Basement water issues

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numberman
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Basement water issues

Post by numberman » Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:08 pm

A couple of years ago, DW and I bought our first house. Unfortunately, we discovered after closing that water sometimes leaks into the finished basement when it rains. Trying to figure out what to do about this has been really annoying for me, so I welcome any feedback or advice from anyone else that has gone through something similar. Or really just anyone that bothers to read this.

I don't know if it's possible to give useful advice on this without actually seeing various details, but hey, maybe talking it out will help me :) I've tried editing this down to cut out some details, but it's still pretty dang long. Skip to the end of this post for more general thoughts.

Some background: it's a bungalow-style house in the Chicago suburbs (edit: almost 100 years old). For anyone unfamiliar, those tend to look something like this:
http://www.trbimg.com/img-53c083ef/turb ... 3-20140713. As you can see, they tend to be much deeper than they are wide, and there is very little space between buildings. We and our neighbors have driveways running alongside the house instead of sidewalks, but there is still very little space between the house and the neighbor's driveway (only like a couple of feet). Ground level is a little under the basement windows (no window wells). Brick siding (on 3 sides), poured concrete foundation, tile flooring, no drain tile / no sump pump. Gutters are clear, and downspouts extend as far away from the house as they can, and they seem to be working fine.

The basement was finished by a house flipper. We would like to use the basement as some extra living space, but we've been putting that off until we're more sure our stuff won't get flooded down there (usually it's not so bad, but one time during a bad rainstorm we got a huge puddle down there).

The problem:

Water gets in when it rains, in two or three separate approximate locations (it's not been completely consistent), appearing where an exterior wall meets the floor. The problem tends to be worst during sudden intense rain; slower precipitation that saturates the ground with water doesn't seem as problematic.

In one area, the foundation wall is honeycombing in spots, and we've seen a little water come in through there. (So water is coming in via foundation cracks, but they can't be fixed by crack injection.) In another area, the foundation wall is fine for all the spots we've checked; we think water is likely coming in over the top of the foundation wall, or even higher through the masonry. Trying to reproduce the problem with a garden hose has been unsuccessful.

After talking to many contractors, I have heard various possible solutions:

Install an interior drain tile / sump pump system around the entire basement

This is possibly the most common solution for this kind of problem. There are a bunch of companies in the chicagoland area that do this and have a bunch of advertising everywhere, etc. This collects water around the edge of the basement floor and feeds it to a pump that expels the water outside via a pipe.

Pros:
  • Pretty good guarantee that it will catch water coming in, regardless of reason. Companies tend to actually provide guarantees for this (assuming we install it around the entire basement).
Cons:
  • The most expensive option. (approx $15k)
  • Requires tearing up the finished basement, and so will need repairs to the wall and floor
  • Water still comes in, and so potentially leads to moisture-related deterioration. (Doesn't address the root of the problem, arguably.)
Repair brick masonry, and install an exterior barrier

We could instead try to prevent water from coming in by fixing any openings in the masonry (if that's where water is coming in), and by covering the upper part of the foundation with a membrane/barrier that protects it from water.

Pros:
  • Cost (~$10k for masonry repair, and covering foundation)
  • Prevents water from coming in in the first place (assuming we're right about where water is entering)
  • Basement interior is untouched
  • We probably need to repair the masonry at some point in the next few years anyway; some of the bricks have deteriorated and I believe some of the repointing was done incorrectly by the house flippers
Cons:
  • Not sure if this is actually the problem; might not solve the problem. Most masonry contractors I've talked to seem confused that I'm asking them to fix a water entry problem, like they've never had someone come to them with that problem. Adding a barrier around parts of the foundation may just cause the water to keep going until it finds an unprotected part of the foundation
  • Part of our driveway needs to be dug up for part of this; but that seems like a minor annoyance relatively speaking
Fix landscaping / grading

Currently, there are some low points in the soil near the house, where we get some standing water pooling after it rains. We don't always get water coming in when we see these pools of water, but they are suspect; ideally the soil would be graded so that this doesn't happen.

My understanding is that ideally the exterior foundation walls would be exposed to the air for the top couple of inches, and the soil around the house would be graded away from the house for several feet. However, this seems impossible for us, because:
  • One of the problem areas is where our foundation is only a couple of feet from the neighbor's driveway
  • The top of the foundation wall is lower than then neighbor's driveway, and about level with the sidewalk
Currently the foundation wall is slightly underground, I think on all sides.

I've only been able to find a few landscaping companies in the area that try to address drainage-related issues; not just mowing the lawn or designing a good-looking garden. Perhaps there is no way to fix the landscaping drainage issues, because none of them seem to agree with each other:

One suggested a surface drain and shallow french drain (perforated pipe) leading from the point where water pools towards the front yard. Others said the elevation does not allow for it.

One suggested drains to a drywell (or "flowell"; whatever). But this admittedly only helps for a certain capacity of water; once they fill up, water will still build up in the original spot. Some others also said the local government would not allow installing the well(s) where they need to go.

One suggested a shallow trench filled with gravel pitched towards the front or back yard. But he didn't seem too confident about this; he seemed to think there was no solution to this from a landscaping perspective. I never managed to get a quote from him.

Pros:
  • Cost (varies depending on specifics, but maybe $5k or so)
  • Prevents water from entering
  • Basement interior untouched
  • Gets rid of some pooling water outside
Cons:
  • I have little confidence that any of these will work, and frankly I doubt the competence of some of the people I talked to
Draining to old sewer pipes

This interesting approach was mentioned by a plumbing company that also advertises some services in fixing landscaping drainage. Most/all homes in this area used to have their gutter downspouts connected to the local sewage/rainwater drain system, via these clay pipes in the ground. Many homes (including ours) have had the downspouts disconnected from them to help avoid overloading the city sewer, but the pipes themselves are still there (I know where one is, but not the other).

It's maybe possible to install a surface drain to remove the outside pooling water and feed it into these clay pipes.

Pros:
  • Ideally, same as the landscaping approach above, but actually works
Cons:
  • I need to actually find the other pipe, since that's the one in the useful location. It may not even still be intact.
  • This is possibly against local regulations. The company that mentioned this to me said they would probably not do this kind of setup (since they're not supposed to officially recommend this), but if I did it myself as a homeowner, the worst that would happen is a minor fine or they'd make me take it out, etc.
  • I'd need to do (most of) this myself. I don't think it sounds too hard, depending on how "properly" I'd actually do it, and actually sounds kinda interesting, but it's definitely a project.
  • It "feels" like a cheap, hacked-together solution.
Conclusion:

Initially I was just going to go with one of basement waterproofing companies to do the drain tile system. But the common advice on the internet (here and elsewhere, I think) is that people often just by those systems because some salesman pushed it, and there are often much cheaper and effective ways to solve these kinds of things, like fixing gutters/grading. After finding that, and because of some info from some of the basement waterproofers themselves, I thought I should try one of those alternatives to fix this.

But now, I feel like I've explored these alternative solutions, and they don't fill me with confidence in our specific case, especially since the spots where water comes in has changed a little as we've made some adjustments to gutters/downspouts. So now I feel like I just need to bite the bullet and go with the expensive option and tear up the basement.

The cost of the drain tile system (approx $15k) is something we can afford without issue. I feel like I was trying hard to avoid this because it just sounded like such a hassle, needing to repair everything inside afterwards (and it "feels" like a workaround, not a real solution). But if it means I don't need to keep calling contractor after contractor and spending all of my time on this, it doesn't seem like so much of a hassle anymore.

