Interview with The Basement Kings – Texas Basement Waterproofing
Hello and welcome to the Basement Waterproofing Near Me podcast. If you are looking for basement waterproofing in Dallas, Texas, San Antonio, Texas, Houston, Texas, Amarillo, Texas, All of Texas or most of Oklahoma, you gotta to listen to today’s podcast. This guy literally wrote the book on basements and basement waterproofing. His name is Willie King Jr. with The Basement Kings. So without further ado, let’s listen to the call.
By the way did you see my book online?
Yeah I saw that. I was going to ask you.
I got a pretty good response.
Do you have that on Amazon or is it just on your website?
Oh no, it is on Amazon, Barnes and Noble. It is sold in about 50 different bookstores around the world. I’ve even sold some books in Israel.
Oh awesome. Very cool.
I know that’s what I said. I did it just for Texas.
Yeah awesome. We are recording now and I am going to ask you some questions. How did you get started in basement waterproofing? What’s your history? I read a little bit about you on your website and stuff but…
I am a third generation pool builder. My father and my uncle, which my father is there are 22 kids in his family, so my father’s brother was almost as old as most people’s father. He started in the swimming pool business. He trained my father and my father was training me. When I was about, I remember going out to the job with my dad when I was 9, and when I was 9 that was the summer when I started working with my father. All the time and when I wasn’t in school, I was with my father out on the job.
My father was a specialty builder. My father didn’t just do one job. What he did was, my father would go to a company site and then train hot pick-up laborers and guys that were working for the company and trained everybody a job. Either be a guy who is shooting a concrete as a novelman, the guy who’s going to be finishing, the guy going to be doing the steps, the guy who is throwing out what we call the rebine, all the extra concrete and spillage. Everybody’s job my father trained every individual guy what his job was going to be. And then they would start building swimming pools all summer long and then at the end of the summer or the next year somebody would offer my father more money and my father would leave and we would move. For a while I thought I was part of a military family with as often as we moved.
We started off in California and ended up in Burlington, Massachusetts and Boston, and then Nashua, New Hampshire and Connecticut and then we started travelling back to California and my father got hired here in Texas. After we stayed here in Texas, the companies here took turns in paying my father to stay here until he retired. After while we were putting in swimming pools there were basements here in Texas that were leaking and nobody knew how to fix them. Since my father was already doing some minor repairs with swimming pools, they started calling my father and he started going out repairing a lot of those swimming pools that were leaking. Of course, he drug his son along, which was me.
How many years ago was that?
Oh man, about 20 about 30 a little more than 30 years ago. I remember out on the job and my father was patching a couple of swimming pools. When I graduated from college in 1992, the second time, I graduated and I was supposed to take over the family business. I was building; I wanted to build my first home. I couldn’t find any builder to build a basement. They were all trying to convince me of all the reasons that we couldn’t put in a basement. I knew it was all false because we had been putting in swimming pools for 40 years, in Texas! They would say the soil was too hard. Well if the soil was too hard, we couldn’t put in a swimming pool. They would tell us the soil was so bad that it was going to crack. Well none of our swimming pools were cracking. I knew it all was garbage. When I had one guy out explaining to me that the reason they didn’t do basements in Texas was because of the tectonic plates, I knew that I had found a niche because none of these guys had a clue what they were talking about. What I did was, I drew up my first basement. I built my first, I designed it and engineered and built my first basement in part of North Dallas. When I finished the basement all these builders showed up and started giving me their business cards. The next day, I knew that rather than anything else, I was not going to be doing swimming pools, I was going to be doing basements. From then on, I’ve been designing, engineering and waterproofing. I’ve always researched what is the best method to waterproof. I have used every method out there to waterproof a basement. Now we’ve come, we have, we devised our own method combined with another method. Now we can guarantee that when we waterproof a wall that it is not going to leak. When we seal that wall we can guarantee that it will be dry on the inside that basement for the life of that basement. We are the only ones in Texas that can do it.
Do you have that warranty pass on to the next home owner? Is there like a lifetime?
