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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Over the decades, basements have evolved into a social gathering/living area. Unfortunately, from a design perspective, people were never intended to live in, what amounts to, a cellar. As the lowest floor in a building or home, the basement or cellar is a cool, dark space. However, today the desire for "man caves", theatre rooms, pool tables, and bars supercede the practical difficulties. We now live in our basements, we need them to be comfortable, conditioned spaces. Cellars are just the opposite - made of rock, brick, or stone, cellars are meant to be wet and damp. Crawl spaces are even worse in those regards, essentially existing as unconditioned spaces. Cellars, as well as some types of crawl spaces, have become valuable real estate for storage and mechanical systems, if not living space
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