Wet Basement - Solution Selection

Old 03-12-03, 11:34 AM
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Angry Wet Basement - Solution Selection

17 year old house - I purchased 2 years ago. No reported history of water problems in the basement. Heavy snow in the Northeast this year and lots of water in the ground. I have some seepage where the basement floor meets the first course of the concerte block walls. Concentrated on two of the fours walls in the basement - somewhat localized. Walls are otherwise dry to the touch - just damp at the first inch of hieght above the floor. Also have seen some puddles appear in the middle of the floor along hairline cracks (cracks that I did not even notice since the floor and walls were painted and in excellent condition before the water problem). Had some minor efflouressence (sp) at very base of block walls in a few places but building inspector at time of home purchase (2 years ago) indicated that this was a normal and non-serious condition based on the visible evidence.

I assume that the water problem is due to a dramatic rise in the water table due to the recent snow melt and run-off. Have checked gutters and downspouts and they are OK. Have reviewed all the grading and it seems OK as well.

Have scheduled three contractors to visit my home for a consultation and researched the web (which led me here). The first contractor suggested an interior drainage system (both perimeter and cross lateral drainage in the main floor surface - $8000. OUCH. He never examined the exterior conditions (gutters, downspouts or grading) and just started quoting - he may be right but I did not like the experience.

The second contractor actually went outside and looked at the grading and downspouts but had essentially the same diagnosis. He has offered to quote a full perimeter and a two wall solution that he suspects may be enough to releive my problem. He also indicated that if my intent was to ever refinish the space, the full system was my gaurantee against future water problems. I don't have the price yet but the experience was a little more as I expected.

Considering that this is my first event and in the history of the home this seems to be a very infrequent occurance (the basement was semi-finished and without evidence of a water problem before) does this seem to be a radical (and expensive) solution?

I am considering self-installation of a sump pump (near the localized seepage) but do not know if this would be effective over an area as large as my basement floor (20x40) or at a minimum the localized seepage.

Would the installation of a sump at a single point in my basement provide enough "pressure relief" to eliminate what seems to be an infrequent, small scale problem?

Or are the contractors correct and the only solution is to breakup the floor and install the interior drains?

Your advice and experience is appreciated.
Old 03-12-03, 05:17 PM
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I have received several e-mails concerning this issue in the NE and it is apparant that all the weather issues have changed things this winter. Thos with no problems now have them. Doing a band-aid type fix is a waste of money and as I asked someone else..."Can you guarantee that this leakage or damage won't happen again?" Answer...No. Is it alot of money to spend...YES!!

I would suggest this, and it is an except from one message I got..it may sound familiar;

"It has been a real help in understanding the options presented to us by the three contractors that looked at our house. They all seem to have a slightly different approach to dealing with a few issues. For example:

3 vs. 4 sides: Two of the three encourage the full four wall, while the third suggested just the three ( the West - back of the house, North and east - street facing) and to not have the South wall done as it is next to the third level of the house. I am strongly leaning to have all four done to ensure total coverage.

PVC vs. ADS drainage: One company uses PVC and indicated that it helps with the grading to ensure proper drainage. The other two use the corrugated ADS pipe and indicate that the advantage of that is that it is self cleaning and has significantly less mineral buildup due to the water motion in the pipe. One said the PVC pipe would need to be snaked occasionally to remove the mineral deposits. Any thoughts on the pipe type - if one is better than the others?

Mold and mildew control: One company injects a product called Green Earth into the seep hole to control the mold and mildew within the cinder block and help counter the acidity, if there is any. The other two companies do not offer a similar service. Sounds reasonable, but is it necessary? Does it do anything? Is this overkill?

Floor support: The same company that uses the Green Earth product also indicates that it starts its jobs by removing a 10X1 foot section of concrete along the wall and evaluates the dirt/gravel?? under the floor to see if the water has lowered the ground level to a point where the floor may become unstable if additional concrete were removed, If necessary the company injects a floor stabilizing material in the center of the floor (under the slab) to ensure the floor stays where it is supposed to. I am intrigued by this aspect of their offer, which includes a full warranty on the floor, if this is necessary. The question I have is if floor can/ do settle or crack during this type of work? I know from my one peek hole that there is about an inch from the bottom of the slab to the top of the dirt. I just don't know if this is an isolated area or indicative of the rest of the area under the slab.

