Below grade attached garage, water mark on wall

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Old 05-17-18, 01:47 AM
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Below grade attached garage, water mark on wall

I've been restless about this potential water problem from the attached below grade garage from the old house (50s) we just bought.

It's a sideload garage added to the old house back in the 90s, slope wasn't too steep but made the garage lowese point of the entire house. When doing inspection, my inspector did not find any water leakage signs inside the house, but apparently missed the water marks on the garage wall (brick?) coz it was blocked entirely by other stuff.

There is a sump pump put in a trash can inside a pit dug out from garage floor. Pump wasn't working and the water we first saw in the pit disappeared almost entirely after two weeks dry time.

Now my contractor came and told me some interesting things:

The channel drain carved in from of the garage seems to be connected to the sump pit, with another inlet tube. However, the two inlet tubes were put in a very low position of the basin (compared to the regular ones). He thought the abnormally low location for the inlet tubes into the sump pit explained why the water drained out in two weeks although the pump wasn't working.

My gc now gave me some worrisome news/estimate of the problem. The water seemed not directly from overflow during this storm but may be from the underground water pressure. There is line of damp marks along the bottom of the wall which is entirely buried below grade. This garage was added along with the sun room above, and there is an old patio at sunroom exit to the backyard which is pretty much leveled at the floor of sunroom (essentially the entire garage wall was underground). And there is a swimming pool in the backyard which hasn't been used for two years.

I have no access to see the exterior side of this garage wall but I don't think this house had complex dainin system. I can see a few black drain tile tubes with opening facing up and sticking above ground, cannot tell where it they go to or purpose, then roof had gutter and down sprouts but no extension as far as I can see.

My gc suggested us observing and maybe ask some landscape company use dirt to build a slope surrounding the house to direct water away from house plus cleaning up making sure whatever draining system is not backedup before thinking about expensive waterproofing or exterior draining system.

The main mind bugging fact is the exterior side of this garage wall is below ground, so to access the bottom of floor we we're talking about tear down the patio and dig all the way down one floor. I'm concerned this could be a money pit now which was my biggest fear.

Any suggestions? Thanks so much in advance.

 
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Old 05-17-18, 06:02 AM
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Too bad your concerns weren’t strong enough to have been addressed before purchasing. The garage wall in the picture is cinder block and I assume is full or partially below grade. The portion of the wall in the picture only shows signs of moisture where it meets the floor so I think the outside of this wall has been water sealed before backfilling and without any footing drains. Picture doesn’t show entire wall so my comment has reservations. Where is the sump well in relation to this wall? The picture shows a downspout at the garage door end of this wall that appears to go around the corner at or near grade. It should discharge far from this wall. If the drain in the driveway outside the garage is working fine, you might consider installing a footing drain inside the garage along this wall and tieing into the driveway drain. Hope this helps.
 
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Old 05-17-18, 06:13 AM
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My gc suggested us observing and maybe ask some landscape company use dirt to build a slope surrounding the house to direct water away from house plus cleaning up making sure whatever draining system is not backedup before thinking about expensive waterproofing or exterior draining system.
I agree. The more you can keep water from going toward that wall the better off you'll be. That includes piping away the downspouts. Time will tell if that is enough. Fortunately it's a garage wall and not part of your finished living space.
 
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Old 05-17-18, 06:52 AM
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Thank you for the replies. I really wish we could've seen this at inspection (it was after a heavy snow, not melting yet), the garage, especially the side with question was blocked pretty much and my inspector did not say anything about any possibility of water problem for a below grade garage to us who are first time sfh buyer (never had a below grade stuff as well, my current th is interior and all above grade). Seller did not say a thing about that as well. Don't know if seller had responsibility to disclose anything.

The sump pump/pit is at the other side of the garage (inside wall) which is opposite to the wall with water mark. (First pix, the left side of garage).

