Water Seepage in Basement after Heavy Rain

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Old 05-15-15, 10:14 AM
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Water Seepage in Basement after Heavy Rain

I own a ranch-style home that was built in the '50s. The basement is about 7 1/2 ft deep with cinderblock walls. When we moved in 7 years ago, every time it rained, water would come into the basement and run to drains in the floors. Outside, our drain spouts were directed into vertical terracotta drains. I dug down about 18", connected the drains to PVC, and ran the drains away from the house.

Problem solved, right? Not so fast. Now about twice a year after a heavy rain, I still get slight seepage into my basement. It only comes in a one spot along a wall, and it only ever runs about 1-2 feet into the room. It always appears to be trickling in from a mortar joint about 18" up the wall. I have opened the mortar joint and filled with hydraulic cement. I also painted all the walls with UGL DryLok. The water stills seeps through after a heavy rain. I want to finish my basement but can't with the moisture problem.

There is a window well about 4 feet away. There is a visible crack in the mortar in the topmost cinderblock at the base of the window. Is that a likely culprit? The water would have to travel diagonally down and across appearing near the floor of the basement.

Do I have to dig down to the foundation and waterproof the whole side from the outside? I hope not. I'm also concerned that the terracotta drain around the perimeter of the foundation could be crushed or filled with debris. Should I just reopen to mortar joint and try again with the hydraulic cement? I want to do the easiest thing, but I also need a permanent fix.

Thanks.
 
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Old 05-15-15, 11:06 AM
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Hi bd and welcome to the forum,
@ "I want to do the easiest thing, but I also need a permanent fix." You and 99.9% of America, unfortunately, those two objectives rarely come in the same package.
I used to own a repair shop where we fixed a wide variety of machines. A lady walked in and put her radio on the counter and said "I want to get this fixed, but I don't want to spend anything." I was really at a loss for words, but she stated quite clearly what a lot of people want.

As for your basement, the water you see is just the liquid side of the problem, moisture vapor is next. To try to keep this short I will just list the highlights.
1. Where you see the water entering can be miles away from where it comes through the outside, as once inside the block it can fill them until it finds a weak spot.
2. The Drylok on the inside is rarely a solution and only blocks some of the water. It is not a vapor barrier.
3. Drainage pipes buried just 18" are subject to freezing in your climate and usually fill with ice and crack.
4. That drainage also needs a place to go. If your property provides enough slope it can be run at 4' depth to a much deeper drywell.
5. When you do feel you are ready to finish that basement, keep your plans simple. Long topic and many related threads on this forum.
6. Water from the outside is only part of the basement problem. Condensation from the inside and the potential for a broken pipe.
7. Be sure your insurance company is happy with the idea of a finished basement. One article I read said some are not happy with the increases risk. Also ask about mold coverage. If you grow it they may not cover it.
8. Although waterproofing from the outside is part of a water tight basement, yours lack several of the required steps that must be completed during construction. Bottom line is, you will need to learn how to manage the moisture as you will never eliminate it.

Bud
 
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Old 05-15-15, 12:37 PM
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Bud:

Thanks for the advice. I forgot to mention that the PVC I connected 18" below the soil runs to daylight. There is enough grade from the front of my house to the back that I have an attached garage that I park in that is connected to the basement. The PVC was really meant to run rainwater from the roof away from my foundation instead of directly into terracotta up against the foundation.

To manage the water seepage, I think I'm going to clean out the mortar/cement where it is still slightly leaking. I may just not have a good seal. Then I'm going to use my garden hose to imitate a good downpour. Hopefully (HOPEFULLY!) it doesn't leak. That would be the quick, easy, cheap fix. Otherwise, I might be pulling out the old spade and shelling out some $$$.

Thanks again, Bud.
 
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Old 05-15-15, 03:13 PM
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I look forward to reading Bud's replies as they are always spot on.

This is out of my field of expertise but I have seen that just sealing the inside of the foundation is not enough to guarantee a dry environment for enclosing the basement. If you have water leakage now..... and you seal the insides of the wall..... the water will always be there waiting to leak in.... and it WILL leak in eventually.
 
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Old 05-15-15, 03:39 PM
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Since tour ultimate goal is to progress towards some form of a finished basement here are a couple of links from Building Science Corp, one on basements and the other is an overall homeowner education.

Be sure you have at least one sump pit regardless of how well your efforts turn out, it is still a bathtub.

BSD-103: Understanding Basements — Building Science Information
http://www.buildingscience.com/docum...build-renovate

Bud
 
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Old 05-20-15, 10:17 AM
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Bud:

Could digging a new French drain resolve the issue of basement seepage after a heavy rain? Would a French drain installed at 36" do the trick (below the frost line) or will I need to dig down to the foundation? Remember, my home was built in the 1950s and has original terracotta French drains installed. Perhaps they have become broken or filled with sediment over the years.
Thanks for your replies. You have been very helpful.
 
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Old 05-20-15, 10:41 AM
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Even if I were there to inspect your property I could not say conclusively a new french drain would solve your problem. In my years of experience I have encountered numerous homes where there have been a seemingly endless sequence of attempts to eliminate the leakage that, for the most part, ended if failure.

The water that enters your basement involves surface issues and subsurface features. Ledge, clay, and compacted soils can and do direct that water once if soaks into the ground. In NJ I had at least 80' of known sand, may have been hundreds, but all I had to do was get the water to a collection point under ground and it was gone. Here in Maine, clay compacted soils, and ledge are common so one has to do some digging to establish a map of what is beneath the surface. For your 1950s home I would suggest talking to the city engineer (they do a lot of local digging), local well contractors, and even a power company crew installing a new pole. You might even find an engineer who designs septic systems who would talk to you.

But once you collect a ton of data, then you have a chance to decide if down is the place to direct that water, or drain to daylight and away. The latter is an issue in cold country.

Bud
 
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