Leaking Basement

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Old 04-11-15, 09:54 PM
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Leaking Basement

First post on the DIY forum, looking for some real advice instead of pressure sale tactics from "pros" and I'm also not sure if this belongs here or in Basements, Atics, and Crawl Spaces, but here goes.

Link to PICTURES: here

1950's 40'x24' rectangle house with a full basement. House caught fire, mostly water damage from fire department. Guy died, another guy buys it to flip or keep as rental (he owns other houses on street already). Guy tore house down to studs, pretty much redid the entire thing (multiple neighbors attest), ripped out overgrown yard, lots of overgrowth, graded entire property, the whole 9 yards. Simple single gable roof running East West. Big long continuous gutters, one on North side, one on South side, each draining to a downspout on East side and run away from foundation adequate amount, no downspouts on West side at all. Leak on West side wall/North wall corner area where PVC septic line exits. Yard is pretty well graded. West side could probably be better but still not sloping in. Basement has block walls. Dry Lok coating on inside walls. Leak through block behind electric panel (no Dry Lok) but runs down wall and drains directly into my sump pump pit below. Rest of basement has been amazingly dry considering its age until recently. Lived here 4 years. Decided to finish out my basement. Wasn't until I started framing out walls (stand off block walls at least 2" or more) that I got into a corner that was wet. Something growing, puddle about the size of my palm on the floor. Bleach out corner, chip off flaking Dry Lok till it's good, applied 3 coats of waterproofing paint (Behr brand) and let dry. Puddle comes back after some heavy rains, again, just a small puddle right where slab and block meet. Saturate the #&@* out of the porous patch job above the leak in corner where PVC septic line exits through block with waterproof paint. No leaks running from it on the inside over paint. Puddle still comes back over maybe 24 hour period.

Call two companies for estimates, both say they need $5,000 from me for an interior perimeter footer drain system and that's the only way to fix this tiny little leak I have during worst time of year with super saturated soils with the snow melt and rain.

Both also tell me I probably have an exterior perimeter footing drain as in the side wall of my concrete cast sump pit is a round tile that water dumps out of shortly after heavy rains (measured it out at about 3.2GPM recently with a heavy rain). Both claim it's obviously working.

A few days later I notice water leaking through my new waterproof paint right where I stopped chipping away the original Dry Lok paint and running down the wall. Almost like water is running down wall behind Dry Lok and then comes out and through the new Behr basement paint.

I originally though my small leak was from below slab seeping up but with water coming through wall, now I'm thinking my block cores are full of water and maybe the corner leak was water pressure in cores coming across and back up to the corner. Decide to dig outside the 1 foot down to see what the exit of the PVC septic line looks like, maybe water is getting into cores via porous patch job like on the inside.

Find weird stuff. Called guy I bought from and ask what's up, says he doesn't remember exactly but that he didn't put downspouts on West end of house as he didn't want it saturating/filling septic tank and that a lot of the other houses he owns/rents on the street (same houses) had old downspout systems that ran into tile below grade but he has no idea where they go. Apparently previous owner wanted stone face on the house and poured a $&*!!# concrete "shelf" about 3" below existing grade to set stone on. That explains that chunk... Then there's another chunk of new concrete I find right next to where PVC septic line exits. Guy doesn't remember/know what that is. Maybe just excess from making the patch where PVC septic line exited?

Dig out more along foundation, dump hose into hole and see what happens. Water starts draining RAPIDLY downwards right under this random piece of concrete. Bust it out and just find a bunch of stone. Dig stone out and finally hit what I guess is the water line right now? If I dig any more, I just keep pulling up stone, water level stays the same. No more draining.

If I remove water (shop vac it out), more water rushes in from... what looks to me to be a tench of stone that the PVC septic line is sitting on. Almost like... maybe it existed for the previous septic line system he tore out? Or maybe he trenched too deep and backfilled with stone instead of dirt? I don't know.

If I ADD a bunch of water to my hole that's now got standing water in the bottom, it drains out and looks like it goes INTO the stone trench the PVC septic line is sitting on.

Haven't dug deeper to see if there's porous areas in patch on bottom side of PVC pipe exit, maybe water's getting in somehow? Can't see with all the water in the way. There's definitely a faint black coating on the exterior of the block wall face, original waterproofing? When I'm dumping water into my hole I run inside and see if I get any more water leaks, hear sounds, or if I can detect any additional water flow into my sump pit from that tile. No change, haven't seen any more water. In fact, the little puddle in basement on the floor is drying up, getting smaller as we've been a few days now without rain.

