Latest Discussions : Basement & Foundation


09:35AM | 01/03/03
Member Since: 01/02/03
2 lifetime posts
Help! I purchased a home, built 1931, in September. We've had a drought for the past 2 years, but are making up for it in the past 3 months.

Christmas morning I awoke to heavy rains and water in the basement--some is seeping in through the crack between the foundation and the wall, but there is one crack in the wall where water literally pours in when it rains.

This crack brought in about 30 gallons of water on a 1.68" rainfall over 10 hours that day. When it stopped raining, the leak stopped.

I had new gutters put in immediately, taking the downspouts out of the underground pipes, so now the gutters drain with plastic drain pipes about 18" from the house.

But New Year's Day I awoke to more rains and more flooding--this time 50 GALLONS from the one crack over a period of about 9 hours and under 2" of rain.


1. poured foundation, some vertical cracks, have been checked out by a building contractor and a home inspector. Some of the cracks leak, not all.

2. Large pin oak in front of house, same wall where there are cracks.

3. Front yard is flat, yard grades downhill to back yard.

4. Leak is toward front of house on driveway side, but is relatively dry aboveground--no puddling where the leak would be. Driveway has been checked out and water is draining properly toward back yard.

5. Gutters, roof both check out fine. There are 5 gutters now, and while one is just uphill from the leak it is draining properly down the driveway and is about 18" from the house. No water from that gutter is getting anywhere near the house.

6. There is an enclosed front porch just in front of the wall where the leak is. Underneath the porch it is BONE DRY.

7. There are French drains but no sump pump in the basement. There are holes cut in the floor with plexiglass covers--the drain to the rear of the house has a trickle of water; the drain to the front of the house is standing water that's not moving. I stuck a 6-8" snake through as far as I could and hit no obstructions.

8. Basement floor also slopes toward the rear. Leak is to front of house.

9. Near 'waterfall' leak are the underground pipes for gutters that run parallel to the house--before I had gutters replaced I could hear the gutter draining down the pipe, and it sounded as if it were draining to the back yard just fine.

Now that the gutters are out of the ground, I don't hear any water running through those pipes. The holes have been covered up but not filled in.

10. The home inspector managed to open up the water meter cover--the dials to the meter are under about a half-foot of water. I called city/county folk, and the storm drain guy came out and opened the drain that is downhill from me--that water is running. However, the guy couldn't find the uphill drain.

11. Neighbor swears the previous owner had a dry basement--he used to brag about it, and I called the 86-year-old previous owner, who told me that at most he had maybe a couple of gallons after a really heavy rain.

And when I originally looked at the house, there was so much crap in the basement [the previous owner ran a flea market business] that there's no way the basement wouldn't be mildewed if it was this bad.

12. Plumbing pipes inside aren't leaking, and anyway it only happens when it rains. When the rain stops it's okay.

13. Water is light brown.

I will gladly pay for waterproofing or repairs, but it seems to me that this leak is so significant that waterproofing isn't going to do anything but move the problem to another area. I need someone to help me find the problem before I can pay to repair it.



Keith Martin

12:32PM | 01/16/03
Member Since: 01/15/03
20 lifetime posts
It sounds like your water table is rising and allowing water to run along a tree root and to the foundation wall.

1. Area is bone dry under porch and next to wall. This eliminates runoff

2. Large pinoak in front, area where cracks are

3. gutter drains have been disconnected, eliminating them as a source

4. Water is brown.

Brown or colored water is generally associated with moving water. Since runoff has been eliminated from the equation, I suggest that the water is picking up tannic acid from the tree roots. This could make it brown in color.

Have someone inject the crack for you with a urethane grout. This is not an expensive process but should not be done by the average homeowner. The grout is injected under high pressure, up to 5000 PSI into drilled holes that bisect the crack.

In this case I would use a hydrophyllic grout with fast reaction time.

You can expect to pay 40-50$ per linear foot of crack, this service should take about 1-2 hours and you can consider the crack fix as permanent.

Good luck and oh yeah, by the way, I might consider getting rid of the Pin oak. If indeed the roots are causing this problem, the problems are only going to get worse.

Keith Martin


12:59AM | 01/17/03
Member Since: 01/14/03
262 lifetime posts
If I had this kind of problem, I'd be very tempted to go outside to the spot where the leak is, and start digging with a shovel. I'd dig a hole deep enough reach the point where the leak is inside and go just a little deeper (do this on a dry day, of course), then I'd cover the hole with planks and plywood for safety....and wait. I'd wait until the next rain storm, and then I'g go out and uncover the hole, and watch what happens, so I could see where the water is coming from.

Then I'd have a little more information to go forward with to find a fix. Ultimately, water proofing is done best from the outside as the hydraulic pressure of groundwater on the outside will seek a weak spot in any barrier (like a foundation), and push it's way through.

The suggestion to get rid of the tree might also be your ultimate decision, but there are other reasons for groundwater turning brown. Other reasons for getting rid of the tree would be things like root pressure on foundation, roots having borrowed their way into old drain lines along the foundation, thereby blocking the flow in the pipe, which will find it's way out at a weak spot...and then perhaps into the basement, and damage to the house from falling branches (or trees in a wind storm).


05:30AM | 01/19/03
Member Since: 01/02/03
2 lifetime posts
Thanks for the two replies. I've had so many people looking at the basement that I'm tempted to start charging admission! And I haven't gotten the same answer twice.

The only thing everyone agrees on is that I do have a water problem that, despite what the previous owner says, has been going on for years. And everyone agrees that the drought has most likely changed a lot of things underground.

I had the city check the water from their end, and my plumber checked from the meter to the house to see if there was a leak underground. Both checked out fine [though it's interesting to note that the day after the city came out the daily half a gallon I had been mopping up for 10 days suddenly and completely dried up].

I did call the old owner, who told me that at the point where there's a major crack in the front wall [and that slow seepage of water] there had been old galvanized water pipe. They replaced the pipe about 30 years ago with copper pipe, and it now comes into the house in a different spot. However, they left the old galvanized pipe in place after capping it off. So it's possible that pipe is channeling water directly to my basement.

Everyone has a different answer as to whether or not the cracks are a structural problem...the mason says yes, and to dig from the outside, find the source of the problem, and replace the whole wall. But that would mean taking out the enclosed front porch, which I then wouldn't be able to afford to replace. Waterproofers all say that they can get rid of the water problem, but they don't address the cracks, and I know if I went to sell the house I'd have to deal with them.

Someone else said they tore up their driveway, their sidewalk and their front wall and never did find the source of their water problem.

A structural engineer came out as a favor to me and looked at the cracks, and said that while the house is settling, he didn't think they posed a structural problem. He said that if I get rid of the water problem I should be fine--he did the rough math and said that structurally, everything checked out.

Everyone says the grading is fine, so I've eliminated that as the problem. I talked to the next-door neighbor, who lives in a 150-year-old house; she said that she has a brand-new crack in the tile in the basement of her house running the length of the room, so it sounds as if she also is victim to a rising water table.

I've had two people say that the tree is making the problem worse, but then one person said that on a pin oak there's only one large tap root, and that those roots at the wall would be pretty fine. The house is on a fairly busy road, so without the tree there I'd be pretty exposed, so I'm reluctant to take it down [besides having just spent a fortune to thin out the entire tree]. I'm more inclined to put the house back in order and sell it in a couple of years, and let the next people decide whether or not to take it out.

Fortunately, it's only been snowing, so I haven't had to deal with any more flooding.

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