stop basement flooding options


  #1  
Old 03-16-10, 06:07 AM
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stop basement flooding options

Bought a house recently and got my first basement/garage flood this weekend. I know nothing about this stuff so bear with me and correct me if I name things wrongly.

The house was built in 1951. It's a 1 1/2 story cape, about 1600 sq feet. It's in westchester new york, and i'd say it's about half way down a hill a long hill. The hill comes from south -south west and goes down to to north -north east.

My basement and garage are adjacent and lets say they are each 20ft by 20ft. I attached a picture of it for easier explanation. The basement on the south window side is underground. The west window is 80% underground. On the outside there is a hole by the windows and its protected by a sheet of metal. Hard to describe. The garage southern window is about 50% underground.

Current System knowns
First, there is a sum pump connected to what I think is the main drain pipe for the house. It's the biggest pipe in the house. It's about 3 or 4 feet deep. And 2-3 feet in diameter. Secondly, there is a sewer access hole in the front of the basement. This is part of the system, because my neighbor tells me that he has the same thing and he just uncaps my side of the sewer access and lets the water drain there. I know that is illegal, but I am not one to mess with what works. He does this for his house and he used to do it for my house when the old owner lived there.
Connected to this sewer access hole, is a trench on the outside of the garage through pvc pipe. And connected to that trench is another trench on the eastern side of the garage wall. There doesn't appear to be gravel there so it doesn't look like a french drain (which I just read about so I may be wrong). I call this the "driveway to sewer system" In addition the driveway has two walls on either side, since it's under ground level. And the walls have drain holes that flow into the driveway.
Current System unknowns
The gutters are connected to a black pipe that goes into the ground. Don't really know where they go. My gut tells me the garage side gutters go into the "driveway to sewer system." The southwest gutter might just flow into the backyard, which because of the gradient might eventually lead to the "driveway sewer system." And the gutter on the northwest probably just goes into the front yard which drains into the street.
My other big unknown is whether the driveway sewer system is somehow connected to the sum pump. What I observed is, that if the sump pump is running, the sewer access hole will not overflow and flood. However, if the sump pump is not running it will not overflow. But if it was connected to the sump pump,then why the need to open the sewer drain? Doesn't make sense to me yet.
Lastly, the unknown of flooding through the windows. This weekend we had slow rainfall so the flooding seems to have come from underneath. Actually, I had forgotten to connect the sum pump, so maybe there wouldn't have been any flooding at all. But during hard and fast rainfall, would the windows/walls produce flooding?

Questions
1) A friend recommended someone who came by and recommended some big improvements. First they would dig trenches all along the outer walls, put pvc piping and fill it with gravel and then put 3 inches of cement. That is a french drain system right? Second, they would enlarge the tank of the sum pump to be about 6 foot deep and 3-4 feet wide. Wide and deep enough for a man to fit in. How effective will this be?
2) Does it solve all my unknowns, such as gutter drainage and wall/window drainage? Do I need french drains or some other system on the outside of the house as well?
3) Is this future proof or will I need to do more in the future? One thing the inspector mentioned when I was buyign the house was maybe fixing the soil gradient.
4) The guy hasn't given me a price yet, he took the measurements and will get back to me. How much can I expect to pay?
5) Should I just keep the old system? Obviously price is going to somewhat answer this. But if the old owner of almost 60 years used this system, why should I change it? I don't feel too strongly about it because I don't have a feeling for the house yet. We've had some bad rains before and this is the first time that it flooded the basement. Maybe I should give it a year or so before I spend so much money.
6) I've read that french drains are usually installed outside of the home. Is it better inside of the home in my case because I have a sum pump? The guy who took a look didn't mention anything about the outside of the home.

Thanks for any advice and sorry for the long read.

 
  #2  
Old 03-16-10, 03:10 PM
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I'm no expert by no means, but I had water problems during hurricane floyd many years ago and decided to waterproof my basement as a result. I had Mid Atlantic Waterproof Co come in and do the job. Would never recommend them because they don't return calls after the job is done.

Anyway, I had water coming in thru the basement windows and through the block walls. The water coming in thru the windows was surface water in the low area of my property. The water coming in thru the block was a result of who knows because you just can't see under the ground. And also being that water travels to the path of least resistance, you just never know where your problem originates. All you know is where it's accumulating.

Because of the many unknowns of underground water I decided to have Mid Atlantic install a drain around my house footings. My home is 3800 sq ft, so it was a rather large job. What they did was jackhammer a trench inside alongside the cinder bock walls till they reached the footing. The trench was about 16" wide, and in my case 11" deep to get to the footings. They then pop holes in the cinder block every couple of feet at the footing to allow water to enter the drain. They then put gravel in the trench and pitch the trench so the water flows to the sump pit. They then put 6" perforated accordian looking pipe on top of the gravel. They also wrap the pipe with mesh. They then throw more gravel on top and then cement the rest to floor level. Oh ....before they cement they put a plastic grid along the block that leaves a path down to the drain. This is in case water comes thru the block and rolls down the wall it will be caught by this grid and channeled into the drain so the water will never hit your basement floor.