If anyone has bothered to read this, feel free to tell me I'm being ridiculous or overthinking this in one way or another, or share any thoughts you may have had. I'm happy to share any more details if anyone wants even more (I've skipped over quite a bit, trying not to ramble on even longer).
Last edited by numberman on Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

gtd98765
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by gtd98765 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 8:57 pm

It sounds like you have done a thorough analysis. I agree that the interior drain trench idea should be the last resort. A few years ago when we had this problem in the WashDC area we got such a bid for around $12K. Ultimately, we were able to resolve the problem by getting water from the downspouts further away from the foundation with underground pipes to the lawn. But it sounds like you don't have enough space to do that kind of thing. Good luck!

Student2
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by Student2 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:21 pm

I am no expert and hopefully someone with more experience will weigh in, but I also have an occasionally damp basement and have spent some time reading about this. Many basements built around the time of my house, early 50s, were not designed to be dry. Previous occupants didn't expect the basements didn't have the same expectations about liveable space as we do today. The options you listed were the same ones I saw: (from least :moneybag & complexity to most) grade / manage the outdoor water and your downspouts, try to seal the interior wall, or bite the bullet and opt for a foundation drain and sump pump. Unless you identify a clear problem that either of the first two solutions can address, the last option is the expected to be the most effective. Although you mention that it doesn't seem like a solution since water still gets in, from what I've read, concrete works just as well when wet as when it's dry. As long as water is being kept away from the inside of your basement, the concrete won't be affected by being wet. (If your foundation walls are deteriorating -- not sure what you meant by 'honeycombing' -- you may want to have that evaluated, but that's another issue.)

I found two options for foundation drains: internal and external. External drains are less common since they require digging up all the landscaping, patios, etc. That leaves internal drains as the most common solution. Most internal drains are placed under the foundation concrete a few inches in from the external wall, but some systems put a 'channel' all the way around the base of the wall where it meets the floor. These systems are usually more expensive than the generic pipe, but look to me like they may be more reliable (most were metal and are designed to sit in this space).

I'm leaning toward the traditional foundation drain because it is the most common (traditional method means I'm more likely to find experienced workers). I'm also leaning toward the interior drain because I don't want to dig outside to the bottome of the footing. The exterior drainage also seems more prone to clogging. Depending on where you live, what you have in your basement, and your risk tolerance, it seems a second back-up sump pump is usually recommended, with the second pump connected to a battery back-up. All in all, I've found the same information you have and have come to the same decision. Interior foundation drainage, with a sump-pump and back-up (for my case) with battery back-up will keep my basement completely dry, even in a torrential downpour. That will allow me to re-finish the basement and not worry about the occasional puddle. And my estimates put the cost around the same as you found ($15k) and I also live in the midwest (not near Chicago though).

Good luck!

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jabberwockOG
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by jabberwockOG » Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:57 pm

My suggestion is that you may have to do most or all of the items you listed to end up with a usable dry basement. Even with a interior drain and pump system for water that does get into the basement, it is still a good plan to do everything you can on the outside of the house to have as little water up against the foundation walls as possible. Water pressure on foundation walls produces long term degradation of the foundation and ongoing humidity and potential mold issues in the house.

Downspouts and gutters need to be set up to release water as far from foundation walls as possible. Grading soil and or new concrete should flow water away from foundation. Exterior trenching and drains may be required as well to move water away from foundation.

Agent007
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by Agent007 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:34 pm

You have to understand why the water is coming in and address that. Sealing things off is a temporary solution because water will find a way. Suggestions:
- Check your own gutters to make sure that they’re not clogged and that they’re not doing something dumb like draining 2 inches from the foundation. We had pooling water in our basement only to discover that the downspout was clogged.
- Check your neighbors gutters. If your neighbor’s gutter is dumping water into your yard or if the grade is such that the water is just sliding into your house - that could be your problem.
- Do a French Drain. You have to get water away from the house and French Drains are definitely a way to do this. You can combine this with gutter work. One pipe taking the downspout water out and another pipe doing a perforated French Drain. Don’t combine them.

Agree with other posters that you have done your homework here. But in principle, I think you need to get water away from the house. Don’t just seal.

WaffleCone
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by WaffleCone » Wed Apr 17, 2019 12:45 am

I'm by no means an expert in this area but have wrestled with water problems on several houses.

First I'll say that it's unfortunate your basement was recently finished by a flipper. It'll be difficult to investigate anything thoroughly and I suspect other shortcuts or mistakes were made. Not as step#1 but you may end up tearing down the drywall and re-finishing your basement. You're at a big disadvantage not being able to see everything completely. Water runs in weird ways.
numberman wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:08 pm
The problem:

Water gets in when it rains, in two or three separate approximate locations (it's not been completely consistent), appearing where an exterior wall meets the floor. The problem tends to be worst during sudden intense rain; slower precipitation that saturates the ground with water doesn't seem as problematic.
I've seen this before. There is a joint between the top of the footer and the bottom of the concrete wall pour. I'm not sure where your floor is relative to the foorter but this may be your issue too. Ideally it would be fixed on the outside but I've chiseled away a V-shape groove at the bottom and applied hydraulic cement followed by Thoroseal. Mine wasn't an active leak per-se but a small amount of seepage in spots.

The sudden downpour makes me wonder if there's either more than a few low spots near your foundation or one of those clay pipes is draining right to the bottom of your wall. I've seen this before as well. I'm not sure where it was supposed to drain-- city sewer or street-- but it was cracked and drained mostly into the basement.
numberman wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:08 pm
In one area, the foundation wall is honeycombing in spots, and we've seen a little water come in through there. (So water is coming in via foundation cracks, but they can't be fixed by crack injection.) In another area, the foundation wall is fine for all the spots we've checked; we think water is likely coming in over the top of the foundation wall, or even higher through the masonry. Trying to reproduce the problem with a garden hose has been unsuccessful.
Exterior grade should not be above your concrete foundation wall, or at least not in any houses I've seen. You shouldn't have dirt against the brick, which is likely backed by narrow block and not intended to be waterproof. It sheds water great but the water can't drain if it's underground and it will leak right through the block.

One of the basements I helped out on was getting a flooded... two issues, one was poor flashing at the roof which caused water to run behind the brick and into the basement. Second was a hole drilled by an electrician which was not properly filled allowing water to run in along side the wire.

It takes a lot for bad pointing to cause a leak because generally the water will run down the back of the brick and drain out. There's an air gap between the brick and block that dries out. I'd be on the lookout for holes and missing pointing more-so than loose masonry unless it's turning to dust.

As for the honeycombing and cracks... I guess it depends on how bad the leak is, but if the cracks aren't moving they can usually be patched from the inside. I'm a big fan of Thoroseal for basement walls and hydraulic cement works very well too if applied correctly.
numberman wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:08 pm
Fix landscaping / grading
Do this first. Somehow get rid of the pooling. You don't want any dips. Somehow get the water shedding into the street. Using the old clay pipes may be another problem in the making. If a sidewalk is against your foundation, put a good sealer between it and the house. If you have room, small bushes (boxwood,grasses,etc) will help keep some water off the soil.

My experience with basement waterproofing companies is that they only really do one type of repair and that's what they will try to sell you.

I'd call another landscape company and tell them you have pooling water that you want fixed. The underground trench with stone wrapped in landscape cloth is not a bad idea, I've seen this done before too. In that case it drained to daylight though.

Good luck.