So... can anyone help me understand what's going on? If I go dig somewhere else along my block wall outside, will I run into the same "water table" again at the same depth right now? Or will I be able to go deeper because I'm digging out soil and not stone?

Does it sound pretty safe to say that amazingly the Dry Lok is keeping water out and even more amazingly the mortar joint between the footer and my block wall isn't leaking? Do I even have an exterior perimeter footer drain? Did those exist in 1955?

What if I dig down about 1ft and out maybe 4ft and lay down 6mil plastic sheeting that goes up against exposed above grade wall, then backfill over it and grade. Then... if I dig up and put in a tile parallel to the West wall that slopes down as it runs North to the front of my property where there's a hill and ditch that I might be able to daylight the tile to out the side of the hill?

I'm pretty bummed out that my basement dream has come to a halt over a damp corner and a palm-sized puddle occuring during the wet season. I'm only investing $4,500 into basement (all my labor and time, nothing fancy, just more comfortable than block walls and concrete slab floor) and I might be moving within 1-2 years from now. I was contemplating just waterproof painting the walls again, caulking the slab/wall seam, painting over it and onto the floor a little. Caulking the inside corner where my pressure treated 2x4 bottom plate rests on concrete floor, creating a "moat" around finished area. My stud walls stand at least 2" off block wall and a section of my basement won't be finished (mechanical/laundry) so I also have access to void between walls. I thought I could put one of those vertical post-type fans blowing into void and kind of create a "vortex" or a flowing "air curtain" around my finished area to promote evaporation of any water and on the other side where the air "exits", put a dehumidifier. So honestly, I don't want to put too much into this water issue ($5,000 interior perimeter drain system and I have to take down a few of my stud walls I just put up) but if that's truly the only solution and associated cost then maybe I should bite the bullet and do it since we have sales disclosure forms here in Indiana and I'm pretty sure one is about knowledge of water leaks in basements. Nobody wants to buy a leaky basement house if the basement is unfinished and especially not if it's hidden and finished out, ready for disaster to grow.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Any thoughts? What have I got myself into? Please help!

Link to PICTURES: here

Also, apologies for the length, but hey, the more info the better and hopefully it helps get some better detailed answers!

Thanks,
Mike
 
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Old 04-12-15, 03:40 AM
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Welcome to the forums! I read your dissertation once. First, dry loc doesn't waterproof anything. All the water will enter the block and cause inordinate hydraulic pressure and cause any coating to bubble up and fail, so don't think it is a cure all. The only real way of waterproofing a basement is from the outside with excavation and proper waterproofing materials on the cleaned block walls. It appears you have a sump pump. Are there pipes leading into that sump? IF so, you already have a drainage system in place. Difficult to tell from the pictures. An interior trench solution would be a last resort, IMO, as it doesn't stop the water, only redirects it so it can be pumped out.
 
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Old 04-12-15, 04:24 AM
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There's definitely a faint black coating on the exterior of the block wall face, original waterproofing?
That is probably your waterproofing along with the gravel for drainage outside. The fact that you have standing water outside and is is not gushing inside tells me that the waterproofing is still working. You also have noted that is is dry as it has not rained in a few days. One and one together says that the leak is from another source. To me is points directly to the PVC pipe as a below grade source of the leak to the inside of the block. It is the obvious breach in the system. Dig out all the way around and keep sucking water until you have it clear of the pipe completely. Using hydraulic cement, I would apply to the complete perimeter of the pipe. Work in very small batches and very quickly as the hydraulic cement will set up before you even get it out of the mixing tub. It expands as it cures to fill voids and can be placed under water.

One other side note, are there any sprinkler systems in the area? Underground pipes, water mains, etc that may have sprung a leak that is causing the saturation of the ground. Is there a water meter that you can see if the little triangle is moving that would indicate there is a leak?
 
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Old 04-12-15, 05:58 AM
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First thing you should do is hire a plumber with a camera scope. Get him to run it in that pipe that enters the sump pit, and see where it is going. It is probably connected to the weeping tile so you should be able to see what kind of condition that is in from that access point. If it is collapsed or full of mud or roots, it has to be dug up and replaced, there is no other way to fix it.

It does sound like the leak is coming from around the PVC where it enters the house. I would break away the concrete that is there, and clean it all up really good, and use Hydraulic cement to seal around it as czizzi suggests. After the cement, go around it with a good amount of tar as well, just for a little extra insurance.