As for the wall with water mark, I do not see any footing drain inside along that wall, have no access to the exterior side since it was underground and blocked by the patio above.
 
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Old 05-17-18, 06:55 AM
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I intend to use the garage as a garage. I'm more concerned about any possible mold that may affect the sunroom directly above the garage, or any weakening/damage that may cause on the foundation (support the addition of sunroom and this garage). Will that be an issue?

You mentioned waterproofing may not be applied at the footing, was that done inside the garage or on the exterior side of that wall? If inside, would adding a coat of those at footing help? My reading on the similar topic suggested that the better solution is to divert the water away as much as possible compared to sealing here and there. The lot has a slight slope (back higher than the front/street side), and the street was at a lower if not lowest point in the neighborhood, so water inevitably would flow from the back to the front side, pushing against the garage wall.

I don't mind minor digging, but I just don't see any direct way of operating on the exterior side of that wall with question since it's all blocked by the patio in the backyard and then all the dirt (my first pix, that fence footing is pretty much where my backyard ground hits, so it would be quite deep down to even see the wall footing). What I can think of now is to add extension from the down sprout and clean up whatever that's surrounding the house to make sure water does not puddle/accumulate at the surrounding. Don't know if that would help.
 
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Old 05-17-18, 07:02 AM
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How many years has that cinder block wall been there ?

Your address is blank so we have no idea what kind of climate conditions and frost heaves that wall is subjected to.

As a Real Estate Broker here in Vermont, I've seen many buckled cinder block walls, and they normally pour a solid concrete footing and wall up to the ground level and then add the necessary number of runs of cinder block above grade to save a little money.

What do you suppose is causing that damp spot on the wall about 3-4 feet above the garage floor ?
 
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Old 05-17-18, 07:32 AM
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Q- Why wasn't the pool opened for 2 years?


Q- was the property was a REO or vacant-because-sellers-moved?


If nobody was home, the waterlines are consistent with a summer thunderstorm and power outage- storm knocks out power for an hour, and dumps 2" of rain- no power, no sump pump, and water collects in the below grade garage.

Would also be consistent with fall leaves get blown off an block the channel drain during a nor-easter.

Judging from the proximity of other homes, you're in a subdivision if the house is served by a municipal water system?

If so, then my suggestion is to get a water powered back-up sump pump. so that when power is off, the garage stays dry. It WILL run up your water bill, but that will be less than the cost to dry out that garage.
 
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Old 05-17-18, 08:01 AM
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To answer some of the questions:

I believe the sunroom/garage was addition together back in the 90s, so already 20 some years. It's not reo or abandoned, seller lived there and kept the house in an OK status. The pool was not used for the past 2 years (seller lived there for five years), I believe they stopped using it coz of the maintenance cost, did not ask the reason. There was still water inside, and I'm not super optimistic about its current conditions.


This house in in DC-Northern Virginia region.
 
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Old 05-17-18, 08:07 AM
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Seller did not say a thing about that as well. Don't know if seller had responsibility to disclose anything
Normally a seller is required to disclose any known defects .... but you'd have to prove they knew [and maybe that they tried to hide it]

waterproofing may not be applied at the footing, was that done inside the garage or on the exterior side of that wall?
Waterproofing is always done on the exterior side although some water mitigation can be done on the interior. Products like Drylok can stop all but the worst water coming thru the foundation BUT where does that water go? You don't want it to get trapped and accumulate inside the block.

As long as the top half of the foundation wall stays dry I doubt there would be any mold issues in the room above.
 
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Old 06-03-18, 12:17 PM
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Will a larger sump pump solve my below grade garage water problem.

I've been restless about this potential water problem from the attached below grade garage from the old house (50s) we just bought.

It's a sideload garage added to the old house back in the 90s, slope wasn't too steep but made the garage lowest point of the entire house. When doing inspection, my inspector did not find any water leakage signs inside the house, but apparently missed the water marks on the garage wall (brick?) coz it was blocked entirely by other stuff.