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lthenderson
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by lthenderson » Wed Apr 17, 2019 8:06 am

I've always started with the grading issues first but in your case, this seems like it will be problematic for several reasons. I would do what you can to fix the grading but some of it like your neighbors driveway being higher than your foundation wall can't be fixed without a lot of money and time involved.

After grading, you are pretty much left with two options. Do something on the exterior to prevent the water from getting in or dealing with the water in an efficient manner once it enters to get rid of it. In your case, any exterior work is going to involve tearing out the driveway of your neighbor, and your sidewalk. To do a proper job on the exterior, the entire basement wall down to the footer needs to be exposed. Just installing something on the top portion as you suggested in one of your options won't solve anything. Many exterior solutions mentioned above work well if you have the gradient fall to get the water away on your property, but many in situations like what you describe your house being in don't. Sometimes exterior waterproofing solutions by themselves can work depending on soil types and water table levels. Hard to know in your specific case.

I hate dealing with water on the inside of the foundation wall because it is a band-aid at best but in your particular case and not knowing how amenable your neighbors would be to you doing major dirt work on both sides of your house, it may be the only reasonable solution in this case. I've been in several basements where there is a trench around the perimeter that drains the water to a sump pump and they do work. However, I would get a couple more quotes as the one you mentioned seemed on the high side.

smitcat
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by smitcat » Wed Apr 17, 2019 8:10 am

What have your neighbors done in the immediate area to completely solve for this problem?

daheld
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by daheld » Wed Apr 17, 2019 8:19 am

Based on the picture you posted I'm going to guess the home was built in 1910s-1920s? In many cases, the concrete used to pour foundation and basement walls set up to be pretty porous. You mention there's some honeycombing. As the ground around your foundation gets completely saturated, the porousness of that concrete becomes a problem and water finds a way in.

If you've covered all the issues related to grading of the exterior landscaping, gutters, and downspouts, I'm not sure there's much else you can do. The only other potential thing I can think of would be the driveway. Does water penetrate the walls near the driveway? Is the driveway asphalt? Is that asphalt in a state of disrepair such that it might allow water to get in cracks and crevices? I've seen this happen and repairing the asphalt helped, though didn't completely solve, the issue. I think this is unlikely in your case but a possibility.

It sounds like you've covered all the basics and you're still getting water penetration. I don't think spending $15k will fix it, and you'll mostly be wasting your money.

Jags4186
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by Jags4186 » Wed Apr 17, 2019 8:26 am

We bought a house last year. The seller’s disclosure said it never had gotten water in the basement. In our first 3 months there we experience torrential rain (car floating away type of flooding in the area). Of course, we got water in our basement 3 times—and way more than just a “puddle”. Once I jumped off the “I want to sue the sellers” pedestal line of thinking, I got to work on how to solve the problem.

We went through similar things, quotes for regrading, quotes for a French drain (approximately $8500, your house is likely larger), quotes for exterior membrane (which was by far the most expensive...$40k+ to dig up around the foundation and install membrane, surprised yours was cheaper). I ended up fixing the problem for less than $100. Went to Home Depot and bought six of those 8 ft black flexible downspout extender. I attached two of them each to the 3 downspouts that drain on the surface. I then bought a 50ft snake and snaked all of the underground downspouts for the total 50 ft. All the water coming down onto our house now drains a minimum of 16ft away from the foundation. Even with more torrential downpours we haven’t had a drop. One day if I’m ever adventurous I will try to pretty up the spouts, maybe bury them, but for now it works great.

I would try some DIY options first.

EDIT: sorry I didn’t really read your entire post and now realize you tried all this. A French drain should help you, although with poured foundation they will put some special wall over the foundation walls since they can’t drill into hollow cinderblock. Good luck, but this will likely work. Don’t do the exterior membrane its incredibly invasive. Get a battery backup.

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ohboy!
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by ohboy! » Wed Apr 17, 2019 8:33 am

This is such an issue, one that I think a lot of people tend to ignore.

I see two problems. One; air quality from moisture in the house and potential for mold. Two; house structure jeopardized by water damage to the foundation

I believe the number one issue is the amount of water hitting roofs with nowhere to go. Look at any urban neighborhood, it’s 90% or more roofs and concrete. Rainwater adds up! 1” of rain on a 1k sqft space (roof for example) makes for over 600 gallons! That’s 5k lbs of water! Now even if you have equal yard to non permeable ground (patio/roof/etc) it’s a lot of water to make it into the water table. Now figure a lot gets dumped in concentrated places (downspouts). If those downspouts are not going to a storm drain directly or indirectly, then the water has to go down. Imagine if you have 1” of rain on a 1k sq ft roof that someone dumps 6 or 7 bathtubs full of water every time.

I believe Chicago averages 3”+ per month? Some days you probably even get 2”. Also considering that ground water likely freezes and thaws for winter.

Now I would look at your downspouts and your neighbors and consider all of that water and where it can go. A basement becomes essentially a well.

aristotelian
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by aristotelian » Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:40 am

I think your best recourse is to sue the flipper and/or home inspector for failing to disclose this issue.

Boglegrappler
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by Boglegrappler » Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:56 am

I'm not sure I have any solution for you, but I do have some experience in these matters.

From your description, I think it seems likely that you are getting "surface water" into the basement. By that I mean water that arrives at the point of ingress relatively quickly during or following a storm. This is as opposed to water that more slowly works its way down through the soil and winds up saturating the soil around the footing, leading to a slower, more sustained seepage ("ground water"). That situation would probably manifest itself more broadly around the perimeter rather than being confined to specific areas, and the ingress would last longer.

You've said the basement is poured concrete, but I wonder if it isn't more likely concrete block. I had an experience with a block foundation that was eye-opening. We had added a room, with a full basement foundation, on the back of our house. Almost immediately we realized that we were getting water when it rained hard. But one of the mysteries was that some of it was seeping from the old foundation, from blocks that were three courses above the basement floor.

It took a long time, but I discovered the issue when I decided to demolish the concrete steps (2) coming up to the door , and found that the builder had drilled holes to insert rebar into both the new and old foundation at the corner where the door was. The problem was that he didn't epoxy or caulk the holes and when a heavy rain caused the patio in that area to collect some water, quite a lot of it found its way into the block where the holes for the rebar were drilled. Obviously, gravity took it all the way to the basement floor, and in a heavy downpour quite a lot if it needed up there, and seeped through the block. I had, unfortunately, a drain that took water directly into my block foundation during heavy rains.

My guess is that your foundation may have some structural faults not far from the ground surface that are allowing heavy rainfall to enter your block, or a crack in your foundation (if it is actually poured concrete), and then move quickly down to the points where its entering your basement. If you could minimize the water collection in that area at the surface, or possibly do a little digging to look for cracks, you might be able to fix your problem more cheaply than other methods.

Good luck.

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numberman
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by numberman » Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:53 pm

Oh my, I didn't expect to many replies so quickly. Thank you all for your thoughts.
Student2 wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:21 pm
Although you mention that it doesn't seem like a solution since water still gets in, from what I've read, concrete works just as well when wet as when it's dry. As long as water is being kept away from the inside of your basement, the concrete won't be affected by being wet. (If your foundation walls are deteriorating -- not sure what you meant by 'honeycombing' -- you may want to have that evaluated, but that's another issue.)
Yes, I forgot to mention this: I did ask about this and the waterproofers tend to say water still coming in to the drain tile isn't a concern. Since they are the people trying to sell me the system, I took that with a grain of salt, but I think that's just how I "feel". I haven't heard of anyone that had such a system installed and still complained about moisture/humidity issues (assuming the system is working etc), so I think my concern probably isn't backed by facts and I just need to get over it.

