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Old 04-23-2012, 05:38 PM   #1
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Basement issues...


About a week and a half ago, here in Nebraska, we sustained a SUBSTANTIAL downpour. Thankfully, my hubby and I were at our new house stripping paint off of some trim when we found the GIANT leak in our basement. The problem is quite clearly coming from a rotten wooden window sill in one of our egress windows. The window and sill are original to the 1901 house, and over the years, the sill has rotted and separated from the foundation. We've called in a few window companies to provide window estimates and they seem to think that will solve the leaking.

I decided perhaps it would be best to bring in a foundation expert to check our foundation and make sure that there was no permanent damage to the foundation. I could not see any cracks or bowing, but I'm not an expert...so I thought a free assessment would be warranted. The expert came today, and now has me totally freaked out. He made sure to let me know that the foundation is solid and there is no compromise in the structure, but he found a couple of other areas where it looks like water had seeped in from the floor at one time. He said since our house was built in 1901, the footings and the floor were poured at the same time, so the water is probably coming in from between the wall and the floor. He provided a $14,000 estimate to solve the problem.

We simply do NOT have $14,000 to fix the problem! Not even close! We can probably scrounge up $2,500 - $3,000, max! The basement is partially finished with drywall covering. I was thinking that if we pulled all of the drywall down we could prevent a mold issue (or prevent a WORSE mold issue) until we could figure out how to fix the issue. The expert says we need a fancy sump pump with 3 motors, a dehumidifier/air filtration system, a vapor barrier, and a baseboard drainage system. Is there ANYTHING that we can do to remedy the situation ourselves? Or at least put a bandaid on it ourselves until we can save up for the bells and whistles? I've read about products like Thoroseal and Sanitred. Has anyone had any success with those products? The gutters have recently been replaced, so is it possible that the problem could already be fixed since we fixed the gutters? My husband is excessively grumpy about the whole situation. He only hears the cost the expert provided and figures that our plans of finishing the basement are now never going to happen. I don't think that it's all that bad. Any advice would be appreciated. We are new to this DIY thing, but I still feel like we are completely capable of fixing this.

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Old 04-23-2012, 06:11 PM   #2
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Basement issues...


Whoo slooooow down and breath.
You expert is in the business to sell you something,become intimate with your home first and study it first.
To me a home is a living breathing thing with a personality.
Take some pictures and post them.
Was this water problem disclosed by seller?

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Old 04-23-2012, 10:33 PM   #3
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I completely agree that a house has a personality. This particular house has a BIG personality. As a matter of fact, I'm fairly certain that she (yes...my house is CLEARLY a she) was built 111 years ago just for me and my family. She is warm and inviting, almost motherly...if that makes sense. She is strong and stoic. My husband thinks I'm crazy. He thinks the house is just a house...but I already feel like she's a member of the family. I can see her beauty. See what she could be. I can envision returning her to her former glory. I can see raising our daughter within her walls. My husband see's a price tag. An opportunity to fix up the fixer-upper and sell her for a decent profit. Difference in opinion, I guess.

As far as the disclosure...we have purchased her from a close friend. He has been nothing but up front with us. He has not lived in the house for 13 years. In fact, no one has lived in the house for 13 years. She's been sitting there empty and neglected (which I find terribly sad). The previous owner would come over and check on her occasionally, and make sure the yard was kept up, but he would only visit once a week for about 6 hours at a time. He is aware that there was a leak from somewhere in the basement, but was never there when the leak was active and didn't know what the specific issue was. A water issue was fully disclosed though...I guess I just wasn't expecting the $14,000 price tag.

I do have a feeling that I was given the sales treatment today. I've been doing a bit more research and have found out that I could probably waterproof the basement for considerably less. I just am not certain if this is something that my hubby and I can do on our own, or if we should call in the big guns. Also, I don't know if this is something that we need to worry about right away, or, since the foundation is stable, if we can wait and see how bad the problem truly is. We are moving to this house after living in a 50's tract home sans basement, so we've never had to deal with basement issues. I'm not sure how safe it is to let a basement stay "damp" without running into structural and/or mold issues. While I agree that this particular house may have been a giant leap for my family, since we have no construction or renovation experience, I am so drawn to this house, I couldn't let her go. Hard to explain. Maybe I really AM crazy...lol.

