11:17AM | 06/24/01
Member Since: 06/23/01
1 lifetime posts
I have an inside perimeter basement drain & sump pump that we installed when we built our home. Beneath the french drain we have orangeburg pipe that allows local ground water to enter the pipe and be carried to the sump pump. The perimeter drain itself is about an inch and a quarter wide and open all around my basement floor. This gives me a damp odor in the basement, particularily during the summer months.

My question is: can I cover this "trench" all around my basement by laying pre-treated two x four wood over the opening, box-in my sump pump and vent both to the outside with a vent fan?

Please advise.

[This message has been edited by lh (edited June 24, 2001).]

Jay J

09:17AM | 06/28/01
Member Since: 10/26/00
782 lifetime posts
Hi lh,

I received your e-mail about the 'non-responsiveness' to your post over the past 4 days. Before I attempt to answer your question about the 'odor' you're experiencing in your basement, I'll first attempt to resond to your 'comment' about the non-responsiveness, not only for your benefit but for the benefit of others as well who may be wondering why their posts aren't being answered either.

To date, no one is being financially compensated (i.e., paid money) for their 'services' when it comes to answering posts. (If they are, it's news to me as the Moderator!) I, for one, am not paid. I answer posts to help others where I can, and I try to learn from other Posts and Follow-ups as well. At the same time, even if I (or others) WERE being paid, it costs you nothing for 'our' advice. So ..., where does that leave you (et al.) when there's no response to your question???

Well, it's quite possible that IF someone hasn't read your Post yet, how would they know there's a question to be answered? It is possible that a particular person with the knowledge to answer your question isn't 'around' to answer your question. Maybe they're tired (from working their 'regular job'.) Maybe they're on vacation. Maybe, maybe, maybe, I guess. Also, it's quite possible someone HAS read your question BUT DOESN'T have an answer. It's also possible that your post HAS been read and CAN be answered, BUT the (potential) Follow-upper chose NOT to answer the post (for whatever reason.) One reason why I, sometimes, don't answer posts is because they're either repeatative, or too complicated to answer, or there isn't enough info to offer an answer, or my 'fingers' are very tired, and so on. Again, the Forum is an OPEN forum and none of the 'volunteers' are 'obliged' to answer questions. It may not 'agree' with those folks asking the questions (because you'd have to wonder, "Why have a Forum with no one answering questions?"), but that's the current state of 'affairs'. has given 'us' a Forum to help others, and it's up to 'us' to manage it. With that, sometimes some folks get 'left out'.)

As always, it's BEST to consult a Professional directly EVEN with advice from this Forum. (Understand what it means when I/we say, "I can't see if from here ...") I know it sounds kinda harsh but the Service that's provided is only the Forum itself. Answers to questions are NOT a 'guarantee'. I hope you (and others) understand the 'forces at play' with regards to this 'free service'.

Now, to see if I can offer some useful advice about your problem. In short, no, you don't want to cover the channel. If water is sitting in the channel, add some Bleach to it. You don't need much as a ratio of 1 cup Bleach to 1 gallon of Water will kill mold and mildew. If you want to double or triple the mixture, you can. (After you flush the channel w/the mixture, you can kinda 'scrub' the channel with an old broom to loosen up the mold/mildew for discharge via the sump pump. Then, flush again.) You should periodically dump some of the mixture in the entire perimeter drain. I guess you should do it each time you start to smell the odor. Hopefully, it's not that often.

What you're experiencing is not uncommon. You can periodically dump some of the mixture in the pit, itself, from time to time if you think that's where the odor is coming from. BUT, be sure that your Drain Line isn't emptying right next to your tomatoes or bigonias, or something, because the mixture will KILL the plants. Maybe you can put a temporary or permanent extension on the Drain Line, or set another bucket on the end until you're finished 'flushing' the system.

My best to ya and hope this helps.

Jay J -Moderator

PS: Please don't be discouraged about your posts not being answered. You should still be able to call your Builder about maintenance issues. If they won't help you, just don't forget 'who they are' ...

[This message has been edited by Jay J (edited June 28, 2001).]

[This message has been edited by Jay J (edited June 28, 2001).]

Jay J

11:49AM | 06/28/01
Member Since: 10/26/00
782 lifetime posts
Oh, a couple more 'things' ...

Don't box in your Sump Pump either. You do want air to get 'at' it. Also, don't vent the basement. In doing so, you may create negative pressue AND draw down warm moist air into a cool basement. The latter will cause the water vapor to condense out of the warm air and onto any cool surface.

At the same time, even if you Bleach the channels and pit, you may still smell a dampness in the air. It's quite possible that moisture is permeating through your basement walls (and/or floor), and into the basement, thus, adding to (or causing) the mold/mildew smell. One way to test the moisture flow is to take a piece of plastic and cut it into 2' x 2' pieces. Go ahead and cut up a bunch of them. Then, duct tape ALL 4 sides COMPLETELY SHUT onto a few places on the floor and a few places on EACH and EVERY wall. Wait 2-3 days and peel back the plastic. If you see 'major' dropplets, then moisture is seeping into the basement via the floor/walls. If there's just condensation on the plastic, then that's NOT the source of your excess moisture (which might contribute or be the cause of the odor.) It will take a little detective work to see what's going on.

If, after all this, you still have the odor, post back with what you've done (along with the info about the pump and channels), and tell us what you're experiencing. I, or someone else (hopefully) will reply to you.

Be sure the landscape around the walls OUTSIDE the house have the proper slopage AWAY from the foundation. Also, trim and prune ALL vegetation along the foundation. The BEST defense against moisture in the basement is to see to it that the landscape around the foundation is adequately sloped, has airflow, and dry. Make sure you have gutters that aren't leaking (or even missing.) Make sure that rain water isn't running OVER (or behind) the gutters. Make sure your downspouts are free and clear of debris. And make sure that the rainwater is diverted AWAY from the foundation for at least 3'. (To 'test' all this, during the next rain storm, baring any lightening, don your raincoat and boots and grab an umbrella. Walk around the ENTIRE perimeter of the house , looking both UP and DOWN. If you see any 'problems', fix them.)

My best to ya and hope this helps.

Jay J -Moderator



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