One more note on the stud walls, you need to make sure when you insulate that you fill the cavities behind the studs as well. You do not want air circulating behind the wall becasue it tends to draw moisture down instead of up and out. Cutting strips of rigid foam to fit is probably the easiest way. The wall should have been framed up right next to the block wall, with a plastic vapour barrier agaisnt the block wall from outside grade level to the floor and out under your wall plate.
 
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Old 04-12-15, 07:53 AM
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Chandler:
Thanks for the reminder on the paint. I know it's not really a fix but it was already on there when I moved in. I do have a pipe that empties into the sump pump pit. I THINK it's an exterior perimeter footing drain. OR it could maybe be something with the old downspout system that the previous owner tells me a lot of his rentals on the street seem to have. But he only has 1 rental with a basement and says his doesn't have a pipe coming into it like mine does.

Czizzi:
Thanks for your comment! Should I try and bust off the old black coating and the patch job the last guy did around the PVC pipe or should I scrape off the black tar stuff, leave the patch, and hydraulic cement OVER his patch? Regarding your side notes, there are no sprinkler systems at any houses on my street. We don';t have city water down the street either, all the houses including mine have a well and my well is on the East end of the house, opposite the leak. My well pump isn't running continuously, so I don't think there's a leak. The only utilities on the street are gas.

Keith:
One of my original thoughts was maybe my "weeping tile" (you're referring to what I've been calling exterior perimeter footer drain?) was only half working and during heavy rains it couldn't keep up. Thought maybe it just needs cleaned out so I can get more flow and then maybe it'd stop the leak. I called around a lot of places to see if I could get it "water jetted" thinking maybe 65 years of dirt/silt has filled most the drain's capacity but nobody wants to touch it and of course both the pressure sell guys I had come into my house said it was a waste of time. Sounds like you'd recommend removing the patch job completely that the last guy did and start over.

Regarding the framing of my basement, I was going towards budget build. I'm not concerned about heating/cooling down there, feels good to me at the cooler temps it stays at. I wasn't going to insulate at all. Just 2x4 walls that are away from the block at least 2" (6" one side and 15" another side) with drywall on inside of 2x4 walls. No plastic sheeting anywhere, not on block wall, not on back of 2x4 wall nor the front or between drywall and studs. There will be a small gap at top of drywall (maybe 1/2" or so) so I'm not making anything air tight. The inside of my basement walls doesn't ever look or feel damp. Can you elaborate more on why I don't want any air flowing behind my wall? I was thinking along the lines of... if my walls ever DO start getting damp or something, I'd be screwed if my walls were against the block with any kind of insulation because then it can't air out/breathe hence my logic that if I keep a pretty good flow of air around my room with some fans then it'd help draw out any moisture, hopefully carry it out from behind the wall, and then hopefully a dehumidifier would catch it.

Can anyone maybe shed a little more light on why there's standing water next to my house that high up? Is it just there because that gravel filled trench the PVC septic line sits on is funneling water to right where my septic line exits the house? If I go dig maybe 8ft further down the side of my house will I find the same water level, as in... the ground it just so saturated right now that the water table is that high?

My concern is that I've been watching a lot of YouTube videos of contractors doing basement waterproofing and now I'm worried my blocks are full of water and I saw some videos of how my block walls turn to powder after being exposed to water for too long. I have a strong urge to go drill weep holes in my blocks but then I have no way to deal with the water that I think may be inside. This is probably a really stupid idea... but I've thought about making a little channel/drain around the perimeter of my finished wall for water. Using the block and the 1.5" tall edge of my treated 2x4 bottom sill plate as the sides and then sealing the corners up really well, maybe some kind of rubber-type coating. Then it'd have to somehow channel to my sump pit, but I don't think the floor is graded THAT well, so probably just a stupid thought.

Finally, any tips on how to get the water out of the hole so I can patch? Just keep sucking/bailing it out till I have room all around the pipe? Just wait for water level to fall and hopefully we don't get more rain?

Thanks!
Mike
 
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Old 04-12-15, 08:33 AM
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Further thoughts:

Take off the exterior clean out cap, fill a tub up with water, release the water and observe the water going through the pipe. Look to see that the flow is positive toward the leach field and not ebbing back toward the house. Look also to see if there is any sign that the pipe is leaking and the cause of the ground water. If it is slowly leaking, you will see very small ripples in the standing water outside. If you can reach down inside the pipe, see if you can feel for any un-natural cracks or other anomalies that may be signs that the pipe froze and split over this past exceptionally harsh winter.

