Latest Discussions : Basement & Foundation


08:41AM | 08/06/01
Member Since: 08/05/01
4 lifetime posts
So I've just moved in this house built in 1997. The basement is finished (carpet and dry wall put up) and the carpet in an area along the east wall is wet. The previous owner disclosed water water
problems the last two springs (but not the first in 1998), but claimed it was fixed with some re-landscaping.

I'm about to spend over $3000 to do landscaping in an attempt to correct the problem. The landscaper making the bid pointed out several reasons why the
apparent do-it your-selfer job the previous owner tried quite likely had no effect whatsoever in re-routing draining surface water. Judging from the exterior slope it does seem that re-sloping everything away from the house could do a lot of good.

My conundrum is this. I've heard that another likely scenario is that the drainage tile (8 feet down along the entire back wall in my case) is not functioning properly (i.e. broken, crushed, blocked, etc.).
To fix this I'm told is a costly problem (around $10,000 )since it involves extrememe care with a back-hoe (care not to
accidentally push in the foundation while digging).

But why spend the $3000 on re-sloping first if it is bad tiling? Which comes to my question. Can one check whether the tiling is any good before digging down 8 feet and spending ten grand? Or doesn't it
matter if the drain tile is crushed and blocked if slopage solves the problem anyway? I'm wondering if they can stick a roto-router type thing through the drain tile starting from the basement sump-basket in an effort to check that all the tile is clear.
Or is there some other way to check the tile before proceeding further. There is a window well with drain tile at the bottom. Is it possible that this connects with the tile around the house and I could hook up a
garden hose to it and see if water flows around and into the sump basket in an effort to see if the tile is clear? It seems that there would be a less expensive option
in determining whether the tile is damaged before spending the big bucks to dig down and fix it. Can anyone help?

Jay J

11:37AM | 08/06/01
Member Since: 10/26/00
782 lifetime posts
Hi toenning,

You have a lot going on here. What you're asking is what a Contractor might try if you hired him to 'test' out your drain tile system. He'd check here and there and everywhere to see what goes where. PERHAPS, and I said PERHAPS, you can find out who built your Unit, and see if they'll give you the plans on how the perimeter drain system was built. Anything is possible (regarding 'diagnosing' your problem(s)), but I can't say from here. In short, the contractor is going to bid the job in a worst case scenario based on his limited knowledge of how things might 'work'.

Yes, relandscaping may be the answer, but what happened w/the landscape outside that it has to be redone? Did rain wash the topsoil away? Did it settle? Is there a need for gutters up at the roof line? Did the previous owner plant a lot of 'bushes and flowers' insofaras it softened up the soil so much that water is getting so deep that it's making its way into the house??? Yes, you'd be surprised what a little landscaping and gutters will do to keep water out of the basement.

NOW, I live in SE PA. My M-I-Law just had about 32' of earth HAND-DUG up by 2 'kids', where they dug down an average depth of about 4'. They dug down to the footer which is what the foundation sits on. They sealed 3 cracks as well as the ENTIRE foundation, then layed fabric, then layed drain gravel, then they installed black perforated drain pipe, then installed more gravel, then layed more fabric, then covered it back up by hand. They dug out a 'width' of about 3' from the foundation wall. The cost: LESS than $3,000. I don't know where you live but how does that sound? I don't think the use of a backhoe would be more than the manual dig. There was no way they could get a back-hoe in there.

Maybe you should look for a COntractor that specializes in Foundation Concrete. Visit your local Stone & Gravel Quarry, and ask the guy behind the desk for a few leads. It MAY be worth digging up the ground BUT, before I do ANY digging, I'd look into what caused the previous re-landscaping to 'fail'. I wish I could see it from here.

For now, my best to ya and hope this helps.

Jay J -Moderator

PS: If there's access to the drain tile system (assuming you have a sump pump that leads to it), yes it can be tested. THere are cameras that Sewer Contractors use ALL the time to video Sewer Systems for inspection and leak purposes. I'm not sure if sticking a garden hose in the drain tile system will work. You MAY have to dump an AWFUL lot of water in there for it to come out the other end. This tile is usually perforated on the bottom to PURPOSEFULLY allow water to drain DOWN. Should it rise up to the height of the drain, THEN it begins to use the pipe as a 'path of least resistance'. To reach this point could take an awful lot of water. In short, skip this test unless the Contractor thinks it's a good idea ...


03:13PM | 08/06/01
Member Since: 08/05/01
4 lifetime posts

Thanks for your input Jay-J ...

I guess I could expand on the previous
landscape job. Basically, landscape rock
was built up a 12-16 inches a few feet
from the foundation along the side of the
house with problems. this was then filled
with drain tile, plastic, and dirt. The
landscaper noted that since everything is
so level around this area nothing is preventing water from using the same path
it may have been before. The water will come
up to the wall, soak through and then be under the plastic ... I don't know, maybe
it had a chance to do a little something,
the landscaper said it probably does nothing
since the overall slopage problem is still the same.

Jay J

04:28PM | 08/06/01
Member Since: 10/26/00
782 lifetime posts
All you need is a MINIMUM of 1/4" per foot, for a minimum distance of 3' from the foundation to help keep water away. This is assuming that, if done, the water won't pool, thus, adding the risk that if it rises, it will end up at the foundation anyway.

You can go 1/2" per foot for 3', the more the better (w/o ending up w/a 'hill'.) I think grading the area a little to get some 'height' is a good start. Just be sure that you don't 'encourage' termites into the house by 'closing the gap' between the ground and the sill. If you have plants and mulch back there, I'd remove them to increase air flow and allow sunlight in there to help keep things dry. If the soil is constantly 'wet', then when it rains, it will EASILY get to the footing. See what I mean?

Also, do LOOK UP to the roof. The source of the water may be coming from the roof (indirectly) as well as directly from Mother Nature. If you have more ?'s, post back.

My best to ya and hope this help.

Jay J -Moderator

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