We call it a lifetime transferable warranty.
Awesome. Do you find yourself doing more basement repairs than waterproofing or do you find yourself building more basements? Are these, I am assuming its mostly for newer homes or do you get older homes as well? I know here..
We have done everything under the sun. We have added a basement to an existing house. We have enlarged a basement on an existing house. And we have added a basement to a 120 year old house that had nothing on it structure wise. We added a full size basement that was larger than the general full print of the house to that location. I guess we can say we’ve added a larger basement to the interior footprint of the house. We do it two ways.
What do you find yourself doing the most of: basement waterproofing or constructing basements?
Well, when we first started, we were constructing more basements than anything else. Now that a lot of people know who we are and what we do. We are waterproofing and repairing basements more than anything else. I’d say now basic waterproofing and repairing basements is about 75% of our business.
There aren’t a ton of basements in Texas. Your service area is not just Texas you go into all of Oklahoma or just part of Oklahoma?
Well we service most of Oklahoma but what we find now is that there is more basements than you can imagine in Texas. What most people don’t realize is that the majority of the basements that were built in Texas were built past 20 years ago. When you go past 25 – 30 years ago, an average basement, I mean an average home that was built outside of town, outside on farming areas and a lot of other communities, they built a basement on top of that house, I mean below that house. There’s communities, right now I am in Houston driving, and I just and I am here in a community where there is 30 basements, in this just one small community. There’s more basements than you can imagine in the state of Texas. Since we serve all of Texas, we see ‘em built every way that you can possibly imagine. We call it the Wild West the way the average basement was built in Texas. There’s a lot of basements in Texas.
So you come across mostly cinderblock basements in Texas or the ones that you’re waterproofing?
It depends on where you are in Texas you are in. If it’s part of North Dallas, then it is poured walls. When you go further the south of Texas they are all primarily cinder block. And cinder block leaks faster and more than any other type of basement that you are going to find. Our method, we repair a cinder block wall just as easily as a poured wall.
Can you tell us about your method or is it like your “secret sauce” that you can’t share?
No, the way we do it is proprietary, but our method is pretty simple. The first thing we do is, let’s say somebody calls us, they have a leaking basement. We can repair that basement no matter how bad it is. It doesn’t matter how the the humidity, a wall caving in, it doesn’t matter. If the wall is caving in, we will redo the wall that is caving in and tie it to the existing wall. Then, if there’s any cracks or holes in that basement, we repair the walls. Then we waterproof. What we find is 75% of the walls that we see in Texas, they’ve already made the mistake of going out and buying the paint waterproofing type of method. They paint them and they are white. They think it is waterproofed. What they failed to do is read the container. The container says that is a sealer or it tells them it is a damp proofer. In the sub notes it will say, “Does not work under hydro static pressure” which just told you that it doesn’t leak, I mean it doesn’t repair leaks. Because if it’s a basement any type of leak you have is hydro static pressure. Which means that when you put this material on the wall, if it’s leaking it is not going to stop it from leaking. All you’ve done is make an expensive defect.
Does that paint cause the, like for my basement is cinder block, does that paint cause it to crumble? Because now the water is having issues, it still comes out but it’s not coming out like, it’s not being able to breathe through the block.
No, what causes that block to crumble a lot of times is that the average person does not have a dehumidifier. When that moisture gets into that block, over time, the water erodes it simply, it just gives way because a large number of the older style basements that were built, the cinder blocks were hollow or they fill them up with sand or dirt. When you end up with a hole in it that it begins washing out all of the structure and over time it just begins to crumble up.
How do you fix something like that? Do poured basements have the same issue? Do they begin to..?
Believe it or not, a lot poured basements have the same issue because a lot of those poured basements they didn’t pour them to a strong mixture which we call it a PSI. They poured the wall to the same concrete PSI as they had for the floor which means that wall is really not all that strong. Over time, it just tends to crumble and erode because the water is able to slide through it. Most people think concrete is a really strong structure and the thicker they pour the wall the better chance they have of the wall never leaking. It doesn’t really matter how thick they pour that wall. That wall is going to suck water no matter what it does. It just, depending at what rate it’s going to suck water based on the PSI. What people don’t understand is just walk outside and get a cup of water pour it on concrete and see how long it takes for that concrete to suck up the water. That’s your basement.
