Should I finish my basement? (water worries)

Old 02-03-15, 06:21 PM
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Should I finish my basement? (water worries)

Hi all, I am new here. I appreciate in advance any advice I can get! I am considering finishing my basement, but am concerned with how often my sump pump runs. The sump nearly always has water in it, and runs most of the year except during droughts (I live in Indiana). When the ground is very saturated, the pump will run every minute or so. I've got gutters that steer the water about 20 feet way from the house. I have never had any flooding, and have a battery back up pump.

I'd like to finish the basement, but am concerned with putting all the work in and coming down one day and finding two inches of water on the floor because the pumps didn't work for some reason. Maybe I'm worrying too much about it.

Is it a bad idea to finish it?

Old 02-04-15, 07:57 AM
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I have relatives in Ohio with a finished basement. The entire county is pancake flat so even though they are meticulous about grading, gutters and downspouts the basement sumps still got a near continuous flow of water.

They have two sumps and a second pump so they are protected against one pump failing. Then the power went out for days after a big storm the basement flooded several feet deep. They gutted it and re-did the basement and bought a generator to run the pumps during an outage. Then, they went on a week long cruise and a storm knocked out the power when they were gone and the basement flooded again.

They again gutted and re-did the basement. Then they were paranoid and will not travel more than a few hours from home and certainly would not go anywhere if there was the slightest chance of bad weather. They became prisoners to their basement. After years of being fearful of a power outage they finally broke down and installed a automatic backup generator system and could finally take a vacation with some peace of mind.
Old 02-04-15, 08:11 AM
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Bad idea? Maybe. That said, it's your house and you get to decide whether the risk is worth the extra living space.

Have you moisture tested the slab yet?
Old 02-04-15, 08:37 AM
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Hi patterson and welcome to the forum,
First, you must recognize that basement was never built to be converted to finished living space. I can link some articles that discuss building a dry basement where you would see the extreme measures needed that were never considered when your basement was built.

Then, there are four sources of moisture: Liquid water which you are aware of, moisture vapor passing through the foundation walls (the black tar doesn't stop it), plumbing leaks, and condensation from warm humid inside air. You can see and pump the liquid moisture, but the others develop behind the finishings and grow things you don't want.

Enough scare tactics. I do have one memory of a basement that really impressed me. The family had 4 boys and just painted everything down there, walls, floors, ceiling joists and everything. By painting they reduced the dust issues and gave it a clean look. I attended a couple of family gatherings there and everyone had a great time. The fact that it wasn't finished as one would the upstairs had absolutely no affect on the fun that was had.

Now, I would probably modify that approach knowing what I know today, but they never had to deal with mold, that musty basement smell, or worry about flooding. And those 4 boys could be boys without damaging "much".

I'll attach a link on basements to get you started.
BSD-103: Understanding Basements — Building Science Information


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