest floor in a building or home, the basement or cellar was a cool, dark space. People were never intended to live in cellars. However, we now find basements with "man caves", theater rooms, pool tables, and bars. We live in our basements, we need them to be comfortable, conditioned space. Cellars were just the opposite. Cellars got wet, they were damp. We didn't care. Cellars were made of rock, brick, or stone. Crawlspaces were even worse; these were deemed unconditioned space. We can use cellars or some "better" crawlspaces as areas for storage, but we could not live in this space. Nonetheless, crawlspaces and basements have both become valuable real estate used for storage, to locate mechanical systems or to add living space. With guidance, these spaces can prove to be useful to any homeowner.