Right next to my house, I had a sidewalk. I just took it out. It wasn’t sidewalk. I think they put it there to help keep the water away from the house. I think it was just causing damage. Water would just puddle up on top of it and I think it would either just soak into that cement or go into my basement and I had big holes in the block that were missing. You know like it ate away at the basement. You’ve probably seen some of that.
I’ll tell you one thing, out of all the conversation with people who think they know what they are talking about, you have just made one of the best comments I have ever had with somebody, including an engineer because a lot of these people, they are under the impression that if they pour concrete around the structure that it’s going to keep the water away. What they have just done is they just guaranteed that the water that is around the structure is going to flow toward the basement and stay there.
Even if the cement is graded, away from it?
The problem with grading away from it is, over time, depending on how graded, they don’t need concrete to do it. When they pour that concrete, that concrete may fall pretty well but unless they make that angle where it falls, it should fall 6 inches for the first 10 feet. Usually that means it has a pretty good dip. Usually when they pour that concrete around it they try to make it look flat but with a little bit of slant on it. The problem is, depending on the structure, everybody’s got trees and bushes and when that stuff falls down and those leaves fall down it fills in those little areas. Then when it floods, that water immediately raises up and you have poured that structure where it immediately forms around the structure and goes up the walls. They would have been better off not pouring any concrete around and putting in a proper drain. They simply don’t do it.
What do you do? Is there, it seems like a battle between from what I have been reading online, with exterior waterproofing and interior I should say is water management when it is interior rather than waterproofing. What are your thoughts on that?
My thoughts is, those arguments on both sides are correct believe it or not. When they say hey if you stop the water from the, if you channel the water on the inside you are not waterproofing. You are channeling the water. You are giving up on stopping the water from coming in and what you are doing is you are bringing it in and you are controlling it. That’s not waterproofing. They are correct. Waterproofers that waterproof on the outside tell them that when you waterproof on the outside and you put the pump on the outside, you’re not necessarily catching all the water, what you have done is you’ve put in what we consider a deep well on the assumption that the water is going to flow into the well and keep the basement from flooding. That doesn’t work over time as well. They are right. I am more of a, being a martial artist, I am more of a Bruce Lee kind of thing. All martial arts is good. There is no one art better than the other art. It’s all based on the quality of the martial artist or in this situation, the quality of the basement waterproofer. Our method is, we do both. If we go out to a job and we see a basement that is leaking and the walls are really bad, the first thing we do is we is we re-do the areas that are crumbling. Then we repair, waterproof repair all the crack, all the holes, all the seams,all the gaps and then we waterproof the entire area. Now we know that water is never going to come in, to our walls. Because what we do, and the type of waterproofing that we use, we call it “self-healing” concrete. It penetrates the entire wall. Our waterproofing, it doesn’t matter if it’s applied on the outside or the inside. If we apply it on the outside, over time it penetrates the entire wall. It doesn’t matter if it is concrete block or if it’s a poured wall. what we do is, we apply it base on whatever is feasible. If we are looking at a basement that is totally finished out and it is totally going to cost them 30, 40, 50,000 dollars to totally gut the basement in order for us to properly fix all the walls and waterproof them, then we do it from the outside of the basement.
That makes sense.
If the basement is open and they haven’t finished it out because a) it has always been leaking so they never got a chance to finish it out, in that case we repair it from the inside. We waterproof the interior walls which make the walls waterproof within 5 days. We put the, we apply the waterproofing on and 2 different type of coats and we water them, literally water the walls for the next 2 days, and after that the walls will not accept water. It’s crystalline structure after that. Our walls don’t leak and they are warrantied to not leak for at least 20 years. After that’s done and our walls are dry, then we put up a moisture barrier material all around the inside with drains. Now we can guarantee that the basement walls no long going to take it. Then if they ever crack for whatever reason, it would slide into our drains and we can guarantee that moisture doesn’t enter the walls and water will never hit the floor. We do both of those methods when we warranty the basement to never leak again. We do both of them.
