Blue Ridge Mountain-sized Basement Trouble


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Old 03-01-10, 07:27 PM
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Blue Ridge Mountain-sized Basement Trouble

We recently moved to the Blue Ridge mountain area of North Carolina. Our home is a 70 year old frame that had started small and been added on several times. Below the house is 2/3rds cement brick basement and 1/3rd ventilated crawl space. The house sits on the side of a gentle slope, with the front yard sloping towards the house, and the basement has a walkout.

For the past few years the area was in drought. Since we moved in we've had numerous rains and snows. I have found water coming up through a couple of cracks in the cement slab and a corner where the slab sits against the cement block wall. I vacuumed out about 100 gallons during the worst storm (missed the overtime quarter of the NFC championships).

We are interested in putting in wood floors upstairs. The flooring company has advised us to get a grip on the water problem before doing the floors.

I called a waterproofer today. He told me on the phone that he can plastic sheet the crawlspace, but that he couldn't do anything about the water coming up through the slab. Reading this forum suggests that the ground may be acting like a bucket, and the weight of the house is forcing the water up through the slab. The solution would be to install drains around the bottom of the foundation.

Am I on the right track here? The soil is red North Carolina clay. The dirt seems great for pottery, bad for drainage - at least to my unprofessional eye.

I'm paying the waterproofer to come out and look at things, but I'd like to get some expert advice if some were available.
 
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Old 03-02-10, 08:13 AM
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He's right about the water entering through the slab. The first thing to do is look at the gutters & downspouts. Make sure that they are keeping the water away from the foundation. Then look at the pitch of the ground. It should be lower as it goes away from the house. If you still get water, then the foundation should be sealed from the outside & if needed, sump pumps installed inside.
 
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Old 03-02-10, 10:32 AM
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I live just south of you and know the soil (if you want to call it that) is a bear. I agree, don't install the wood flooring until you get the moisture problem tackled. From grade level on the front of the house, how much drop are you talking to the basement door walkout? Do you have a patio at the walkout? French drains are cute, and take water out, but they really don't do anything for the "moisture" problem. The water will always be there.
Do what Pulpo suggested and check the drainage system for the gutters and make sure the water is exiting at least 10 from the foundation. You say the front yard slopes toward the house. Do you have a perimeter drain, or driveway drain? Check to make sure it is carrying water out as well. If you have an expansion joint between the driveway and the garage, fill it with either elastomeric sealant (gray) or butyl rubber. My bet is the water is coming from the front of the house, hitting the foundation and finding a home 10 feet down. Getting rid of it may help immensely.
How do you like the snow, today????
 
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Old 03-03-10, 03:52 PM
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The snow was amazing. It closed down 21 for a while yesterday and delayed school this morning. Then it was gone!

Eyeballing it I'd say it's about 5 feet drop from front to back. The front corner of the house is completely under grade while the floor at one of the back rear corners is only about 3 feet below the soil level. Interestingly, both of these corners leaked from under the slab. In fact the back corner leaks relatively frequently while the front corner only during heavy rains.

No driveway. Just a porch in front of the house and a concrete walk in front of that for about 1/2 the length of the house. In front of the house the ground slopes upward by about 1-2 feet. I'm hoping to put a drain along the sidewalk and in front of the porch to catch the water and prevent it from hitting the front of the house under the porch.
 
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Old 03-03-10, 04:40 PM
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Fix all the grading first. Then see what happens.
 
 

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