Digging a trench to solve water problem

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Old 07-22-04, 07:33 PM
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Digging a trench to solve water problem

Hi -

My basement has a once-a-year water problem, usually around the time when the ground is still frozen, lots of snow on the ground, and we get a torrential rainstorm on top of it (Feb or Mar around here in Boston). The water comes up through cracks in the floor, not through the walls or the joint where the walls meet the floor.

Someone in work suggested I dig a trench along the side of the house that has the problem, lay some crushed/pea stone on the bottom, put in perforated pipe on top of that covered by landscape cloth, and back fill the trench. This all makes sense to me, and seems like a good way to carry the water away. I know other people who have done this successfully.

However, the trencher I can rent locally will only go down 30 inches. We do have low ceilings in the basement, but all this means is the bottom of the trench would still be a foot above the floor/wall joint. Also, with this machine I will not be digging right along the foundation, but about 16 inches away from it. I have been doing some reading, and when this drainage pipe is included with new construction, it is right at the foundation footing (or at least that's how it is shown in drawings that I've seen).

My question is, given the restrictions on how deep the trencher can go, and the distance away from the foundation, will it still be worth my effort to do this? I was planning to dig two trenches - one as close to the house as possible, the other one two feet further out from the first.

I have yet to call someone who digs trenches for a living (landscaper or sewer-connection person) to compare prices to the rental. I also have not looked around for a machine that will go deeper and/or closer, if one exists that I can afford.

Any advice, comments, suggestions you can give me will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Dave
 
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Old 07-23-04, 08:39 AM
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I would think 30" is plenty deep, HOWEVER, (knew that was coming didn't ya )...18" away from the house may not be good enough, it couldn't hurt I guess, but would be better right up against the house. I've seen trenchers that have the arm all the way to one side rather than in the center.

One more thought on digging 30" deep.....I don't know what the frost line in Boston is, but you may very well hit the water line if you go that deep, also if you have underground electric service ....MUCH MUCH MUCH worse than a little water main break.

Basically what I'm getting at, is call your local utilities and request a locate for digging. Especially since you are planning on the 30" depth.

By the way, the water or electric being in the way wouldn't be the end of the world, you would just have to hand dig around them and maybe some creative pipework, but not a huge problem.
 
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Old 07-24-04, 06:38 AM
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If the water is coming up through the floor 5 feet below[I am assuming you have n 8 foot high basement] where you intend on putting the drain line don't you think it will still come up through the floor before it found the new drain line. I think I would put in a sump pump that would give the water somewhere to go and relieve pressure. You may not need it to pump out water from your basement but it sounds like you need it to pump water out from under your basement. Where to put it in the basement is another question. Is this a finished basement. I hate to keep saying it but my first real attempt at fixing this would be to use Xypex available at Lowes. Do a google on it.If you can apply it correctly that is widen the cracks so that the bottom of the cracks is wider than the top[like a dovetail] and put the Xypex in I think it will solve your problems. It can't hurt to try it and you should do something with the cracks anyway. You may not have to do any more.The water mafind its way in some other way but maybe not. If it did I would first put in the pump to relieve pressure.
 
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Old 07-25-04, 01:17 PM
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Thanks

Thanks, Jproffer and Joneq -

Joneq, you bring up a good point, and it's really the point I was trying to make about my situation. Am I didgging deep enough? Well, I think "deep enough" does depend on what is happening to cause the water to come in, and I'm not sure of the mechanism.

I'm just throwing out ideas here ...

If this only happens when the ground is still frozen, or there is a ton of snow out there and we have a torrential rain, could it be that the water is flowing down (top of ground to below grade) around the frozen parts of the ground, and finding its way in through the floor?

Could it be that because there is a ton of snow, and the rains come, could the rain plus melted snow simply be too much for the ground to sop up, and thereby either raising the water or just finding the path of least resistance into the house?

Also to note, we have a sump hole and a pump at one end of the house. But when we had water the last time, I noticed (incredibly, I might add) that the sump hole was not open to the earth, but rather a sealed pit, I guess with the intent being to pump out the water that had already come in. After I saw this, I got a hammer drill and made swiss cheese out of the bottom of it. I am considering not doing anything for another season to see if this will help enough (the bottom of the pit being opened up, that is).

We have considered putting in another sump hole and pump at the other end of the house (done correctly this time).

Thanks,

Dave
 
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Old 07-25-04, 01:31 PM
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Fix the cracks with the Xypex at your leisure. You may solve the problem. We got 5 inches of rain here in the Big Apple and Joneq's house is bone dry. I shudder to think of the water that would ha gotten in pre Xypex.Talk to youin March
 
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