Then with cinder block basements do you drill out the cores of each block if it’s the hollow kind? Are you doing that so that it releases the, like if water gets in there it comes out, and if you do or if you don’t, one thing I am curious about is, I’ve heard that people do that, doesn’t it seems like it would weaken your foundation? You have all these holes in the bottom.
Well, really they are small holes because water is always going to find a way. Number one you are not drilling a very large hole through. I’ve seen people do a lot of different methods and we used to do those kinds of methods. What we do is, we drill a hole and we do what we call pilot test holes and if they are full of water, it’s not a problem. What we’re doing is we’re drilling to make sure that we don’t have an issue as far as the block crumbling. If you drill a hole through it, and you get a lot of mud and a lot of material comes through, then we know that that block is breaking down.
What do you do in a situation like that?
Then what we’ll do is, a lot of the times we’ll build a thin wall on the outside of that wall. We think that that wall may be compromised.
That means you’re digging. You have to excavate outside?
No we’re adding that thin wall on the inside. We only do that maybe 2% of the time. It’s for rare cases. Most of the time what we find is that the concrete block is still structurally sound. You can see the concrete block which is disintegrating on average is because you can see it literally sliding off of the footing or you can actually see it that the walls are being pushed away from each other.
I saw in one of your Facebook videos that you guys were sandblasting walls. Is that to get the paint off so you can put your solution on the walls? Is that pretty much what you’re doing?
Yeah, it’s not sandblasting because sandblasting is not environmentally friendly. We blast with other materials. That we don’t tell exactly what we use because we are able to shoot those walls in a way that it literally will strip it back to the original state back to what it was before anything was on it.
Are you concerned; when you do that is there any concern with mold spores or any of that like being released into the atmosphere of the home or is it not an issue or do you take care of that?
No, If we notice that there is mold we would have them do a mold remediation before we started or we have a couple of chemicals that we shoot on mold areas and it literally eats the mold.
I’ve seen some videos on YouTube or Facebook, they’re selling some stuff and I am curious if it’s the same stuff.
Oh, all I know is it eats the mold. We spray on one day. The next day we go in there, all the mold is gone that we normally see and we are able to go to work.
I have some other questions that I wrote down. How do you prevent your basement from smelling moldy? What’s the, that’s just water that causes it?
Yes, that’s moisture. That’s moisture inside the basement. What we do is we put our material on the wall that I was telling you kills the humidity. We put a material on the wall that is a thermal material on the wall and it blocks moisture. Once we put the material on the wall that blocks the moisture then we put another material over the floor and it blocks all the moisture from coming into the foundation. Literally, the next day, we can walk into that basement and we can notice that the humidity level drops from 60-65 down to right around 58-59 without a humidifier. Then our levels drop right down to the 40’s.
Where is supposed to be in the 50 range?
Yes, anywhere between 45 to 50 is a good healthy range for it to be in.
Basically, it encapsulates the basement so that the air inside your basement is not connected to the walls or flooring and all that?
Exactly, and we use a clean air system along with it. It literally cleans the air while it is inside. The basement tends to smell cleaner than the rest of the house.
I saw that you have products for sale on your website. One of them was called, The Exchanger or something like that, so you can blow air out at the same time?
What we’ve gone to now, that’s our old website. What we have gone to is portable. There’s a much smaller unit now. That sits outside the basement wall. It sucks the air in and transforms, cleans the air. It’s a, we use now, we’ve gone standard to, it’s an easy read system.
The airflow that’s coming in, one thing that I’ve read was that you don’t want the temperature in your basement, if the air on the outside is hotter on than what it is inside or vice versa, you don’t want that. You want the temperature to be basically the same or lower? Correct my information.