Thanks for the response and any advice. I will take some pictures tomorrow and post them asap.

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Old 04-23-2012, 11:55 PM   #4
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Basement issues...


Don't go to the doctor and ask him to find someone wrong with you.
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Old 04-24-2012, 05:46 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigHouse1901 View Post
I completely agree that a house has a personality. This particular house has a BIG personality. As a matter of fact, I'm fairly certain that she (yes...my house is CLEARLY a she) was built 111 years ago just for me and my family. She is warm and inviting, almost motherly...if that makes sense. She is strong and stoic.

Thanks for the response and any advice. I will take some pictures tomorrow and post them asap.
That is the attitude to have,now before you go all postal do some things that YOU can do.

Like humidifiers,check the grading around the perimeter of your house and make sure water is going at least 6' away from the house.
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Old 04-24-2012, 10:41 AM   #6
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^ very good advice about outside grading of the land. for watershed purposes I want to add- also to make sure that the grade of the land is highest at the house and slopes away from house thereby taking any surface water with it away from the house.

unfortunately basement walls need to be sealed from the outside of the foundation to keep water from penetrating the basement area and that always involves lots of heavy dirt and soil to be moved around. Grade of the land dictates underground water movement somewhat and it is easy to see surface layer hills and slopes and what not but it is almost impossible to determine what the water is really doing underground where the eye cannot see.
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Old 04-24-2012, 08:55 PM   #7
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Don't go to the doctor and ask him to find someone wrong with you.
lol...very good point. Lesson learned.
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Old 04-24-2012, 09:13 PM   #8
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^ very good advice about outside grading of the land. for watershed purposes I want to add- also to make sure that the grade of the land is highest at the house and slopes away from house thereby taking any surface water with it away from the house.

unfortunately basement walls need to be sealed from the outside of the foundation to keep water from penetrating the basement area and that always involves lots of heavy dirt and soil to be moved around. Grade of the land dictates underground water movement somewhat and it is easy to see surface layer hills and slopes and what not but it is almost impossible to determine what the water is really doing underground where the eye cannot see.
The house sits on top of a hill. The landscape appears to be graded fairly well away from the house. We did find some MAJOR gutter clogs yesterday, so I'm hoping that will help as well. We cleaned all of the gutters and ordered the mesh covering for them to hopefully keep them gunk free as much as possible. We also added some extensions off of the down spouts to hopefully carry the water further from the foundation.

In 1901, I seriously doubt they sealed the outside of the foundation. I read about a couple of products (sanitred and aquaseal) I can purchase and apply myself. We just dig down along the foundation, jump in the hole, paint the sealer on the outside of the foundation, wait for it to dry, then backfill the hole. Is this adequate? I also plan on sealing the interior.
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Old 04-24-2012, 10:19 PM   #9
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Basement issues...


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Originally Posted by BigHouse1901 View Post
The house sits on top of a hill. The landscape appears to be graded fairly well away from the house. We did find some MAJOR gutter clogs yesterday, so I'm hoping that will help as well. We cleaned all of the gutters and ordered the mesh covering for them to hopefully keep them gunk free as much as possible. We also added some extensions off of the down spouts to hopefully carry the water further from the foundation.

In 1901, I seriously doubt they sealed the outside of the foundation. I read about a couple of products (sanitred and aquaseal) I can purchase and apply myself. We just dig down along the foundation, jump in the hole, paint the sealer on the outside of the foundation, wait for it to dry, then backfill the hole. Is this adequate? I also plan on sealing the interior.
It is good that you are diverting water away from the foundation, that is a major step. There must have been some way of sealing foundation walls in 1901 though anything applied at that time would have since failed at sealing.

That is the idea, to dig down to the foundation footing ( very bottom of foundation) and then apply sealer to the wall. After applying the sealer it is also very advisable while the foundation wall is exposed to add some type of foundation drain that helps channel any underground water away.
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Old 04-24-2012, 11:31 PM   #10
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This foundation drainage system you speak of...is this someting a DIY'r can do on his/her own? I want to make sure that whatever is done to this house is done right so she can stand tall and proud for another 111 years at least. :o)

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