Cost: I know you indicated your estimate for the 86 LN ft would be between $4,700 and 5,200. Our estimates for all four walls so far have been 1: $5,000, 2: $4,918, which would be reduced by a free Zoeller sump pump (with a five year pump warranty) and a 10% discount if we would be willing to be on a stand by list - we are, for an adjusted price of $4,310, and 3: $3,100, using the same zoeller pump as the $4,300 contractor (but a three year pump warranty). The lower price is appealing but seems so much lower than the other two bids and your estimate, we are wondering if this is too good to be true.

At this point it is between the $4,300 estimate and the $3,100 estimate. The $4,300 estimate includes the Green Earth and floor stabilization if needed. The $3,100 uses the PVC pipe and encouraged use to do just the three wall, although they would be more than happy to do the 4th wall. When speaking with the $3,100 contractor we asked him how he could do it for less and his answer was that he is a small family business, they do not have to pay a franchise fee or buy materials from a certain supplier, and he has the leeway to price jobs in an economical fashion (he does not have to stick to a straight cost per linear foot) - for example, he would charge us $500 more to include the 4th wall (25 ln ft)instead of just the 3 walls. All of these seem to make sense but that is still a big difference. We are requesting references from each and will check with the state licensing board to make sure they are who they say they are. Any way to better evaluate the quality in addition to references, who we will assume will give good recommendations (otherwise why would they offer them)? Both offer lifetime, transferable warranties for the areas worked.

backup vs generator: None of the contractors we spoke with were all that familiar with the water back-up pump. None recommended a battery back up (similar comments to yours) and indicated that when the power goes out in this areas, it is typically out for only a few hours. Instead, the $4,300 and the $3,100 contractors suggested we consider a small backup generator that could also supply power to other things as needed in the event of a power outage. "

Installing a sump pump where you have seepage may or may not be a good idea without doing more. I tend to thing it might be a good location but you need to collect the water and pump it out. What happens when this goes beyound your area of seepage? Then what? I would select a complete system and check references.

Consider your options wisely as this is the time to make improvements that will last.

Hope this helps!
Old 03-26-03, 05:14 PM
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Hi there.. I had a similar situation when I moved into my house a couple years ago.. I too am in NY (central, near Syracuse), and also near a swamp, so my area has large water problems..

When I moved in, there was water in the basement (known problem)... I ended up going for the interior drainage system... I had 3 quotes from different places... One of them was much lower than the others, but left a bad taste in my mouth. So I used that quote to get the other lower... The particular system I have is a 12" wide, 12" deep, which I recommend. I also had bentonite (spelling) injected into the ground outside my walls, which also helps sealing, and they garentee for the life of the house (transferable).. My entire cost about approx $5000.. I had this done in Dec 2001... As of today, March 2003, I have yet to have any water in my basement, and that includes this spring thaw (where they have closed roads near me because of flooding)..

So needless to say, I'm quite happy with the results..
Old 03-26-03, 05:39 PM
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Thanks for the feedback as this is what others need to hear. All the gimmicks and sealers cannot do all that they try and say with long term results that have a LIFETIME guarantee.

Sometimes spending much more than than you want is the best solution so you can get on with your life and enjoy it...not worry about it!

Old 03-27-03, 05:04 PM
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Basement Water Solution

Thanks for your comments and ideas. I have had 4 basement water "specialist" come and quote the work.

Most of them have the same basic system i.e. an interior drain setup. However, the level of professionalism and confidence they project varies. The vendor that I have the most confidence in at this point is B-Dry, a national chain with a national reputation.

The B-Dry firm had a very convincing sales pitch and spent almost 3 hours at my home doing diagnostic work and examining both inside and outside my home. 2 of the other firms never even went outside my home to review grading or downspout conditions. The B-Dry guy was also very happy to explain how the many home-installed solutions (water channels, wall mounted drains with weep holes) all worked. It was something of a shock to have him bring out of his breif case all the glossy materials and warrantees of his competitors... even the ones that I currently have quotes from... he even had samples of their "proprietary drain system (pipes)"... claiming that they were peices of systems he had replaced with the B-Dry system because they don't work.

Of course, they were the most expensive.... but also had the best warrantee. No water in my basement when they are done. Ever. 5 year warrantee on the primary pump and 3 years on the battery backup unit if I so choose.

I have spent alot of time in contractor selection and the project is expensive (ranges from $5600 to $8900) but think I know where and how the water is coming in. I have not made my final choice yet but am leaning towards B-Dry.

Thanks for the feedback. If anyone has any experience with B-Dry, please send a response. I want to know if I should believe it when they claim "they are the best - and have been since 1958"... it is a lot of money.

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