Honeycombing is a form of concrete deterioration that is caused by bad workmanship when it was poured (however many decades ago). Googling for images of it shows what it looks like; it looks like the wall is crumbling away, exposing a pile of rocks. It looks bad but is almost always considered cosmetic, and not a structural concern (which is what some contractors told me, and the internet agrees). But it means the cracks in that area cannot be fixed by simple injection techniques, is my understanding.

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numberman
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by numberman » Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:03 pm

jabberwockOG wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:57 pm
My suggestion is that you may have to do most or all of the items you listed to end up with a usable dry basement. Even with a interior drain and pump system for water that does get into the basement, it is still a good plan to do everything you can on the outside of the house to have as little water up against the foundation walls as possible.
Yes, I've been considering this possibility. I was thinking doing the drain tile part first because it seems like the most intrusive bit (basement needs to be cleared out, partially demolished, and repaired), and is good "insurance" to have in place even when other things are done.
Agent007 wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:34 pm
- Check your neighbors gutters. If your neighbor’s gutter is dumping water into your yard or if the grade is such that the water is just sliding into your house - that could be your problem.
- Do a French Drain. You have to get water away from the house and French Drains are definitely a way to do this. You can combine this with gutter work. One pipe taking the downspout water out and another pipe doing a perforated French Drain. Don’t combine them.
I've checked during rains and I don't think the neighbor's gutters are the problem, but that does remind me that the neighbor's driveway (the one close by us) possibly is. I think it's slightly pitched towards us, so we get some water from that, but it seems unavoidable. I think our driveway does the same thing to the neighbor on the other side :) The driveways try to pitch towards the front, but they may not be exactly level in the other direction, and it makes sense for the water to go towards the soil instead of right up next to the house.

For a french drain: okay, but where does it drain to? All the furthest points I can trench to are at similar or higher levels as the foundation top. (I say this after talking to landscaping contractors, not just random guessing.)
Last edited by numberman on Wed Apr 17, 2019 4:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Jags4186
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by Jags4186 » Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:19 pm

aristotelian wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:40 am
I think your best recourse is to sue the flipper and/or home inspector for failing to disclose this issue.
This could be very difficult to do and the real issue is that the cost to sue could be greater than the cost to remediate. We looked into this on our house but let’s say we spent $10,000 on an attorney for the chance of getting money back, or spend $8000 on a French drain system that would essentially fix the problem. At the end of the day it cost us $100 to fix.

OP, have you talked to your neighbors and asked them if they get water in the basement and what they do?

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numberman
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by numberman » Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:30 pm

WaffleCone wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 12:45 am
First I'll say that it's unfortunate your basement was recently finished by a flipper. It'll be difficult to investigate anything thoroughly and I suspect other shortcuts or mistakes were made. Not as step#1 but you may end up tearing down the drywall and re-finishing your basement. You're at a big disadvantage not being able to see everything completely. Water runs in weird ways.
Regarding other mistakes: yes of course. We've been in the house for 2 years ago; this is far from the first thing we've noticed that was done poorly. This is just the most expensive and un-ignorable.

I have already cut many holes in the basement drywall, trying to track the problem from the inside. As I get closer to deciding to install drain tile, I get closer to just ripping out the bottom few feet of drywall everywhere, since we'll need to do that anyway.
I've seen this before. There is a joint between the top of the footer and the bottom of the concrete wall pour. I'm not sure where your floor is relative to the foorter but this may be your issue too. Ideally it would be fixed on the outside but I've chiseled away a V-shape groove at the bottom and applied hydraulic cement followed by Thoroseal. Mine wasn't an active leak per-se but a small amount of seepage in spots.
The cove joint, right? What I was trying to get at with the "sudden" vs "slow" contrast is that this is unlikely to be cove joint seepage; several waterproofers have agreed on this. If it was cove joint seepage, water would come in when the soil is just saturated with water (from many days of rain, or by running the hose outside), but that's not what seems to happen. The "sudden" water causes water build up over the top of the foundation wall; or windy rain blows water onto the masonry and water gets in through there. That's the theory, anyway, for that part of it.

Also, my limited understanding is that you're not supposed to "seal" cove joint issues like that. If you do that, the water pressure can continue building up against the foundation until it cracks it, potentially through the foundation floor.
Exterior grade should not be above your concrete foundation wall, or at least not in any houses I've seen. You shouldn't have dirt against the brick, which is likely backed by narrow block and not intended to be waterproof. It sheds water great but the water can't drain if it's underground and it will leak right through the block.
I know it shouldn't, but I don't know how to avoid it. If we excavated soil until the foundation was visible, and sloped the soil away from the house at the recommended pitch, by the time the yard reaches the front sidewalk the sidewalk would be over than a foot or possibly several feet higher (I haven't actually calculated this, but I think it's somewhere around there). It would be like the house had a moat around it. And if I had a french drain pipe (or surface drain with pipe), where does it go? We could lower just part of the lawn to make it lower than the foundation and have it the pipe exit there, but then heavy rains would have water build up at the exit and flow backwards towards the entry. It seems like the same problem.
One of the basements I helped out on was getting a flooded... two issues, one was poor flashing at the roof which caused water to run behind the brick and into the basement. Second was a hole drilled by an electrician which was not properly filled allowing water to run in along side the wire.
How did you determine the roof was the problem? I hadn't seriously looked into that possibility, but I thought if water was coming in from the roof, we'd notice moisture on inside walls on the non-basement levels (which we don't). I'm not sure how to rule out this possibility?

And actually yes, there have been holes drilled in the masonry that were not sealed. I've found several phone cables (I assume) that were cut, but never removed and the holes never filled in. I've sealed all of the ones I could find (using a product called Quad, which has worked great as far as I can tell).
My experience with basement waterproofing companies is that they only really do one type of repair and that's what they will try to sell you.
In my experience, that's true of some/most of them but not all. I've had a few stick around for over an hour running the hose at various points outside the house, trying to pinpoint where water may be coming in. The waterproofers were also the people who originally steered me in the direction of masonry/landscaping, to try to figure things out with them first. (But yes, most of them just looked around long enough to say "we can install a drain tile system for $x".)

Topic Author
numberman
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by numberman » Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:53 pm