There is a sump pit (in ground) inside the crawl space under the staircase of the added sunroom right above this garage (added the same time I suppose). The crawl space was separated from the garage floor by a cinder block wall (they carved out a hole a couple inches higher on the garage floor to access the crawl space) The inlet pipe into this sump basin was connected to a drain pvc pipe along with a carved out in ground gutter in front of the garage. The pump and gutter seems to be designed to discharge excessive ground water rather than the underground water.

I bought a replacement zoeller N57 (0.3hp) before realizing that the broken pump inside was actually a big 1hp F&Q sewage pump. it has been a headache to me since this summer has been pretty bad in terms of rain storms in DC region. I was looking at getting this rigid 1hp pump to replace the N57 (could not return anymore unfortunately).

The downpour two days ago, water came into the garage again, but the sump pit area was dry. My concern is the water flowing into garage seems not caused by the pump not being able to pump out water from the garage gutter fast enough (otherwise, the water would spill out from the basin). It feels more like the gutter at the garage door did not drain the ground water fast enough so it overflew inside.

Would you guys share some thoughts on cause and remedy for this annoying water problem? Luckily the basement was at least 10inches higher than the garage, so far the water only affect the garage. But i'm hoping for a cheaper/affordable solution.

side question: should I put a screen or some sort at the gutter drain tube opening? The on ground water carries quite a bit of stuff from the back yard (seeping through the retaining wall) , so leaves and branches. I put a screen there, but it catches all the stuff and soon became a blockage of the drain, so had to put it aside. Will those dirty water pump be able to handle those?

Thanks a lot in advance.

 
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Old 06-04-18, 02:05 AM
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Sorry, there is a lot in your post to digest all at once.

The first thing that caught my attention was the gutter dumping into the pit. To me that is a big issue, no telling how much water that could generate.

Can that be separated, seems like that would greatly improve the situation!
 
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Old 06-04-18, 07:17 AM
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Sorry about any confusions in my OP. Guess my first question now is, will a comparable 1hp pump be helpful in my case? The dead one was a 1hp sewage pump, but I got a 1/3hp Zoeller N57 as replacement without knowing that.

The rigid 1hp one from homedepot seems to have pretty good review and affordable compared to zoeller brand 1hp ($800 and above).

I understand that having a revamp of drainage system could be the ultmate textbook fix, but our budget is tight and would like to investigate on other mitigations first if possible.
 
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Old 06-04-18, 08:44 AM
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I've seen similar setups a few times, but they generally have simple downhill gravity drains.
My first move would be to disconnect the downspout from the driveway sump pump, Have it discharge as far away from the house as is practical. Eventually, when it's time to replace the gutter, consider running it the other direction, to get water even further away.

If the outlet pipe for the sump pump was properly sized for a 1 hp pump, then I'd consider adding a second 1/3 hp pump at a higher level, as both a backup, and for a high-flow situation. This sort of second pump could be a simple pedastal sump pump sitting on the floor beside the sump pit. but I have seen a dual-pump setup with water powered jet pumps intended as power-blackout-backups.
Dual pumps require check valves at both pumps (otherwise they'd just circulate water) but it would provide a backup if the sump failed, and extra capacity if you have a downpour.

First concern is limiting the amount of water that has to be removed. So, make sure there's no water from the street gutter running into the driveway, no water from downspouts etc.

Second concern is leaves/grass, but there's not much you can do there, perhaps trim the tree limbs back a bit.

Without knowing the slope of the land and the general slope of the area, not much else can be said.
 

Last edited by Hal_S; 06-04-18 at 09:00 AM.
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Old 06-04-18, 09:06 AM
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From my experience I would never buy a sump pump from a big box store, they are all junk and sold by price, not quality.

Look into Wayne, Zoeller or Liberty, for a bit more you will not regret!

Just google and see which are the top rated pumps!
 
 

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