Hot Topics: Water on Basement Floor
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Original Post: 29 years in house, water on basement floor for the first time ever
I just discovered water on our basement floor. It’s an unfinished basement with lots of junk piled up and it's in an area we rarely venture into, so I can't say how long it's been there. But it wasn't there in November when we brought outdoor furniture inside. We have lived in the house since 1989 and have never had a basement water problem.
The water is in (roughly) a 10x10 foot area of the floor. It’s not under any pipes and not under the kitchen or any rooms that have running water. Our sump pump works properly. The water is 20+ feet from where the sump pump is.The ceiling (plywood under the upstairs floors) is visibly dry and feels dry. The tops of stuff stacked in the puddle area are dry.
The walls, including under ground-level windows to the outside, are dry. But I have not felt down to the floor because of all the stuff piled in the basement. The water does not smell like water from the dishwasher, or even spilled mop water from mopping the kitchen floor. And it really doesn't smell like groundwater, which I'd expect to smell like mud. It looks completely clear.
I'm in the northeastern US. We had a winter with much snowfall and cold temperatures, so no rapid melt.
I think this is all the information I have. More questions for me? Or, better yet, suggestions?
You need to complete your investigation to see if you can isolate the water entry. You guys had a lot of crazy weather this winter; was there any apparent high levels of snow piled up against the house that has now melted?
I'd say no more piled up snow than usual this year.The downspouts feed into ground-based "ports" (not sure of the right term), and there's one at the corner of the house around which all this water centers.
I have no idea what to do. I will probably contact a specialist who knows the troubleshooting protocol for matters like this.
czizzi Forum Topic Moderator
Downspouts take water away from the foundation, so make sure all yours are working properly, and add extensions if necessary. It’s also possible that the water table has risen around your property due to the excessive weather events you’ve had this winter. So, check all gutters and downspouts, and make sure water is carried well away from the foundation with extensions. Sometimes, it’s advantageous to venture out during a rain event and inspect the functionality of your gutters while they are in use.
This event has all the elements of what happened in my home after about 20 years of a dry basement. I'm in Michigan and that particular spring there were some warm days followed by freezing temps (again). My underground pipes were still frozen so the roof melt-off bubbled out of the tops of the collectors. This large volume of water pooled right next to the foundation and found its way inside. I dealt with the roof melt by attaching lengths of 4" PVC above ground to the downspouts. I really don't know where or how the water got inside because it never happened again.
I had two water remediation people come to my house today.
Both encouraged what I had already arranged, which is for a plumber to come and snake/jet the exterior drains, with a device that has a camera.
If I'm lucky, the pipes from the drains (which feed into interior piping that goes around the basement perimeter to the sump pump) just need unclogging this way, and then this drainage problem will be solved. If I'm unlucky, the stones into which the piping is set might be calcified, losing their absorption capability, necessitating more expensive work.
Also, I apologize for using a nontechnical term: port. I mean the downspout’s mate with a drain "thing" outside the house that, I'm told, runs into interior piping and winds up feeding the sump pump. There are two such things outside, feeding two pipes inside.
Incidentally, the basement, which had maybe 400 square feet in a large puddle of water yesterday, today was either fully dry, or just damp (not puddled) in a few spots. This was achieved with no effort on my part, other than letting the dehumidifier continue to run.
czizzi Forum Topic Moderator
You are saying that your downspouts on your house are fed into your sump pump? Somehow that doesn't make sense. A large rain event will overwhelm the sump. Where does the sump discharge?
I'm not knowledgeable in some of the basic questions being asked here, so apologies.
Our house is a tract house built in the late 1970s and homes all around us are similarly constructed. Our house has the external gutters feeding into downspouts that run down the northwest and southeast corners of the house. These downspouts go into drains on the ground at the corners of the house. I am told that the drains then go into piping in the basement that feed into the sump pump. As I understand it, the sump pump then feeds into the town storm drain system.
Mad Scientist Member
I had a bird build its nest in our house gutter. The water overflowed the gutter instead of traveling down the downspout. This caused water to enter our crawlspace. The moral of this story is to check your gutters and downspouts regularly.
Yesterday, the plumber came and scoped my exterior and interior piping and drains.
It happened to be raining when the exterior drains were being scoped, and they had to disconnect the downspout from the drain to gain access and water was pouring down the spout. So the gutters work!
The camera scoping showed no blockages or clogs in the piping. They went from the gutter drains out to the street storm drain outside and inside, around the perimeter of the basement, starting and ending at the sump pump.
The plumber found some small plastic and ceramic items that had fallen into the sump pump crock, and made an educated guess that something got in the pump works at some point, causing a temporary failure (pump continues to work) which accounted for the water getting into another part of the basement.
I respect his judgment. I don't totally understand the logic and an educated guess is still a guess. But the fact is that we're getting a lot of rain now and the basement remains dry. We shall see.
In what I hope will be the final update, an insurance claims guy came to our house today. He said that in his mind, this is one of those "one winter in 30" situations. We had a long and slow melt of a lot of snow, meaning it had a lot more time to seep into the ground. He's seen a lot more basement and a lot more roof claims this year than he usually does.
Yes, our basement could probably be better waterproofed. But I don't expect to be here in another 30 years, so I'm not going to worry unless it happens again sooner.
This is the fourth day in a row with a dry basement, and we got a half inch of rain yesterday.
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