lthenderson wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 8:06 am
I've been in several basements where there is a trench around the perimeter that drains the water to a sump pump and they do work. However, I would get a couple more quotes as the one you mentioned seemed on the high side.
Interior drain tile projects I assume are always priced per linear foot, so the price is extremely different depending on the size of the basement, and my impression is ours is a little on the larger side for doing the whole thing. I've already gotten many different quotes ranging from around $10k to one over $30k; $15k is my estimate for a "normal" price from one of the established bigger names in the business, so that's my best guess of what I'd probably be paying. I wasn't really looking for feedback on if these are reasonable figures (not that I'm complaining!), but I was just giving a sense of scale for what I mean when I say option A is "more expensive" than option B.
smitcat wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 8:10 am
What have your neighbors done in the immediate area to completely solve for this problem?
The causes of this problem can be different from house to house, so the scenarios are not always comparable. But the most common solutions I've heard:
  • The basement is unfinished; it leaks and they don't care
  • They installed an expensive drain tile system like I am considering
  • They fixed it by fixing gutter/landscaping issues, but their foundation elevation is more reasonable, making this possible
Also not all houses in the area leak (but a lot do, at some point or another). Before this place, we lived in a house in the same area for years with a non-drain-tiled finished basement, and never had this problem.
daheld wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 8:19 am
Based on the picture you posted I'm going to guess the home was built in 1910s-1920s? In many cases, the concrete used to pour foundation and basement walls set up to be pretty porous. You mention there's some honeycombing. As the ground around your foundation gets completely saturated, the porousness of that concrete becomes a problem and water finds a way in.
That was just a google image search result for "chicago bungalow", but yes, the house is almost 100 years old (sorry, that would have been very easy to include in the original post, and I'll do so now). The honeycombing is in one specific area, which I believe is some kind of addition that was done after the original house construction (but I assume is still quite old; like maybe it's 70 or 80 years instead of 100). Some contractors looking at it posited that a previous owner did that themselves without knowing what they were doing; that kind of thing. The rest of the foundation does not show any signs of that (though I've only looked in some areas where I cut open the walls).
Does water penetrate the walls near the driveway? Is the driveway asphalt? Is that asphalt in a state of disrepair such that it might allow water to get in cracks and crevices? I've seen this happen and repairing the asphalt helped, though didn't completely solve, the issue. I think this is unlikely in your case but a possibility.
Driveway is concrete, and the problematic area is on the opposite side of the house. (Water flows and all... but this would have to go completely around the house.)
It sounds like you've covered all the basics and you're still getting water penetration. I don't think spending $15k will fix it, and you'll mostly be wasting your money.
A drain tile system is maybe not ideal, but I'm not sure how I see how it would be a waste and just not work.

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numberman
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by numberman » Wed Apr 17, 2019 4:17 pm

aristotelian wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:40 am
I think your best recourse is to sue the flipper and/or home inspector for failing to disclose this issue.
There was no water problem when the home inspector came by. I deliberately visited the house right after it rained, and there was no water problem. (Which is consistent with the current behavior; sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't.)

There is a document in the closing documents that states the seller knows of no basement water issues (which is the case for all sales in IL I think, or maybe all US?). But proving that a prior owner knew about this is near impossible, and maybe they legitimately didn't know; a flipper isn't going to be there every day. Unless I find a memo with the seller company's letterhead when opening up the basement walls, and it says something like "hey don't fix the water issue in the basement, let the buyers deal with it, bwahaha", I kind of doubt that would be worthwhile.

Also presumably all I'd get from that would be money. Money is nice, but it's not the problem here.
Boglegrappler wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:56 am
From your description, I think it seems likely that you are getting "surface water" into the basement. By that I mean water that arrives at the point of ingress relatively quickly during or following a storm. This is as opposed to water that more slowly works its way down through the soil and winds up saturating the soil around the footing, leading to a slower, more sustained seepage ("ground water"). That situation would probably manifest itself more broadly around the perimeter rather than being confined to specific areas, and the ingress would last longer.
Yes, I agree (for the portion of the foundation that is not honeycombed). This is the kind of thing I was trying to get across with the sudden vs slow precipitation thing, but I think you've described it here more clearly.
You've said the basement is poured concrete, but I wonder if it isn't more likely concrete block. I had an experience with a block foundation that was eye-opening.
I'm not an expert, but I mean, it looks like a solid wall of concrete to me, and the basement waterproofers all said poured concrete. But I mentioned that the ground level is above the top of the foundation, so a row or two of masonry bricks are below ground. So in that sense the top area may behavior similarly to a cinderblock foundation. I haven't yet been able to "catch" where exactly it's coming in from, but that area would be my best guess.

Carl53
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by Carl53 » Wed Apr 17, 2019 4:55 pm

I had a little seepage on one wall at the basement floor a few years ago in a 40+ year old home that we have lived over 25 years. It had an interior basement tile along each wall installed by the original owners that emptied into a sump/sump pump. Convinced that that pipe had become plugged I plunked down $4k for the tile along that wall to be replaced. This included me removing wall coverings and insulation and then recovering. Company noted that wall had some cracks with dampness and covered those with some epoxy straps in case the wall was shifting, (quite sure that it had not budged since we've been there), and then a thin hard material to divert any seepage to the new floor line. They also advised that I return the downspouts to a drain away from the house. That drain line had become plugged (now believe to be main problem) and I had 300 foot of new line installed for less than $1k. I also relaid some brick pavers that came up to the house on that side. They now have about a 2" drop across perhaps four feet and I put a piece of EPDM pond liner under them. No more problems.

BTW, the removed basement tile had very minimal debris in it.

aristotelian
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by aristotelian » Wed Apr 17, 2019 6:19 pm

Jags4186 wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:19 pm
aristotelian wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:40 am
I think your best recourse is to sue the flipper and/or home inspector for failing to disclose this issue.
This could be very difficult to do and the real issue is that the cost to sue could be greater than the cost to remediate. We looked into this on our house but let’s say we spent $10,000 on an attorney for the chance of getting money back, or spend $8000 on a French drain system that would essentially fix the problem. At the end of the day it cost us $100 to fix.

OP, have you talked to your neighbors and asked them if they get water in the basement and what they do?
My point is, I do not think remediation will be successful.

smitcat
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by smitcat » Wed Apr 17, 2019 6:39 pm

numberman wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:53 pm
lthenderson wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 8:06 am
I've been in several basements where there is a trench around the perimeter that drains the water to a sump pump and they do work. However, I would get a couple more quotes as the one you mentioned seemed on the high side.
Interior drain tile projects I assume are always priced per linear foot, so the price is extremely different depending on the size of the basement, and my impression is ours is a little on the larger side for doing the whole thing. I've already gotten many different quotes ranging from around $10k to one over $30k; $15k is my estimate for a "normal" price from one of the established bigger names in the business, so that's my best guess of what I'd probably be paying. I wasn't really looking for feedback on if these are reasonable figures (not that I'm complaining!), but I was just giving a sense of scale for what I mean when I say option A is "more expensive" than option B.
smitcat wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 8:10 am
What have your neighbors done in the immediate area to completely solve for this problem?
The causes of this problem can be different from house to house, so the scenarios are not always comparable. But the most common solutions I've heard:
  • The basement is unfinished; it leaks and they don't care
  • They installed an expensive drain tile system like I am considering
  • They fixed it by fixing gutter/landscaping issues, but their foundation elevation is more reasonable, making this possible
Also not all houses in the area leak (but a lot do, at some point or another). Before this place, we lived in a house in the same area for years with a non-drain-tiled finished basement, and never had this problem.
daheld wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 8:19 am
Based on the picture you posted I'm going to guess the home was built in 1910s-1920s? In many cases, the concrete used to pour foundation and basement walls set up to be pretty porous. You mention there's some honeycombing. As the ground around your foundation gets completely saturated, the porousness of that concrete becomes a problem and water finds a way in.
That was just a google image search result for "chicago bungalow", but yes, the house is almost 100 years old (sorry, that would have been very easy to include in the original post, and I'll do so now). The honeycombing is in one specific area, which I believe is some kind of addition that was done after the original house construction (but I assume is still quite old; like maybe it's 70 or 80 years instead of 100). Some contractors looking at it posited that a previous owner did that themselves without knowing what they were doing; that kind of thing. The rest of the foundation does not show any signs of that (though I've only looked in some areas where I cut open the walls).
Does water penetrate the walls near the driveway? Is the driveway asphalt? Is that asphalt in a state of disrepair such that it might allow water to get in cracks and crevices? I've seen this happen and repairing the asphalt helped, though didn't completely solve, the issue. I think this is unlikely in your case but a possibility.
Driveway is concrete, and the problematic area is on the opposite side of the house. (Water flows and all... but this would have to go completely around the house.)
It sounds like you've covered all the basics and you're still getting water penetration. I don't think spending $15k will fix it, and you'll mostly be wasting your money.
A drain tile system is maybe not ideal, but I'm not sure how I see how it would be a waste and just not work.
"The causes of this problem can be different from house to house, so the scenarios are not always comparable. But the most common solutions I've heard:"
I guess it can but your immediate area will be the best test case for whether or not you have sand or clay below level, whether or not you have a high water table, whether or not it is mainly surface runoff, etc.
I can tell you that the basement outside wall barrier did not work for my parents home - but I cannot tell you that your area will be the same. I can tell you that lengthening the runoff with downspouts did not hep at all either - the water came in hours after the rainfall not minutes later.
I can tell you that the internal pumps (2) we added then made the basement fully dry for the past 20+ years - but I cannot tell you if that will work in your case.
It has a lot to do with your area and the exact reason why you see water in the basement.

