Why do we have water in our basement?

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Old 03-29-05, 09:31 AM
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Why do we have water in our basement?

Hello to all -

Why do we have water in our basement?

My family and I live just outside of Boston, MA. We get water in our basement only with the following (the ones we know to be true and consistent) conditions: it is late winter/early spring (February and March), there is snow on the ground (doesn't matter how much), and we experience a long-duration (more than 8 hours) heavy/torrential rain.

What is confusing is that we have experienced long-duration torrential rainstorms during the months of May through November/December, and the basement has remained dry.

The water does not come in through the basements walls, or through the floor/wall seam. Rather, it percolates up through cracks in the floor. It is worse on one side than the other, but that's only because, I believe, the land slopes away from the house on the "good" side.

I would really like to get a lot of opinions on this, so that I can proceed with a plan that will lead to a solution.

Last fall, I was about to rent a trencher, and proceed to bury perforated pipe on the "bad" side of the house, with all the crushed stone, etc in the plan (I really asked a lot of questions to do it as correctly as possible). But the trencher would only go to within 18" of the foundation, and someone told me not to waste my time, because the pipe had to be right along the foundation footing. I proceeded to get an estimate from a contractor to do the job, putting the pipe right along the footing; although the cost seemed reasonable, we just could not afford it.

Someone else told me the problem is due to a high water table, and there is nothing we can do to solve the problem. But if this were the case, why does the water come in only during a certain time of the year under certain conditions?

Any opinions that anyone can give will be very much appreciated. I will offer as much information as possible when/if a dialogue gets going.

Thank you,

David
 
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Old 03-29-05, 10:26 AM
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How many and how long are the cracks where the water is coming up? It may just be easier to chisel them out and patch them up with hydraulic cement.

That will prevent the water from coming up through the cracks, but you haven't really done anything to stop the water from getting under floor in the first place (if there is anything you can do), so it may just reappear in a different location.

Do you have a sump pit and sump pump?
 
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Old 03-29-05, 10:41 AM
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Thanks

Hi, Blizzard -

Not to sound lazy, but there seem to be too many cracks, some more obvious than others, to hog them out and fill them. Also, as this keeps occurring, a new spot seems to appear each time.

Also, I was told that hydraulic cement would not work in this case because of the pressure coming up under the floor. Whether that person was correct, I don't know because I didn't try it.

As far as a sump hole, funny you should mention it: we have a sump hole and a pump, but I do not think it was put in correctly. From what I gather and observe, the original owner (he built the house himself) seemed to throw in the towel as far as water in the basement. The sump hole is at one end of the house, and the floor is slightly sloped towards it. BUT, the sump hole is a closed, concrete-block pit, that is not opened to the outside earth. I guess the guy figured to pump out the water after it got into the basement.

Last year, after a really bad "event", I got a hammer drill and attempted to make swiss cheese out of the bottom of the sump hole. Water now comes in from the outside earth, but certainly not enough to relieve any pressure under the foundation. I was considering having someone come in and cut that hole correctly, and also add another hole somewhere in the middle of the cellar close to the "bad" side. What do you know about sump holes, and should I even be considering this?

Thanks,

David
 
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Old 03-29-05, 11:38 AM
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I want to add this observation:

In an example of how the water comes into the basement, it rained heavily yesterday for at least 8-9 hours (starting around 9 AM), and then lightened up a little bit in the evening. It was still raining lightly at 11:30 PM, when I checked the basement and found no water anywhere. This morning at 7 AM, one half of the TV room rug was wet, and water was leeching in through all of the known cracks in the floor.

This is the way it always is - we think we are safe, and then it all of a sudden starts coming in.

David
 
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Old 03-29-05, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by dbruno
Also, I was told that hydraulic cement would not work in this case because of the pressure coming up under the floor. Whether that person was correct, I don't know because I didn't try it.
This isn't true, you just have to be careful and make sure the hydraulic cement sets up properly in the crack - i.e, you may have to make some type of form to keep it in the crack while it sets up. Believe me, I had a relative that was in the Navy during WWII, they used hydraulic cement to temporarily patch torpedo holes in the ships so they could get back to base for permenant repairs. Hydraulic cement will still setup even when it is completely submerged.

If you have a lot of cracks this probably isn't the best line of defense, and it seems like the ground water needs to build up quite a bit of pressure before the water starts to come in, so maybe you can fix it without filling in the cracks.