Yes, this is the thing, most of the time, once you block off the humidity it’s easier to control the air in the basement just for normal breathing. Now if you actually had let’s say you had a, let’s say you’re using it for wine. Well that’s different. Then what you would use is you would actually have a system that’s going to keep the temperature of the cellar exactly what you want. It will regulate the temperature. If you have a regular standard basement that’s a decent size, you usually don’t have to worry about that. You just need a dehumidifier and a clean air system and that usually handles everything you need.
How about efflorescence? Is there a way to get rid of that if you see it on your walls or is pretty much you’re going to have it?
Yes, There’s a lot of chemicals that are sold that you can treat efflorescence. All that is the salt content coming out of the structure, coming out of your block or your wall. It’s leaching the salt coming out. If you have, you can treat it. The main thing is if you have a dehumidifier you’ll notice most of the time you tend not to have the same problems as everybody else. That’s primarily because they don’t have anything in their basement to help bring down the humidity level. Moisture is coming in and there is no way for it to get out.
Let’s say if somebody has efflorescence, a musty smelling basement and no signs of water, would you recommend that their basement be waterproofed or is that like, or are there other methods that you do?
I would encapsulate the basement. If you encapsulate the basement, you serve both messes at one time. 1) you stop the water from coming in and 2) you reduce the moisture level. If they see water, then we are talking waterproofing. Then it becomes a matter of budget. You have some people that will tell you that the moisture level isn’t a major issue for them. Their issue is they see water all in their basement. In that case, you are going to waterproof the wall and stop all the water from coming in. You can always encapsulate it later on. The first thing you have to do is you have to stop the water from coming in so it won’t damage everything you have inside.
Then, if somebody is looking for a basement waterproofer, what should they be looking for? How do they know that they’re hiring the right company?
What they should do is, the first thing I suggest is, look at their rating. Look and see if they have any bad reviews. When somebody spends, 2, 3, 4, 10, 15 thousand dollars on their basement, if they get burned they are going to write about it. I don’t care how big. I had a customer the other day, she was explaining, she had a very big company come in. They gave her a very very very good price and it was much better than my price. She asked me, “Would I give her a much better price?” I told her, “No”. She said, “But I’ve got this big big company.” I had my phone. (I said) “Why don’t you tell me their name?” She told me their name and I looked them up. We did a review, search for “fraud”. Then another search for “bad reviews”. We found 20 different reviews that were bad on the company. I said, “Cause you told me they were a very big company.” She said, “Oh yeah, they’re really big.” I said, “The bigger the companies are, the more they can absorb bad language against them.” You pick a company that has very good reviews that is customer oriented only. Like, we are. We are serious about our reviews. We’re anal about our reviews as we say. It’s because if you keep your customer happy, everybody that they talk to, is your future referrals. Up to, last year, I think it was within the last 2 years, we didn’t even advertise, anywhere at any time. We stayed busy just by word of mouth. We’re advertising now because we have so many people working. We serve all of Texas now. Now we’re actually are advertising to keep everybody busy, all the time. Before then, we never even advertised and we stayed busy. We work 7 days a week.
You’re talking about reviews and I had a basement waterproofing company come to my house and I was looking up their reviews. Something I would recommend if people are looking up reviews is, don’t just look at the reviews that they place on their own site but like through Yelp and some of the different places and read the reviews. One thing I’ve found, was this company hired people from like India and other places to write reviews for them. I was able to look on their profile and see that this person that gave them the review lives in the UK or somewhere. This person didn’t get their house waterproofed by them.
