Cookie-Cutter Waterproofing Systems Don’t Work

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When deciding between interior waterproofing systems, be cautious of cookie-cutter designs. Different factors come into play when deciding what type of waterproofing system to put into your basement. What kind of foundation do you have? How wide is the footing? How thick is your basement floor?

NOTE: Your contractor will not honestly know the absolute thickness of the floor and width of the footing until he removes the first piece of the basement floor to install drainage.

Non-Standard Foundations

You have to get the right match. Don’t lock yourself into any cookie-cutter waterproofing systems. They don’t work well in most foundations and are hardly adaptable to wide footers and thick floors. Once a cookie-cutter waterproofing contractor opens up your floor and finds that your foundation is constructed non-standard, they will work around it.

3-piece foundation before a waterproofing system installation.

NOTE: Cookie-cutter waterproofing systems work around the restrictions and code-compliance by making compromises.

A standard foundation has a 16-inch wide footing and an 8-inch wall. If you sit the 8-inch wall in the center of a 16-inch footing, you have a 4-inch ledge on the outside… It’s not the vital side, but the ledge on the inside is what’s important. The floor is poured, so it goes over and sits on top of that 4-inch ledge.

If drainage is sitting on the footing, compare it against the thickness of a 5 to 6 inches floor. A cookie-cutter gutter-like waterproofing system doesn’t work because the floor thickness matches or supersedes the height of the system’s drainage. In this case, the gutter-like system must be installed above the footing, so the system flange can remain exposed after the floor is replaced on top of it with cement.

Watch our YouTube video about why cookie-cutter waterproofing systems are trouble.

NOTE: American Dry Basement Systems installers find thick basement floors in 25% of customers’ homes.

Loose stone is placed on top of the footing. The gutter-like drainage is placed on top of the stone. The system will be elevated high enough to expose the system’s top flange after the floor is replaced. Water runs freely over the footing, underneath the system, and through stone to flood the area beneath the floor. The water must flood the entire area beneath the basement floor and within the floor’s depth before the gutter waterproofing system catches it.

Foundation Support is Lost

Remember that installing an overflow system will require removing your floor from the foundation’s footing. Whatever support is beneath the floor (aggregate and backfill soil) will be the only thing holding up your floor. It is a hefty floor. It is common for unsupported basement floors to sink, crack and shift in the backfill soil beneath them.

The simple fact that a gutter-like system requires water to fill the area beneath your floor before reaching the system will erode, shift, and displace the backfill soil faster than ever before. The hydrostatic pressure outside your basement walls must reach a tremendous amount of water in your soil to push water underneath your floor. Don’t be surprised if the walls start cracking from hydrostatic pressure on the outside. Cyclical force placed on the outside walls, rainstorm after rainstorm, will crack sooner without any code-compliant floor support on the footing.


We don’t believe in the one-size-fits-all. Cookie-cutter waterproofing systems are designed for quick installation, high returns, and no results. Afterward, they will tag you with service contracts to maintain your system. You will keep paying for it long after the installation.

American Dry Basement Systems always expects the unexpected by using customization. Our perimeter waterproofing system installation works in any foundation (poured concrete, block, stone (rubble), and monopour) because our products are adaptable to extreme situations. It takes hard work, dedication, and years of experience to get it right. We always have the correct installation strategy for your particular basement.

A home is the number one investment we make in our lifetime. Make sure it is a healthy and safe environment by maintaining a robust dry foundation. The rest of your house and family will thank you for it.

Are you looking for a customized waterproofing system to give you excellent results? Get in touch with American Dry Basement Systems.

Schedule a free, no-obligation inspection and quote at no cost.