It doesn't sound like you have drain tile around the footings that are draining into the sump. You may not be able to make the sump effective without tearing up the floor and putting some in. But that is out of my area of expertise.

If you don't have many plants around the foundation of your house, I have heard of people having some success by burying roll plastic around the house and forcing the rain to soak in far enough away that it couldn't reach the basement. I think most of these folks had leaky walls though.
 
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Old 03-29-05, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Blizzard
If you have a lot of cracks this probably isn't the best line of defense, and it seems like the ground water needs to build up quite a bit of pressure before the water starts to come in, so maybe you can fix it without filling in the cracks.
Thanks for the response. I'm not being unappreciative, but I am not quite sure what you mean by "maybe you can fix it without filling in the cracks", without having a suggestion as to what I might do about the ground water (unless the suggestion was digging up the floor).

David
 
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Old 03-29-05, 02:16 PM
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Basement floor leaks

Water that comes up through basement usually indicates that the water table has risen above the level of the basement floor. Water pressure constantly pushes beneath concrete trying to get through.

Water problems caused by high groundwater levels tend to be serious and require serious prevention measures. Perimeter drains and sump pumps can be installed to carry water outside and away from structure. The most difficult & effective solution requires excavation around the foundation, sealing and applying drainage board to foundation walls, installing drains along foundation to carry water away from structure. Such corrective measures tend to be beyond the expertise of a DIYer.

Cracks in basement floor can be chiseled out and filled with hydraulic cement. Basement walls and floors can be sealed.

Keep gutters & downspouts clear. Make sure downspouts have drains that carry water away from foundation at least 6 feet or more. Splash guards do not direct water far enough away from structure. Make sure soil around foundation is sloped enough to carry away excess moisture.
 
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Old 03-29-05, 08:16 PM
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Hi -

Thanks for the information, twelvepeople. Allow me to ask some pretty simple-minded questions.

If high-water table is the problem, why is it only occurring during the early spring months? Is it simply a matter of having the snow constantly melting, contributing to making the ground-water level rise, leaving "no extra room" in the ground for the water from the torrential rain?

Why does it rain heavily for hours and hours, and the basement remains dry, then all of a sudden (relatively speaking), the water starts coming in? Right now as I type (10 PM), water is still seeping in, but it stopped raining 12 hours ago, and I am not quite getting it.

Two years ago we installed gutters on the house, and the downspouts go into PVC pipes that carry the water well away from the house, and the gutters are clear. We hoped that this would be a big help, but it has not been (we are still glad we did it).

My wife and I have discussed raising the TV-room floor with a new product we saw, which is basically wood panels on rubber feet (I know I am not supposed to mention brand names). To assist in ventilating under the panels, we would drill holes through the sole plates of the stud walls that encompass the room (only one wall is an outside wall), so that hopefully air would flow and help to dry it out. We realize this would not solve the problem of water coming in, but would keep the TV room dry while we worked towards/saved money for solving the problem. Our first step towards this may be to call a cement cutter, have a second sump cut in the unfinished part of the basement, and reassess how this is working after the next "event". Can you (or anyone) comment on this plan, please?

Thank you for your time,

David
 
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Old 03-29-05, 10:57 PM
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It takes a while for the water table to rise. If ground is already saturated from previous rain(s) and melting snow, and then you get another heavy rain, the water table tends to rise. During drier months of the year, water table tends to be lower and heavy rains may not raise the water table high enough to push through basement floor.

Installing a flooring system over the problem will not be addressing the problem. A second sump pump may help pump out more water entering basement, but it will not address the issue of water entering the basement.
 
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Old 03-30-05, 06:09 AM
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Originally Posted by dbruno
Thanks for the response. I'm not being unappreciative, but I am not quite sure what you mean by "maybe you can fix it without filling in the cracks", without having a suggestion as to what I might do about the ground water (unless the suggestion was digging up the floor).

David
What I was saying was that since you say it takes quite a bit of rain before the water can build up enough pressure to work up through the cracks, if you can divert the water to the sump or away from the house to begin with, you maybe able to solve the problem and not worry about repairing the cracks.

I personally think an indoor sump pump (at least here in the south) is like closing the barndoor after the horse gets out. You have to basically invite the water under you house before you can remove it. Much better to place drain tile around the outside of the foundation and run it to an outdoor sump pit, that way you remove the water before it gets under your house.

Since you can't afford to do that, you need to talk to a contractor that can build a system under the floor, that will get the water pumped out before it reaches a level that will force water through the cracks.