RobLyons
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by RobLyons » Wed Apr 17, 2019 6:45 pm

numberman wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:08 pm
A couple of years ago, DW and I bought our first house. Unfortunately, we discovered after closing that water sometimes leaks into the finished basement when it rains. Trying to figure out what to do about this has been really annoying for me, so I welcome any feedback or advice from anyone else that has gone through something similar. Or really just anyone that bothers to read this.

I don't know if it's possible to give useful advice on this without actually seeing various details, but hey, maybe talking it out will help me :) I've tried editing this down to cut out some details, but it's still pretty dang long. Skip to the end of this post for more general thoughts.

Some background: it's a bungalow-style house in the Chicago suburbs (edit: almost 100 years old). For anyone unfamiliar, those tend to look something like this:
http://www.trbimg.com/img-53c083ef/turb ... 3-20140713. As you can see, they tend to be much deeper than they are wide, and there is very little space between buildings. We and our neighbors have driveways running alongside the house instead of sidewalks, but there is still very little space between the house and the neighbor's driveway (only like a couple of feet). Ground level is a little under the basement windows (no window wells). Brick siding (on 3 sides), poured concrete foundation, tile flooring, no drain tile / no sump pump. Gutters are clear, and downspouts extend as far away from the house as they can, and they seem to be working fine.

The basement was finished by a house flipper. We would like to use the basement as some extra living space, but we've been putting that off until we're more sure our stuff won't get flooded down there (usually it's not so bad, but one time during a bad rainstorm we got a huge puddle down there).

The problem:

Water gets in when it rains, in two or three separate approximate locations (it's not been completely consistent), appearing where an exterior wall meets the floor. The problem tends to be worst during sudden intense rain; slower precipitation that saturates the ground with water doesn't seem as problematic.

In one area, the foundation wall is honeycombing in spots, and we've seen a little water come in through there. (So water is coming in via foundation cracks, but they can't be fixed by crack injection.) In another area, the foundation wall is fine for all the spots we've checked; we think water is likely coming in over the top of the foundation wall, or even higher through the masonry. Trying to reproduce the problem with a garden hose has been unsuccessful.

After talking to many contractors, I have heard various possible solutions:

Install an interior drain tile / sump pump system around the entire basement

This is possibly the most common solution for this kind of problem. There are a bunch of companies in the chicagoland area that do this and have a bunch of advertising everywhere, etc. This collects water around the edge of the basement floor and feeds it to a pump that expels the water outside via a pipe.

Pros:
  • Pretty good guarantee that it will catch water coming in, regardless of reason. Companies tend to actually provide guarantees for this (assuming we install it around the entire basement).
Cons:
  • The most expensive option. (approx $15k)
  • Requires tearing up the finished basement, and so will need repairs to the wall and floor
  • Water still comes in, and so potentially leads to moisture-related deterioration. (Doesn't address the root of the problem, arguably.)
Repair brick masonry, and install an exterior barrier

We could instead try to prevent water from coming in by fixing any openings in the masonry (if that's where water is coming in), and by covering the upper part of the foundation with a membrane/barrier that protects it from water.

Pros:
  • Cost (~$10k for masonry repair, and covering foundation)
  • Prevents water from coming in in the first place (assuming we're right about where water is entering)
  • Basement interior is untouched
  • We probably need to repair the masonry at some point in the next few years anyway; some of the bricks have deteriorated and I believe some of the repointing was done incorrectly by the house flippers
Cons:
  • Not sure if this is actually the problem; might not solve the problem. Most masonry contractors I've talked to seem confused that I'm asking them to fix a water entry problem, like they've never had someone come to them with that problem. Adding a barrier around parts of the foundation may just cause the water to keep going until it finds an unprotected part of the foundation
  • Part of our driveway needs to be dug up for part of this; but that seems like a minor annoyance relatively speaking
Fix landscaping / grading

Currently, there are some low points in the soil near the house, where we get some standing water pooling after it rains. We don't always get water coming in when we see these pools of water, but they are suspect; ideally the soil would be graded so that this doesn't happen.

My understanding is that ideally the exterior foundation walls would be exposed to the air for the top couple of inches, and the soil around the house would be graded away from the house for several feet. However, this seems impossible for us, because:
  • One of the problem areas is where our foundation is only a couple of feet from the neighbor's driveway
  • The top of the foundation wall is lower than then neighbor's driveway, and about level with the sidewalk
Currently the foundation wall is slightly underground, I think on all sides.

I've only been able to find a few landscaping companies in the area that try to address drainage-related issues; not just mowing the lawn or designing a good-looking garden. Perhaps there is no way to fix the landscaping drainage issues, because none of them seem to agree with each other:

One suggested a surface drain and shallow french drain (perforated pipe) leading from the point where water pools towards the front yard. Others said the elevation does not allow for it.

One suggested drains to a drywell (or "flowell"; whatever). But this admittedly only helps for a certain capacity of water; once they fill up, water will still build up in the original spot. Some others also said the local government would not allow installing the well(s) where they need to go.

One suggested a shallow trench filled with gravel pitched towards the front or back yard. But he didn't seem too confident about this; he seemed to think there was no solution to this from a landscaping perspective. I never managed to get a quote from him.

Pros:
  • Cost (varies depending on specifics, but maybe $5k or so)
  • Prevents water from entering
  • Basement interior untouched
  • Gets rid of some pooling water outside
Cons:
  • I have little confidence that any of these will work, and frankly I doubt the competence of some of the people I talked to
Draining to old sewer pipes

This interesting approach was mentioned by a plumbing company that also advertises some services in fixing landscaping drainage. Most/all homes in this area used to have their gutter downspouts connected to the local sewage/rainwater drain system, via these clay pipes in the ground. Many homes (including ours) have had the downspouts disconnected from them to help avoid overloading the city sewer, but the pipes themselves are still there (I know where one is, but not the other).

It's maybe possible to install a surface drain to remove the outside pooling water and feed it into these clay pipes.

Pros:
  • Ideally, same as the landscaping approach above, but actually works
Cons:
  • I need to actually find the other pipe, since that's the one in the useful location. It may not even still be intact.
  • This is possibly against local regulations. The company that mentioned this to me said they would probably not do this kind of setup (since they're not supposed to officially recommend this), but if I did it myself as a homeowner, the worst that would happen is a minor fine or they'd make me take it out, etc.
  • I'd need to do (most of) this myself. I don't think it sounds too hard, depending on how "properly" I'd actually do it, and actually sounds kinda interesting, but it's definitely a project.
  • It "feels" like a cheap, hacked-together solution.
Conclusion:

Initially I was just going to go with one of basement waterproofing companies to do the drain tile system. But the common advice on the internet (here and elsewhere, I think) is that people often just by those systems because some salesman pushed it, and there are often much cheaper and effective ways to solve these kinds of things, like fixing gutters/grading. After finding that, and because of some info from some of the basement waterproofers themselves, I thought I should try one of those alternatives to fix this.

