Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 17
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

Prudential Fox and Roach, Realtors

Gloria Nilson GMAC Real Estate

Henderson Sotheby's International Realty

N.T. Callaway Princeton Office

Stockton Real Estate, LLC

Weichert, Realtors



Advertise in Town Topics

Iris Interiors


Advertise in Town Topics

Weather Forecast


It’s New to Us by Jean Stratton



KEEPING DRY: “As we go from town to town, it is astonishing to see how many wet basements there are. Studies show that 40 percent of houses in the U.S. have wet basements. We want to fix that.” David M. Kichula, CIH, (center) is owner and manager of Basement Technologies of Central Jersey and of Air Consulting Services, LLC, located in Hightstown. He is shown with his son and associate Derek Kichula (right) and associate Matt Hines.

Basement Technologies’ Customized System Guarantees a Dry, Water-free Basement

How wet is it? Chances are if you live in Princeton and the surrounding area, you have encountered a wet basement. After last year’s severe March nor’easter, the federal government sent FEMA representatives to town to assess damage caused by downed trees and flooding, and many homeowners qualified for aid. Unfortunately, some residents were forced to discard most of the contents of their basement.

David M. Kichula, CIH, owner and manager of Basement Technologies of Central Jersey, wants to help ensure that during the next big storm, your basement will remain dry.

“The roof and the basement are key to controlling the water,” he points out. “People know that eventually, they will need to get a new roof, but they don’t always realize that over time, the drainage system in their basements may not be working properly, especially if the house is older.”

Even if several inches — or more — of water are not evident during rainstorms, a damp basement is a breeding ground for mold and mildew and the health problems they can cause.

Real Problem

“What changed my career was mold. It’s nothing to sneeze at!” says Mr. Kichula, who has a degree in chemistry and is a certified industrial hygienist. “For 30 years, my career was indoor air quality assessment. It focused on assessing people’s exposure to contaminants, such as asbestos, lead, formaldehyde, and pesticides, in the workplace. I worked with industrial offices, and later schools, commercial offices, and then residences, and in 1996, I opened my own company, Air Consulting Services, LLC, which I still own.”

What increasingly impressed him was the prevalence of mold in so many of these places, especially residences. “This is a real problem. Mold is so prevalent, moisture is so prevalent, and it is key to mold. People clearly get sick from it, especially with asthma and upper respiratory problems. Some people have even had to leave their homes because of it.

“Mold is from the fungi kingdom, a family of organisms that eat cellulose (wood and paper). There are 10,000 different species of mold that we know of. Mold needs three things to survive: water (or 75-80 percent humidity), proper temperature, and food, such as dry wall (paper), carpet, or fiberglass insulation. A finished basement is especially susceptible to mold, but it is certainly in unfinished basements as well. When mold grows, it doesn’t go away. It can just become dormant.”

Mr. Kichula began to study the problem, and in the course of his research, he discovered Basement Technologies, a company founded by James Pratt in 1984 in Boston, it has been instrumental in changing the way the waterproofing industry approaches water problems. In 2009, Mr. Kichula became the Basement Technologies dealer for central New Jersey in Mercer, Middlesex, and Burlington counties.

Sub-Floor System

“Until 2006, when there was a water problem in the basement, the only thing we could do was to tear out the damaged stuff — remove the dry wall, for example. But you really have to decide how to deal with what is causing the water to get in — is it the drainage, downspouts, landscaping, etc.?”

He points out, however, that experts agree that the most effective basement waterproofing method is an interior sub-floor system, and Basement Technologies has found a way to capture water inside the house. Its special patented Water Trek Aqua Route is a 2-piece system, and its various designs channel water from the wall above and the footing below into a square pipe around the perimeter of the basement which connects to a covered sump pump.

“This system has several advantages,” adds Mr. Kichula. “It can be shallow, and its square pipe moves more water than a round pipe. This is suitable for virtually any basement, and also, it is not always necessary to do the entire perimeter. Perhaps only part of it is required. And we have products for virtually any footing configuration. We also offer a lifetime guarantee. There will not be one drop of water!”

It is a wise investment, he points out. “It gives you viable space for storage that will not get wet and develop mold. It reclaims that space for you, and it will also enhance the resale value of the house.

Good Dehumidifier

Mr. Kichula also suggests that a good dehumidifier is an excellent addition. “In hot weather, because the basement is a cool space, when hot moist air enters from outside, it can be an opportunity for mold. A dehumidifier will take care of this.”

Basement Technologies also offers solutions for damp and wet crawl spaces, another area that can breed mold and transmit biological contaminants and odors. Helping homeowners to eliminate wet basements and crawl spaces has become Mr. Kichula’s mission.

“We see a lot of different houses and buildings and different types of configuration. We never really know what we’ll encounter when we open up a wall. Jobs vary in length, depending on the size of the basement, and can range from one day to four or five days. Part of the challenge is making intelligent estimates on whatever we find. And it’s important to educate the people about this. I love it when the light goes on, and they understand the situation.

“What I really enjoy most, though, is when someone has been sick from mold, and now gets better when we have waterproofed the basement. I really love the work, and I am blessed to be able to do it.”

Mr. Kichula continues to enjoy the hands-on aspect of the work, handling inspections and assessments. He is pleased that his son Derek is in charge of the overall operation, along with longtime colleague Matt Hines. There is also a staff of employees, including designers and installers, all of whom have extensive industry experience and continue to receive comprehensive classroom and field training from Basement Technologies.

The company can be reached at (609) 371-3677 or 1-800 BUSY DOG. (609) 371-2489 for Air Consulting Services LLC. Website: njbasementtechnology.com.

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