Where is the sump pump expelling the water? And there appears to be a steady influx of liquid into the pit. Is it possible that it is a self sustaining water source? Pumps it out, only to have the same water filter back in.
 
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Old 04-12-15, 09:01 AM
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Czizzi, good point. It does seem like that septic line is really close to the surface. Although it probably doesn't have water in it unless my septic system is somehow full of water and backed up. I don't have any plumbing backups in sinks, toilets, etc. But definitely worth a try to see if the pipe is leaking by putting in some water.

Regarding the sump pump and pit. The water gets pumped up and out of the house through a buried PVC tube that runs all the way down to the end of my driveway and dumps into a city storm water drain. I've actually verified this by having someone tell me when the sump pump turns on and then a few seconds later I can see water dumping into the storm water drain from a white PVC pipe through the grate in the ditch. So luckily it's not just pumping water in a circle.

That tube that's coming into the side of my pit with quite a lot of flow really only dumps really fast after heavy rain. Right now we've got saturated ground, but no rain since about 6am Friday when the last storm came through and right now there's a very small stream coming into the sump pit. I can't hear it dumping in, it's silent. When I get heavy rain, I can hear it dumping into the sump like a waterfall. There have been times during the summer when there is no water entering the pit.

If I get a chance today I'll work more on troubleshooting and see if I can dig around the pipe better. Sounds like step 1 would be to bust out the old patch job/tar, fill and big holes with chunks, then use hydraulic cement to patch again. Cover with tar. After that, is there anything else I should try? Try brushing off/cleaning wall in that area and then waterproof with... paint? tar?

Finally, I assume the method that's suggested is do repairs to make sure it's not leaking in around the pipe. If I do all that and I still get leaks (which may be impossible if I don't get this all done before heavy rains end...) then do I head down the path of putting in drainage tile along that wall?

Thanks,
Mike
 
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Old 04-12-15, 07:40 PM
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A quick update.. I added 7 more photos to the end of my album I linked to above.
Here it is again: pictures

When I came out today to work, the hole was now dry; or at least there was no more standing water. There's no additional water in the basement either. I dug down a bit further and then water came back. So I assume this is the "water table" dropping?

I took cap off the cleanout and dumped the hose in there for a good 10 minutes. Water was flowing towards septic tank, not back towards house and that was good. Waited a while to see if any water started to fill my little hole but it never did. So I don't think there's a crack in the PVC septic line, at least not in the immediate area I guess.

Anyway, busted out the other chunk of concrete to the left to get more working room and busted off a bunch of excess concrete from the previous patch job where the PVC pipe came through.

It was after I busted out part of the previous "shelf" someone had poured in the past that I found an indent in the block wall. At first I thought it was a hole packed full of mud and clearly where water was leaking in. But after scraping around a bit, I THINK maybe what it is.. is the end of concrete block. It's right at the corner of the foundation. I think I read that the corner blocks are supposed to be solid ended and the two top layers of block DO have the solid ends I think. However, maybe they switched to standard blocks further down and what I'm looking at is the little "cove" in the end of the block on the North wall? I suppose if I dig deeper with my shovel in that "cove" I should run into block again for the next row on the West wall that's solid and maybe there I'd find a "cove" on the North face if there wasn't a concrete "shelf" full of rebar in the way.

Anyway, when I dumped a bunch of water into the hole to wash stuff off, the water wasn't really going anywhere too fast. I looked really close and it seems like it was draining out of the hole into the stone that is underneath the PVC septic line, but since I was lower it wasn't flowing as fast?

Any chance that the end of that block is more porous and maybe water is leaking in there?
Also, is my best bet to getting the rest of the patch concrete out using a small electric jackhammer? I busted out the chunks today with a pick axe and hammer.

Finally, say I get all this cleaned out, patched again, sealed or painted (or something??) and it's time to fill it all in. Should I fill my hole back up with soil instead of the stone? I feel like that'd displace more water (more dense) and that'd be good. Or do I just throw the stone back in that kinda seems like its making a trench of water dead end right into the side of my patch job on the foundation just below where the PVC septic line exits? Seems like maybe soil would "plug" the end of the trench instead of my block wall.

Thanks,
Mike
 
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Old 04-16-15, 07:55 PM
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Busted out some old concrete patch work today.