But now, I feel like I've explored these alternative solutions, and they don't fill me with confidence in our specific case, especially since the spots where water comes in has changed a little as we've made some adjustments to gutters/downspouts. So now I feel like I just need to bite the bullet and go with the expensive option and tear up the basement.

The cost of the drain tile system (approx $15k) is something we can afford without issue. I feel like I was trying hard to avoid this because it just sounded like such a hassle, needing to repair everything inside afterwards (and it "feels" like a workaround, not a real solution). But if it means I don't need to keep calling contractor after contractor and spending all of my time on this, it doesn't seem like so much of a hassle anymore.

If anyone has bothered to read this, feel free to tell me I'm being ridiculous or overthinking this in one way or another, or share any thoughts you may have had. I'm happy to share any more details if anyone wants even more (I've skipped over quite a bit, trying not to ramble on even longer).

This may help you...

I went through a similar situation here in the northeast.
As we all know the weather keeps getting more extreme year by year. Each year we got more water in our basement.
I started missing work to save the boiler and pump out water. Big problem.
Best way to address this is to do the cheapest, easiest fix first.
I tried sealing cracks. Didn't work.
Hired a company to seal them. Again did not work.
Did my research. Then got quotes for permanent solutions.

The big companies (ads on tv/radio) wanted $10k+ to do full basement drainage systems.
They got mad when I wanted to get other quotes.

Finally found a NH company that properly assessed the problem and did a half basement French drainage system for about $4k.


My advice is to get multiple quotes and choose what makes most logical sense.
Why pay $15k if a $4k system solves the problem?
"Great parenting sets the foundation for a better world"

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F150HD
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by F150HD » Wed Apr 17, 2019 9:02 pm

numberman wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:08 pm
(edit: almost 100 years old). ...poured concrete foundation...
a 100 year old home has a poured foundation? are you sure?
Long is the way and hard, that out of Hell leads up to light.

Agent007
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by Agent007 » Thu Apr 18, 2019 9:00 am

For a french drain: okay, but where does it drain to? All the furthest points I can trench to are at similar or higher levels as the foundation top. (I say this after talking to landscaping contractors, not just random guessing.)
You have to get the water to the street. If below grade, French drain it to field or tank and then sump pump it out.

smitcat
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by smitcat » Thu Apr 18, 2019 9:11 am

aristotelian wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 6:19 pm
Jags4186 wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:19 pm
aristotelian wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:40 am
I think your best recourse is to sue the flipper and/or home inspector for failing to disclose this issue.
This could be very difficult to do and the real issue is that the cost to sue could be greater than the cost to remediate. We looked into this on our house but let’s say we spent $10,000 on an attorney for the chance of getting money back, or spend $8000 on a French drain system that would essentially fix the problem. At the end of the day it cost us $100 to fix.

OP, have you talked to your neighbors and asked them if they get water in the basement and what they do?
My point is, I do not think remediation will be successful.
FWIW - remediation with my parents home was a huge success.

dowse
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by dowse » Thu Apr 18, 2019 10:04 am

I'm wondering what kind of floor you have in the basement. Maybe you could install ceramic tiles, along with a baseborad, leaving a gap between the edge of the baseboard and the exterior wall. We did this in our vacataion home. The previous owner had carpeting in the finished basement. Prior to buying, a home inspector surmised that no one would install carpeting in a basement unlesee they were very confident it would stay dry. Well, days after moving in, we had seepage in a couple of spots that got the carpet wet. After going through a similar though process to what you are doing and getting an unreasonable quote from a basement waterprroofing company, we finally decided to install tile and simply manage it. Some 15 years later, that has been the best decision we could have made. There is still seepage, but it is manageable. Some areas where we want a rug or carpet have easily replaced area rugs (we have never had to replace them). The water path is different, as the extral height of the tile is enough to redirect it. There is a utility area that still gets a lot of seepage under extreme conditions, but it is confined to that room. For extra protection, we use some aborbent "socks", which are tubes of absorbent material about 3 ft. long that we scatter around the problem areas to contain.

Good luck. It is a very frustrating problem to deal with.

mancich
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by mancich » Thu Apr 18, 2019 1:55 pm

We just had B-Dry do the inside wall in the unfinished portion of the basement where we were having significant seepage issues. They did it about a week ago. It then poured a couple of nights after they were finished. It worked. Dry and no more issues. A hard rain before the system was put in would have resulted in a large and expanding puddle on the floor that would make its way toward the finished portion of the basement, requiring frequency vacuuming with the wet/dry vac to prevent water from getting under the Pergo floor. It was worth every penny ($6k, two days of work)

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beyou
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by beyou » Thu Apr 18, 2019 10:35 pm

In replaced gutters. Needed to be done anyway, but did little to help basement flooding.


Had exterior of foundation dug up, covered with watherproofing, and this really helped alot. Cost $2000 for aboit 1/4-1/3 of the foundation (where we had flooding). Only a tiny amt of water came in one time since then, mutliple major storms where nothing came in.

I would have considered a “french drain” next but have not had to settle for that yet.

smitcat
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Re: Basement water issues

Post by smitcat » Fri Apr 19, 2019 5:49 am

beyou wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 10:35 pm
In replaced gutters. Needed to be done anyway, but did little to help basement flooding.


Had exterior of foundation dug up, covered with watherproofing, and this really helped alot. Cost $2000 for aboit 1/4-1/3 of the foundation (where we had flooding). Only a tiny amt of water came in one time since then, mutliple major storms where nothing came in.

I would have considered a “french drain” next but have not had to settle for that yet.

"Had exterior of foundation dug up, covered with watherproofing, and this really helped alot. Cost $2000 for aboit 1/4-1/3 of the foundation (where we had flooding). Only a tiny amt of water came in one time since then, mutliple major storms where nothing came in."
We did that first and it worked mostly well for about 5 years - then the leaks were more local and worse in one of 3 spots after that.
Installed 2 sump pumps about 3' down inside 2 x 2 clay drain tubes with French drain on wall - dry now for the past 20+ years.
You can of course hear and see the pumps running about 2-3 hours after a very heavy rainfall , they will run intermittently for anywhere from 3-4 hours up to a day dependent upon the local rain.
YMMV

IowaFarmBoy
Posts: 772
Joined: Fri Jan 22, 2010 8:19 am

Re: Basement water issues

Post by IowaFarmBoy » Fri Apr 19, 2019 6:05 am

I think you have done a good job analyzing your situation. It sounds like you have some tough exterior issues that may not be easily resolvable.

Have you looked at something like the link below? It would work something like your interior drain system but could be a lot cheaper. It's basically a baseboard like product that would divert the water where it comes in to something like a sump hole where you could pump it out. This isn't ideal but if your moisture issues don't happen often, it might be an alternative. I have no experience with these but have seen them advertised over the years.

http://waterproof.com/product/sealonce- ... yUEALw_wcB

xerxes101
Posts: 182
Joined: Sat Oct 14, 2017 11:25 am

Re: Basement water issues

Post by xerxes101 » Sat Apr 20, 2019 9:21 am

Jags4186 wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:19 pm
aristotelian wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:40 am
I think your best recourse is to sue the flipper and/or home inspector for failing to disclose this issue.
This could be very difficult to do and the real issue is that the cost to sue could be greater than the cost to remediate. We looked into this on our house but let’s say we spent $10,000 on an attorney for the chance of getting money back, or spend $8000 on a French drain system that would essentially fix the problem. At the end of the day it cost us $100 to fix.

