Water seeping through block in foundation


Old 03-19-08, 09:36 AM
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Water seeping through block in foundation

Hey folks, looking for some advice to lend to a client of mine regarding foundation, moisture and settling. I have been retained to complete remodeling inside the house, and the homeowner is seeking assistance from several foundation repair companies to address the moisture problems.

1968 Ranch house on a crawl that is experiencing moisture problems in the crawl space. Some crawl space vents sit below grade and there is a small basement that covers maybe 1/4 of the house footprint that for the most part is dry (some minor water seepage near the basement exterior door which will be replaced). Minor effervess on the block in the basement furnace room, but the walls are dry. The issues are under the parts of the house that sit on the crawl. There is one section of the house that has excessive moisture seeping through the block. They recently had new gutters put on the house that have the leaf guard caps. In this section where the moisture problems are occurring, there are 2 downspouts in close proximity. One downspout terminates above ground and sheds into a mulch bed, the other downspout terminates into a drainage pipe of some kind and it continues below grade and I can not tell where the exit point is. I also have not as of this point been given permission to pull the the downspout out of the ground to determine if the drainage pipe is clogged in anyway. However, this is the section of the house with the major water problems in the foundation.

Logic tells me that these downspouts are the cause of the problem and a relatively inexpensive fix. The foundation guys are telling her another story. I would like to advise her on appropriate fixes and not have her spend needless money on excessive repairs.

Foundation company #1 recommends major excavating and installation of a french drain system around the entire perimeter of the of the house. $26 - $30,000.00 is the quote. My logic says, that because they have a basement in close proximity to this general area of problem crawl, that is dry by the way, that there is already a drainage system built around the foundation well below grade relative to the moisture issues they are experiencing. The problem therefore is happening above this in place drainage and points back to the downspouts.....

Foundation company #2 noted that there are several cracks in the stone exterior. The exterior is Sandstone veneer large 4" by random length with 1/2" mortar lines. There are vertical cracks located dead center under 3 different 6 foot long picture windows in areas not near the moisture problem. He says that the house may be "twisting" on the foundation. There are no apparent corresponding cracks in the plaster walls inside the building. In addition to lifting and stabilizing the foundation, they recommend a sump pump (for a dry basement?) and encapsulating the crawlspace to make it conditioned space. Which for the life of me I can not understand...How does sealing off the inside of the crawl space walls solve the problem of moisture seeping through the block? They are still waiting for the qoute from this guy.

Anyway, these are fabulous clients of mine and I would like nothing better than to help them not waste their money on needless repairs. Any advice that the concrete and foundation guys out there can offer is greatly appreciated. If additional information is needed, please do not hesitate to ask. Thanks in advance...
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Old 04-19-08, 11:40 AM
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Update - happy endings

Eventhough I did not get any takers on my original post, I wanted to update on this situation.

In an attempt to relieve some of the water standing near the foundation, I took a shovel and started to dig in the area I had placed as suspect to the moisture problems. I dug down about a foot and immediately hit wet dirt. Dug a little farther and hit standing water. Baled water and continued digging and found the source of the water.

At some point in the past, they had a sprinkler system installed. Rather than running a line out to the system, they installers tapped directly into the watermain. About 3 ft down, we found a PVC compression Tee scabbed onto a 1 inch copper watermain. The compression fitting had failed.

The clients are now facing a plumbing service call as opposed to major renovations. Net savings, $30,000.00

BTW - the second quote came in at $40k -
Old 04-19-08, 01:04 PM
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Thank you for posting back and sharing your determination to find the source of the moisture. Congratulations!

Once the plumbing issue is corrected, it may well solve all moisture issues. There are, however, still some issues that need to be addressed.

"Some crawl space vents sit below grade." Amazing! These can be dug out like window wells, French drain installed with slope to carry excess water out into dry well. The window/vent well can be filled with gravel. This would eliminate potential for water to enter through foundation vents.

According to Admiral Steel for window wells:

WIDTH: Well should extend a minimum of 3" on either side of window/opening.
Width is the inside diameter, not including mounting flanges.

HEIGHT: Allow a minimum of 8" below the window/opening and 2" above the finished grade.

PROJECTION: Measured perpendicular from the center of the well opening.

Photo Credit: Admiral Steel

Gutters and downspouts can still get clogged with the leaf guards. Inspect and clean out to make sure gutters and downspouts carry water away from structure. Downspouts should be connected to French drain and water redirected to drainage ditch, drain, or dry well at least 10 feet from foundation.

Drainage pipes can become clogged. Taking water hose and running water down the downspout to determine if water backs up may be a sufficient test. Digging down to where drain is attached to gutter would reveal if there is backup of water at the connection. Downspout draining into mulch bed may pose no drainage issues as long as the bed is not near the foundation and the lawn is sloped toward the bed.

Soil around foundation should slope to carry away excess water. Typical slope is 1 foot/50 feet.

Crawl space needs to be inspected for mold and mildew. Areas that remain damp 24-48 hours are prone to mold/mildew. Too, termites and other woodboring insects tend to be attracted to areas where there are moisture issues. Inspect insulation to see if it is dry and facing (vapor retarder) is turned toward the heated area above.

Crawl space should be dry. Dehumidifiers and fans may be required to dry it out.

8 mil minimum plastic vapor retarder should be installed, overlapped and taped, and run up sides of foundation and held in place with silicone caulk. This will retard moisture and humidity from rising through the subfloor.

Pat yourself on the back for a job well done! Again, congratulations!
Old 04-19-08, 03:32 PM
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Thanks Twelve, pretty much everything you have said is in place already including the window well you have pictured. I think we are on the right track and I will post back should anything else change.

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