Dug down a little further. It'd definitely a standard block on the corner instead of the solid ended type block they used on the top 4 layers. The good news is that the lip where the cove meets the wall of the next block down looks sealed up pretty well. I didn't dig down another 2 blocks to see if it continued though.

But I did find this nice vertical crack at the mortar joint just below the PVC septic line as well. The bottom mortar joint has a short horizontal crack too. Maybe this is where water is getting in...



Opened it up for more room



I didn't dig down deeper. I may find more cracks or I may not. If I keep going I may as well dig out the entire wall and that's just... not going to happen. It's been dry a few days here, then rained yesterday, and dry again today. Water puddle on the floor has evaporated away and outside, I haven't found the "water table" again, hole is staying dry less whatever I spray in. What does get sprayed in doesn't seem to run anywhere or at least very fast.

Next step is to shove some concrete chunks in there to take up some of the space and then patch it all with hydraulic cement.

After that, my plan was to apply some kind of "tar" or something over the whole area I have exposed. The Home Depot here has a 5 gallon bucket of Henry's foundation coat, but it's $57 and I don't need that much. Can't find a gallon of it. Is there any reason I can't use Henry's 208R rubberized wet patch? It says on the label it can be used for concrete... Any thoughts? Something else I should look into getting?

Thanks,
Mike
 
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Old 05-12-15, 07:23 PM
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Just a quick update of what's happened if anyone is interested.

I patched the area with hydraulic cement. Still have yet to put Henry 208R over it all.
However, I'm still getting a small amount of water in the basement. It was dry here last week so I did some experiments... I ran the garden hose for 15 minutes on the grass just above the buried PVC septic line about 40ft from my house/hole area. A little later, my hole was filling with water quickly. I'm pretty sure what's happening is all the gravel under the PVC is acting like a french drain, collecting all the surface water along the length of the septic line, and then sending it right into the side of my foundation.

My plan now is to dig and install a french drain that's below the gravel bed the septic line is on and have it slope out to the front ditch and daylight. That way the water collected by the "tile" under the septic line gets rerouted out to the street and away from the house instead of saturating the foundtion.

We'll see how it turns out. It can't hurt.

Mike
 
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Old 05-13-15, 03:00 AM
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I think that would be a good solution to redirecting the water away from the area in question. Have you dug down enough, and have you cleaned the foundation to where you can apply a waterproofing in the area. Don't skimp on it as it needs to be resistant to the water pressure.
 
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Old 05-15-15, 11:09 AM
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I haven't dug down much deeper because it seems like an endless whole. Unless I'm digging up the entire wall, where do you stop? Basement hasn't leaked real water in the past few weeks either. I've scrubbed the block wall real well where I've exposed it that I'll be covering. Just need to find some time do rent a trencher! Got the utilities marked already.
 
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Old 09-21-15, 06:21 PM
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Well I finally have some time to work on this project again (got married, moved the wife in, bought a new car, changed jobs, and continued finished basement...) and hopefully take care of the wet basement...

Been dry again here and did my hose test and sure enough, water still appears after a bit. Plan is to dig out/under the septic PVC that's resting on stone/french drain headed straight into my foundation. At the bottom of the stone I'm going to start a trench sloping out to the front yard ditch that empties into city storm water. I'm going to use 3in solid PVC, the "entrance" end will be at the bottom of the stone the septic line sits on. I'll use a strainer and bury the end in stone, kind of like a drainage tube at the bottom of a dry well. I'll backfill under the septic line close to the house with dirt instead of original stone to "plug" the end of the french drain action going on under the septic line. The end of the 3in will daylight into the front yard ditch in the steep slope side wall of the ditch.

This seems like the easiest way to hopefully redirect the water that's flowing through the "french drain" I've got going on away from the house and not let it just pool up against the foundation.

Looking for tips on using a ditch witch in THIS thread!







Thanks,
Mike
 
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Old 09-23-15, 05:44 PM
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Well, I've made progress. A lot slower than I anticipated...

Does anyone have any input on the "end fittings" (strainers, see above) I'm using? The side by the house getting buried I glued in and the street end I just popped in. The thought was that if I ever have to snake up from the street I can take the strainer out but on the buried side I didn't want whatever I snake up there pushing it out... even though there should be a bunch of stone against it. Hopefully the strainer in the stone doesn't clog up. I feel like this is better than one of those "socks" as it'd seem those would clog up sooner?





Just looking for some last minute input before I put stone in the rest of the stone "trench" and finish off this project.

Thanks,
Mike
 
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