Advice, another basement question

Old 12-10-03, 09:18 PM
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Advice, another basement question

Hello everyone! Here's another long wet basement question: My wife and I just purchased a "split-level" style house, circa 1979, about two yeas ago. At that time I was somewhat ignorant about foundation and drainage problems, and unfortunately our home inspectors didn't help much either. One side of our home, about 50 feet, rests in about eight feet of clay. The ground on that particular side is not graded instead it is almost flat. We also have a two-foot overhand running the length of the house and that keeps some water away. Nevertheless, after good couple days of heavy rain, my cinder block basement walls get moist to the touch, and I've noticed some horizontal and step cracks on one 15-foot section of the wall. These cracks were covered over by the previous owner with latex caulk and paint so they weren't noticeable at first. The cracks are at most 1/8 of an inch wide, and this particular section of wall has developed a slight bow (less than 1 inch). One day last month we got about 4 inches or rain over three hours, and consequently about one gallon of water leaked inn where the slab meets the wall.

Now I thought about two fixes and this is where I need some good advice. Option one: get a small track hoe and excavate the outside of the foundation, install a drain, and backfill with stone. The problem here is the expense. Somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000, and we would also have to remove a lot of good landscape and a huge concrete patio. The second option would cost less, about $4,000, and would entail installing an interior drainage system, including a sump pump, pointing the bad wall and using tubular steel to reinforce the foundation walls.

The second option I like because it's cheaper and is much more convenient; however I don't this fix because I would not eliminate the problem at the source, namely, from the outside. What do you think? Even though the second option is a compromise, is it a decent long-term solution? Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you--Marc
Old 12-11-03, 05:15 AM
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IMO, the right idea is to attack the problem at the source, meaning you're first option is the better one, the second option might stave off the water issue for a while, but if you're planning to stay in this home long term, I'd fix it correctly now. One thing is for certain, it won't get any cheaper to fix it right in the future.

Good luck.
Old 12-11-03, 06:07 AM
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Horizontal cracks are serious, especially when bowing of the wall is present. For your information, if you can prove that your home inspector missed an apparent defect or the person who sold you the home knew about this problem and did not disclose it to you, you do have recourse. Secondly, site conditions dictate the appropriate course of action when you are dealing with structual failure. The rule with foundation walls is movement of half the width of the wall, the wall has failed structually. So if the wall is 8 inches thick and it bowed 1 inch, it has reached 25% towards structual failure. My advice to you is have a structual engineer evaluate the situation.

There are several reasons for this. The structual engineer will give you the appropriate course of action based on the site conditions and he will guarantee it. Make sure the guarantee is transferable. Meaning to say if you sell the house, you can not only prove that the problem is solved but the new homeowners can be assured by the guarantee. The documentation may provide you the means to seek recourse against either the inspector, seller, realtors or all of them.

There are several ways to address this problem. Without seeing the site a possible solution that may or may not apply is installing pilasters to prevent any further movement of the wall. Mud jacking the patio to provide a slope to move water away from the house. Landscaping to do the same, especailly the use of a swale. A swale is a slight depression in the ground that provides a path for the water to follow. The swale leads to a portion of the property where the water cannot migrate back to the house.
Old 12-11-03, 06:31 AM
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basement leaking

When putting such an investment into your home, you want to make sure you're spending your money on the right thing. Also, you want to be sure that if you do spend all of that money on one particular system, that you're covered if that system doesn't work. Here is a link that might be of some interest to you, before investing 10 Grand into something without full knowledge of what you're dealing with. Be sure to prepare yourself when talking to contractors. Because the more that you know, the better off you'll be in the long run.

Good Luck,


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