That’s the thing about doing a general search. When you do a general search, you read the reviews on their site, and then you read the reviews of other places, you get a sense of what they’re saying they’re doing. What I’ve had some of my customers say was, and they asked me for a couple of dozen of references. We post our videos. We post video reviews of our reviews of the actual customer talking about us coming out and what we did. We’re constantly adding to them every month. We have general reviews that we have where somebody types up as email and you know send it in. We let them choose between the reviews and a couple of them what they asked us for, they choose and we saw a couple of the reviews online and could you give us the phone numbers. We’ll give them the phone numbers. Let them actually talk to them. If they’ve got the money to call India. We tie a lot of our, that’s why lately what we’re doing now is we’ve made a point to create a new site. We’re going to be posting new pictures, every month, of new jobs. Therefore, every job isn’t the same. Some people don’t even want their whole basement done. They may only want a French drain. If they get a chance to see those pictures and see how it is done, it makes them feel much more comfortable with hiring us. What I say is, you do a well-rounded search. You search online reviews. You search from Angie’s List. You search from Thumbtack. Maybe Home Advisor. All those places post reviews, but guess what, those reviews have to actually come from customers. They follow up those reviews by calling those customers. Those become more real than just a general review that you said look this is what somebody said about me. Then you have those reviews where you actually see a customer and he’s standing there saying, “We hired The Basement Kings. They came out and this is what they did for me.”
For basements that you’ve done, what’s the longest, I guess, how many years has it been since your first basement, second, third and you say it’s still doing the job. It’s still doing what it’s. How long, what’s the lifespan of what you’ve seen so far?
In the last 10 years, we’ve gone back to only 2 jobs to actually have to do a modification. So when we say it’s fixed. We know it is fixed. Each time what we found was it wasn’t anything of our materials. It’s just there’s a lot of fracking going on in Texas right now. You put up a basement wall that is built to never move. Now the ground is shaking. What you’ve got is you’ve got cracks in this wall that was impervious to leaks. What we use do to do is we use to use membrane on the side of those basements and we’ve had to go back and repair some of those membranes. The membranes were all warrantied for 10-12 years. Some of those membranes we’ve actually gone out now and replaced those membranes with waterproofing that we use now, self-healing concrete. We no longer use liners of any kind. We used to use a product that was sprayed on that created a rubber on the wall. We’ve had to have gone back and repair one of those. That is why we have had 2. One was a spray on liner and one was a liner that was on the wall, you know placed on with glue. Everyone that we did, other than those 2, they’ve lived up to the warranties.
If someone was to ask why they should hire you as a contractor what would you tell them?
I’d tell them that since we, for our level of service, we take it personal if a job that we have is not effective. I’ll give you a good example, we did a job one time in Colorado. We do all kinds of states. People fly us in now. We totally repaired the floor. The young lady couldn’t sell the house. It was, she had major cracks in her floor. I mean, we told her we could fix it without having to totally tear up her foundation and everybody else told her she had to tear up her foundation. We took pride in being able to totally fix all the open holes and seal it all up making sure water didn’t come in. After we did that, the basement was sealed and she was selling the house. She called us back and let us know that we guaranteed that after we fixed the floor that she would not have to fix the foundation and she’d be able to sell the house. After she did, she put the house up for sale. The comments was that they saw all the repairs in the floor even though we warranty them that they were never going to leak it scared them. She said it didn’t solve my purpose on the end. What we did is we went back and tiled the floor for free because we knew it wasn’t going to leak but if it doesn’t look like it then you can’t. Since we told her that she was not going to have an issue selling that house, we took it personally. We spent maybe, I think right around 3-4 thousand dollars for tiles. We went and re-tiled that whole basement. I think those pictures are right online of how big that basement was.
Do you do basement remodels as well?
No, we don’t do remodels of any kind. Everything is just waterproofing and sticking with what we promised that it was going to do.
That concludes our interview with Willie King Jr. of The Basement Kings. If you are a homeowner in Texas or Oklahoma and you are looking for basement waterproofing you can go ahead, if you are in YouTube you can click the link in the description to get a consultation with Willie. If you are on our website there is a form on the left or right that you can fill out and he will get a hold of you as well. Otherwise, if you are in other parts of the United States, and you are looking for a basement waterproofing company, you can go ahead and just visit our website, Basementwaterproofingnearme.com, and we can help you find a basement waterproofing contractor near you. I hope you have a great day. Thank you for listening or watching. If you are on YouTube, thank you for watching. If you are on a podcast thank you for listening. Have a great day. We’ll see you on the next one.