Since 1991, within our Hestand Associates group, we have had the privilege for performing work within our clients’ homes as both a NC Licensed Mechanical (H-3) and Commercial Plumbing (P-1) contractor, NC license #17153. In doing so, our work endeavors have taken us underneath a number of homes; many of which having less than acceptable crawlspace environments with regard to high humidity, wet or saturated interior sub-grade foundation walls, migratory water issues from exterior water, interior standing water, failed floor framing members (water), failed floor systems (termites – because of water), pier instability, topical molds & mildew, failed insulation – all of which could not and was not readily seen due to generally poor accessibility and/or lighting.
From our perspective (beyond the lack of general housekeeping); “water” - or more specifically, “wet soils” were more the issue. It was the water invasion that was running down the hill that was trying to pass through the home’s crawlspace that was causing the high humidity, that was causing the floor joists to bow negatively, that was causing the mold & mildew to grow, that was adding weight to the insulation and causing it to fall; and it was the water that you could not see (below visual grade) that was allowing the cement footings of the piers to sink – which was causing the girders of the floor system to settle, which was causing the hardwood or plywood joints to open in width and causing the doors and jambs not to be in alignment. Water!
Our thoughts were if we could stop the water from getting to the interior “island” soils; the humidity would go down, the dirt underneath the footings would be dry and thus, more stable. Once dry, the structural assembly of the girders could be placed back into “plane”. Not level, but back into a two-dimensional flat plane, established by the top of the exterior perimeter foundation walls.
And to think, without access and lighting, we could not have even been able to see what was going on?
Originally, our clean-up process (debris removal & vapor barrier) and lighting endeavors were goal oriented as our “means to an end” of being able to provide us a better work environment. And yes, along the way we had a few clients that moved forward with other structural work so as to get their home back into “plane”. But, for the most part, the costs of doing something under their home was just not something that anyone could validate, nor did they have budget to do.
However, as the years passed – and with the dreaded discovery of “black mold” and people’s sensitivities to their home’s health (or the home that were about to purchase) and how the possibility of a negative environment within their home could affect their family’s health – NOW making certain that there was no mold, no water, no humidity, improved insulation quality, improved air quality beneath their home; it ALL became more and more the accepted thing to do and too expect.
Enter here, the world of sealed crawlspace, waterproofing, drainage and mold mitigation removal contractors – in an unregulated industry where no license requirements are necessary, no third party inspections processes are required to assure that as well-meaning as the contractor was; he possibly could have missed something structurally that will more than likely not present as an issue for many years to come. With most contractors having the best of intentions and providing a completed product for what is felt as being the “best way”.
As we have often expressed; there at least a dozen different roads of travel to get to the local Mini-Mart grocery; and we each take our own different and preferred path based on the number of school zones, stop signs, and traffic patterns – with all being an acceptable way to travel to buy a loaf of bread. And, much like going to the store, each of “us” (as waterproofing professionals) has own different idea and validation of reason as to which waterproofing remedy may or may not be the best path to take with regard to waterproofing your home, bettering your home’s health, stabilizing your home’s structure or improving your home’s energy consumption and the comfort of your interior environment.
We clearly do not have all of the answers. However, being licensed as both a Plumbing and HVAC contractor, we feel comfortable that most of our processes have some sort of trades validation as to our assembly, as well as, our selection of materials; and enjoy an opportunity to explain (or from time to time, debate) with our clients as to why we feel that our selection of product and/or design of assembly is actually the “best plan” for their home’s resolve.
Hopefully, and in the end, having educated our clientele so that they too can make the best decision for their home and their family in choosing our processes of waterproofing, drainage control, structural resolutions and crawlspace environment resolutions.