Why is there a hole in my basement?

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Old 09-02-12, 07:52 PM
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Why is there a hole in my basement?

Hi everyone,

Earlier this year I bought a house built in 1948 that I like quite a lot. It happens that there is a square hole in the basement -- 3.5' x 3.5' x 1" --that is found in one corner of the house. See photo that follows.

I've talked with the previous owner of the house (who had lived there for the last 40 years) and he says that the hole was there when he first moved in. The home inspector didn't know why it was there but he wasn't too worried. I had some foundation experts look at it, and, though they didn't know why the hole was there, they recommended I cover it up with concrete to prevent water from coming in.

We've just had a heavy rain -- about 15 cm in the last 8 hours -- and when this happens a small fraction of the sand at the very corner of the wall becomes damp (as you can see in photo.) Other than that, there has never been any seepage into the house, and the past owners have said that there has never been any problem with water in the basement.

So I am not overly concerned with the hole, but I want to know if there is any reason why it might be there. I would like to cement the hole over, but only if the hole serves no purpose.

Does anyone here know why this hole might be here? Is there something about regulations or practices in the late 1940's that might have led to the creation of this hole?

BTW, there is no sump pump in the basement.

Here is the pic, and thanks for reading.

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Darryl
 

Last edited by ray2047; 09-02-12 at 08:52 PM. Reason: Correct typo.
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Old 09-02-12, 08:21 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

there is a square hole in the basement -- 3.5' x 3.5' x 1"
How thick is your basement slab? Have you tried digging down into the sand?
 

Last edited by ray2047; 09-02-12 at 08:53 PM. Reason: Correct typo in quote.
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Old 09-03-12, 12:01 AM
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Best guess is that it was built that way to provide a location for a future sump pump pit, should the need ever arise. Without requiring demolition of the concrete floor. Smart builder.
 
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Old 09-03-12, 12:10 AM
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Built-in cat litter box?

Seriously, you need to do some exploratory surgery and dig out several inches minimum of the sand/dirt. I suspect there is a sewer drain cleanout or possibly a whole house sewer trap down there but no way to be sure without some excavation.
 
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Old 09-03-12, 07:12 AM
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Could also be access to a plumbing rough in or clean out to the street? I would dig around and see what you can find.
 
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Old 09-03-12, 09:39 AM
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Hi everyone, thanks for your replies.

I did some exploratory digging this morning and can report the following:

  • The concrete is 3" thick.
  • Once you get past the 3", you just hit dirt and can keep on digging.
  • There doesn't appear to be any sort of pipe or grate going underneath the hole -- unless it's a very deep one. Although I didn't excavate the entire hole, I did dig 10" down in the centre and at one corner of the hole without finding anything. I also pushed the full length of my 10" spade around the two most accessible edges of the hole without hitting anything.

I did find a really old silver teaspoon near the top of one of the edges. Maybe the person digging the hole just got tired and gave up?

I like the idea that maybe the hole was left there to support a future sump pump. I might take advantage of that since I don't have one.

I was thinking, too, with Tolyn, that maybe this is where access was gained to a sewer or water line. I remember when buying the house having read some municipal documents (permits maybe) noting the City's approval to let a sewage or water line be built from the house to the main line. Unfortunately, there was no architectural survey highlighting its location.

Darryl
 
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Old 09-04-12, 11:27 AM
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Hi again,

I just remembered while reading through the responses that I don't think there is anything to be found in this hole.

Before the foundation guys came and repaired my foundation cracks (I had two of them), they had the various utility companies come in and locate their lines, etc. Power and phone are above-ground lines that come in at the back of the house, while natural gas and water are below-ground pipes that also come in at the back of the yard.

I guess the sewer could run under the hole (the location survey only states that foundation work wouldn't come across it in the course of their work -- not where it's located), but is that any reason not to cement the hole over?

Darryl
 
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Old 09-04-12, 12:16 PM
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Darryl, The size and location of the slab opening is typical of a sump install. However, sumps usually have foundation or underslab drain lines feeding them. I don't think a sump without drains would do much good.
 
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Old 09-06-12, 02:22 PM
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Hi everyone,

Thanks for all you responses this last week. After reading over the responses and digging around the hole without finding anything, I decided to cement it over --- which I did yesterday.

Enjoy the rest of the summer.

Darryl
 
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Old 09-07-12, 01:09 PM
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Glad you resolved it, and thanks for the feedback.
 
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