I don't think the raised flooring system would work, it isn't designed to combat constant water problems and you may end up with mold problems if the water can't evaporate before more comes in.
 
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Old 03-30-05, 08:50 AM
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Hi, twelvepole -

Thanks for helping me understand the water-table mechanism.

I do realize by installing the subfloor panel system is not dealing with the water entering the basement. We only thought of this because water enters once a year, and it would be a relatively inexpensive way to keep the TV room dry for the entire year, while we gradually work towards a final (?) solution to the problem.

If I can go back to my original post, and ask you about my ditch-digging effort that I postponed: the issue was that the ditch-digging machine could not get right up against the foundation, and could not dig as low as the footings. If I went ahead and did this, do you think it would contribute to keeping the water-table level down, or would it be of no help at all? I had actually planned to dig two or three parallel ditches, six feet apart, running the length of the house. This is I guess assuming that the pipes would carry heavy rain water and snow melt away before it contributed to the water table.

Thank you,

david
 
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Old 03-30-05, 09:01 AM
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Hi, Blizzard -

Thanks you for the response and the helpful suggestions. I can understand what you mean about an indoor sump. My wife and her family lived in an area of our state that claimed to have the highest water table in the state, and everyone had an indoor sump with pump, so I'll run it by her again.

I also understand the concern about mold forming under the raised-floor panels. The reason I'm not as concerned is because the water problem happens once a year, and is not at all a constant problem (if it were, and we had seen water during other times of the year, we probably would not have put in a room down there). I would probably ask someone from the company about it, but my thinking is if I drill holes through the sole plates of the three interior walls of the room for ventilation, it may allow enough air movement under the raised panels to dry out.

Thanks,

David
 
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Old 03-30-05, 08:59 PM
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Why do we have water in our basement?

A raised floor is like trying to solve a problem with smoke and mirrors. The water will come in and you won't see it until it gets too deep, but it still will always be there. Drilling a few little holes will not ventilate it and dry it out between "floods" unless you are moving a lot of dry air, not a little damp or humid air, for positive continuous circulation. Concrete is hygroscopic and it will absorb some moisture and kep it under thr floor.

A fungus does not dry when it dies out. The spores are there just waiting for the next shot of moisture to bring it back to life.

When you build a house, you dig a hole that is a swimming pool unless you remove the water from it. Usually people put a basement in the pool and build a house on top of it. Goo, chemicals and paint do not solve the problem.

Positive drainage around the home either inside or outside of the footings is the best and only guarantee. Good builders use two continuous loops (with a means for flushing and cleaning if necessary) one inside and one outside the footings. Drain these to a sump or to "daylight". For your situation get as close to this as possible for your configuration or finances. These is nothing wrong with using one loop or even a long run along three walls. If you not going to invest a lot of time and money on finishing the basement and you plan on selling in 5 or 10 years, goo, paint and sealers may be O.K.

If you are serious, you can put a continuous loop inside a basement without tearing up the complete floor and having the outside walls from pushing in. All it takes is dedication and a few friends or greedy teenagers. Plan on about a month - it took me that long for a single inside run along three walls working some nights and a day or two on weekends.

Dick
 
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Old 03-31-05, 02:01 PM
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Thanks, Dick, for the helpful advice. We are about to get rained upon heavily again on Saturday, so we are beginning to move a lot of stuff around to circumvent extra work after the deluge.

I'm sure I speak for many people, but if money were not an issue ......

David
 
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Old 04-07-05, 09:37 AM
milkski
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Dbruno,

I had the same thing happen to our "new" home. Water came thought the cracks.

After doing extensive research the only true way to stop this is to install drain tile around the perimeter of the basement. Period

I've had many pros come out to the house......

Basically the avg cost was @ $6000 to have it installed and this included the pump and battery backup.
 
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Old 04-07-05, 06:28 PM
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do we have water in our basement?

It is not alway necessary to do the outside.

Interior drain tile can also do the job and it is a possible DIY job if can get some help. This is if you have access to the inside floor slab. If you can keep the inside free of water below the bottom of the footings you have effectively lowered the water table in the area around the home. You may have a temporary rise in the exterior water level immediately after a storm so the intererior wall treatment is more important. If the water can get through a wall you are trying to seal, it certainly can get under the footings unless you have the greatest seal in the world between the footing and the soil under it.

Interior systems do a better job of eliminating a water from coming in between the wall/floor joint or through any cracks in the slab. This is a plus.

You do have a choice - depending upon your situation.

Dick
 
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