The system is now ready for use. By popping holes in the block by the footing they are allowing water to find it's point of least resistance. No longer will water sit against my cinder block foundation and possibly damage the block from acidic soil. No longer will water travel underground in all different directions causing many cappilaries to form which could lead to collapses due to soil erosion. There was also no need to destroy $20,000 worth of landscaping I have around the house.

They then gave me a sump pump for each pit (2). They gave me a battery back up pump as well, and 2 marine batteries. They also put in 4 window tap drains that connect to the main drain. The window taps are to collect any water that may find its way to your window wells (especially at the low points). All this for $17,000 ..... expensive, no doubt, but I finished my basement really nice and I have no concerns anymore. A friend of mine used Vulcan Co and he has a similar size house like me and was charged $12,000, but he didn't get all the stuff I got. I now know what I got was crazy overkill because I don't get any major water unless we get hurricanes. This system will also catch and get rid of water if you live in a high water table area.

This is a complete fix. You sound like you have issues in different areas and of course you can take cheaper ways to resolve some of your problems, but I thought I would just share my system with you. Your previous owner lived with the current system for 60 years so it can't be that bad, but some people's tolerance for water in their basement is different than others.

I only had minor problems with water in my basement till we got 16" of rain from hurricane floyd. I never want that to happen again and it won't.
 

Last edited by carlo 1; 03-16-10 at 03:32 PM.
  #3  
Old 03-17-10, 04:57 AM
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hey thanks for sharing, a lot of good info!

I'm still all over the place on this issue. My current thought is that most of the water problem is coming from the grate on the driveway into the house. I wanted to redo the driveway anyhow, so I was wondering if I redo the driveway, can they put pipes under it and funnel all the water onto the street?

The idea is to get all the water away from the house instead of pumping it out after it comes in. I already have a pump in case the water table rises anyhow.

I opened a new thread about driveway questions (http://forum.doityourself.com/bricks...ml#post1707208)
 

Last edited by sddiy; 03-17-10 at 05:34 AM.
  #4  
Old 03-17-10, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by sddiy
hey thanks for sharing, a lot of good info!

I'm still all over the place on this issue. My current thought is that most of the water problem is coming from the grate on the driveway into the house. I wanted to redo the driveway anyhow, so I was wondering if I redo the driveway, can they put pipes under it and funnel all the water onto the street?

The idea is to get all the water away from the house instead of pumping it out after it comes in. I already have a pump in case the water table rises anyhow.

I opened a new thread about driveway questions (http://forum.doityourself.com/bricks...ml#post1707208)

You can't get the water that's traveling underground away from the house. Underground water movement is probably 90% of rainfall vs 10% surface water.

No doubt fixing surface water problems will help in stopping water from coming into your home, but you are missing the 800 lb elephant in the room.

It is very possible that all the underground water coming at your house is hitting the house and going around it w/o any entry. Obviously, all your soil is also absorbing alot of the rain as well. Your foundation may be solid. If the property is pitched sharply I would assume the underground water would move quickly around the house and not sit against the foundation where it may eventually find it's way into your house. With my situation, my property is very flat, so the water sat and eventually filled the block and came in. My solution was to allow the water to enter through the footing drain so I could get rid of it instead of letting it wreak unknown havoc with the foundation.

With your windows .... if the water is coming from underneath the window it is very possible that water is sitting in those low points and does not have a chance to move with your natural grade around the house. The water sits and absorbs thru your cinder block or some crack in w/e type of foundation you have. Let's say you have a cinder block foundation ...... major water that sits against the foundation will eventually seep into the block and drip down with gravity to the footings. The blocks will then fill up from the footing all the way up or go sideways. Now, this process would take a very long time to happen if you had water sitting against your foundation and if you had a sound cinder block foundation. But over time, cement joints or cracks in the cinder block erode and allow water in faster and faster, therefore filling the block faster and faster. Where the water comes into the basement is anybody's guess. If you have a sealant on the inside walls the water will probably continue on up or go to the side to find the point of least resistance.

With my water problem with my windows, when they made the cement sill, cement fell down the block sealing the block. Water then came thru the outside of the block and couldn't drip down with gravity and just stayed in the cinder block hole till it eventually came in thru the inside block wall. It's just freakin amazing how water works it's dastardly ways on a home. Nothing I said probably pertains to your situation, but just some advice, so you can better understand how water finds its way.
 
  #5  
Old 03-17-10, 06:34 PM
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"so I was wondering if I redo the driveway, can they put pipes under it and funnel all the water onto the street?"

Under the driveway? Yes.

Carlo 1 does have a point. If you can't get the water flowing around the house and further down the hill, you are done for.

But, start at the beginning.
1. Get the driveway water away from the house foundation.
2. Get the gutter water away from the foundation
3. If that doesn't work, then the deep ditches (basically replacing the tile system) next to the foundation is next.

read this: http://www.askthebuilder.com/B339_Fo..._Systems.shtml

You can do the whole thing at one time, but I like working incrementally.
 
 

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