OP, have you talked to your neighbors and asked them if they get water in the basement and what they do?
What if OP takes the flipper and the inspector to small claim court for $5500 each? $5500 is the maximum for small claim courts in my area, but it maybe different in OP's area. OP's cost to do this will be minimal.

Jags4186
Posts: 4699
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:12 pm

Re: Basement water issues

Post by Jags4186 » Sat Apr 20, 2019 9:37 am

xerxes101 wrote:
Sat Apr 20, 2019 9:21 am
Jags4186 wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:19 pm
aristotelian wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:40 am
I think your best recourse is to sue the flipper and/or home inspector for failing to disclose this issue.
This could be very difficult to do and the real issue is that the cost to sue could be greater than the cost to remediate. We looked into this on our house but let’s say we spent $10,000 on an attorney for the chance of getting money back, or spend $8000 on a French drain system that would essentially fix the problem. At the end of the day it cost us $100 to fix.

OP, have you talked to your neighbors and asked them if they get water in the basement and what they do?
What if OP takes the flipper and the inspector to small claim court for $5500 each? $5500 is the maximum for small claim courts in my area, but it maybe different in OP's area. OP's cost to do this will be minimal.
How would the OP prove that the basement flooding didn’t begin to happen *after* he bought the house and not while the previous owner owned the house without expert testimony and corroborating witnesses? I looked into this issue with an attorney and they said it’s very hard to prove these things and you’ll need to hire an expert witness to say the inspector screwed up. I bet the inspection report is going to have words like efflorescence in there (signs of water intrusion) which will be the out for the inspector. Additionally depending on the state the OP lives in the inspector may only be liable for the cost of his inspection.

Regarding the seller who is a flipper and likely owned the house for a short period of time...will the OP be able to get neighbors to testify that the basement flooded while the flipper owned the house and he lied on the disclosure? How would they know the basement flooded unless they were down there while there was water present or if the flipper went over and told them about it?

You see how this gets tricky?

smitcat
Posts: 5599
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:51 am

Re: Basement water issues

Post by smitcat » Sat Apr 20, 2019 2:27 pm

xerxes101 wrote:
Sat Apr 20, 2019 9:21 am
Jags4186 wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:19 pm
aristotelian wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:40 am
I think your best recourse is to sue the flipper and/or home inspector for failing to disclose this issue.
This could be very difficult to do and the real issue is that the cost to sue could be greater than the cost to remediate. We looked into this on our house but let’s say we spent $10,000 on an attorney for the chance of getting money back, or spend $8000 on a French drain system that would essentially fix the problem. At the end of the day it cost us $100 to fix.

OP, have you talked to your neighbors and asked them if they get water in the basement and what they do?
What if OP takes the flipper and the inspector to small claim court for $5500 each? $5500 is the maximum for small claim courts in my area, but it maybe different in OP's area. OP's cost to do this will be minimal.
In my experience this is a waste of time - but its up to the OP in any case.

Topic Author
numberman
Posts: 35
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2015 3:42 pm

Re: Basement water issues

Post by numberman » Tue Apr 23, 2019 11:36 pm

F150HD wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 9:02 pm
numberman wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:08 pm
(edit: almost 100 years old). ...poured concrete foundation...
a 100 year old home has a poured foundation? are you sure?
That's what everyone who looks at it says. As far as I know that's a common (if not the most common) foundation type for houses like these from that time period. I went looking anyway for something to back this up in general; I couldn't find much quickly, but a couple of things offhand:

https://chicagocooperator.com/article/w ... neath/full:
By the 1910s, poured concrete foundations became more common than stone
http://www.oldhouseweb.com/forums/viewt ... =2&t=24508:
We're in a 1919 Chicago bungalow [...] Our original basement walls are a mix of brick and concrete. The above ground portion of the walls is double course brick, the bottom is poured concrete.

Topic Author
numberman
Posts: 35
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2015 3:42 pm

Re: Basement water issues

Post by numberman » Tue Apr 23, 2019 11:48 pm

Jags4186 wrote:
Sat Apr 20, 2019 9:37 am
I bet the inspection report is going to have words like efflorescence in there (signs of water intrusion) which will be the out for the inspector.
Not to get into the other details of this discussion, but there were no signs of efflorescence on the inside, because you can't see the inside of the bricks/foundation (the drywall covers it everywhere). That's why I don't really see how the inspector would be at fault; there's no way to see anything. (He did use a thermal imaging thing, but didn't note any issues revealed by it.)

If you mean exterior, I didn't think that was indicative of water intrusion, but rather issues with mortar or just the fact that it's outside. (I think there were some areas outside with that, just not by the relevant areas; but I'm not looking at it at the moment.)

Topic Author
numberman
Posts: 35
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2015 3:42 pm

Re: Basement water issues

Post by numberman » Wed Apr 24, 2019 12:22 am

dowse wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 10:04 am
I'm wondering what kind of floor you have in the basement. [...] we finally decided to install tile and simply manage it.
We have tile. And yeah, we might have tried to just "manage" it if the bad pooling had been in a different area, but the current placement of things has me too concerned to try to do that.
IowaFarmBoy wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 6:05 am
Have you looked at something like the link below? [...]

http://waterproof.com/product/sealonce- ... n-section/
I'd never heard of this; thanks for sharing. I'm not really considering DIY for a project of this size (we gotta rip out walls and tile anyway; might as well go all the way if we're doing something like that), but it is interesting.

Topic Author
numberman
Posts: 35
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2015 3:42 pm

Re: Basement water issues

Post by numberman » Mon Jun 24, 2019 11:35 pm

Not that anyone is probably eagerly awaiting updates to my personal situation :) , but in case anyone comes across this thread later, I wanted to correct a couple of things:
numberman wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:53 pm
Honeycombing is a form of concrete deterioration that is caused by bad workmanship when it was poured (however many decades ago).
This may have been a bit harsh. If this wall is almost 100 years old, it may not be due to poor workmanship, but just due to age and the conditions. This is certainly due to poor workmanship if it happens quickly, but this has been around for quite a while; some of the people looking at it said it may just be age.
numberman wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:08 pm
Install an interior drain tile / sump pump system around the entire basement
[...]
Pros:
  • Pretty good guarantee that it will catch water coming in, regardless of reason. Companies tend to actually provide guarantees for this (assuming we install it around the entire basement).
This "regardless of reason" is not quite correct. I had some contractors that were steering me away from this approach, and I thought they were just trying suggest less invasive or less costly solutions. But after trying to go in this direction, one of the contractors said that the water guarantee doesn't cover water entry from above-ground. The membrane they use on the foundation wall isn't designed to catch water from "above" it (it usually only needs to ensure it catches water where its installed), so if there are problems with the masonry higher-up, the water may end up on the wrong side of the system. So some contactors probably were trying to indicate that this wasn't a sufficient solution this problem, but I just wasn't catching on.

Basically they said I needed to do something about the masonry anyway, even with a drain tile system installed. So for now, we're just doing the drain tile in the area without masonry (where we know water comes in around the foundation), and for the other wall, we're going to do the masonry stuff first and see how that goes. We can always add more to the drain tile system later; it's a little more expensive to do it in separate "pieces" of course, but it also means there's less cost up front.

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