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djbauda 07-16-2007 10:48 PM

Basement dirt
Hello. A previous home owner had drains installed along the interior perimeter of the basement below the floor. There is a 1-1.5 inch gap between the concrete floor and the poured concrete walls that is dirt. Is this normal to have an exposed dirt channel around the interior perimeter of the basement? Should I remove it and fill it with concrete? Note that in three years of living here I have not seen water in the sump pit...the sump pump has been broken for over three years as well.

Thanks for any help!

RippySkippy 07-17-2007 05:31 AM

It's not normal to have exposed dirt in the basement. I would fill it up and never look back.

It does bring up a question though. If the sump is as dry as you say, why would the perimeter drain be added retro? Is the perimeter drain gravity flowed to some where other than the sump pit? Is the gap as you say between the slab and basement wall? If so, that should be the top of the footing, not dirt. The footing is always wider than the wall, and will vary from place to place but usually the footing will have a ledge that's 2-3 inches wide that the slab will sit on. When a drain under slab is added later it will be out from the wall 18-24 inches.

Know what your dealing with first....

Ron6519 07-17-2007 11:28 AM

This sounds like a french drain system. It catches water that gets in through the walls. There should be gravel in the trench, not dirt. The pipe should be covered with a fabric so it doesn't clog with dirt. Some place in your basement should be a sump pump that the pipe drains into. There should be a discharge pipe that empties the water whereever your code dictates. Do you have a pump?

citybuilder 07-22-2007 02:49 AM

Thanks Ron for that info...and djbauda you should fill that up as i dont think these kind of french drains are of any use !!!

djbauda 07-25-2007 11:30 PM

Thanks for the replies. To answer the questions, there is a sump pit with a non-functioning sump pump in it. The pit is full of some debris left-over from when the previous owner did major construction...and there is dirt in the pit. The pit looks like a black plastic container. In three years, there was only one time where there was water in the pit...and it only amounted to dampness, not even enough water for a puddle. Note that the black drain pipe in the floor empties into this sump pit.

Regarding the question about the channel of dirt and the drains, the dirt channel runs around half of the perimeter of the basement floor. The basement is a rectangle with the sump pit in the middle of the front wall. So, half of my front wall from the sump pit to the side wall has a drain buried beneath the concrete but a few inches away from the dirt channel/wall. Then there is a dirt channel and most likely drain along the whole side wall. Finally, there is a dirt channel and I'm assuming a drain along half of the back wall. Thus, half of the perimeter of the basement has this dirt channel, and since I see the black pipe going in to the pit, I'm assuming drains run along this perimeter as well.

But again, I haven't seen any significant water go in the pit. However, one corner of the basement (dirt channel exists in this corner) has signs of water marks on the floor since I moved in. A few times there has been dampness over an area of about 3'x3' on the concrete floor. However, I think this might be due to rain water from the gutter in the corner of the house...I need to route this further away from the house.

Please let me know your thoughts and how I should remove this dirt and replace with gravel. Should I just pull it up with a garden trowel?


Ron6519 07-26-2007 06:33 AM

I have to disagree with citybuilder about french drains. If they are installed properly they can make a wet basement into a functional living space. I just don't know if yours is correctly installed. The part of the pipe that's in the sump pit, does it have a fabric sleeve around it? That's to keep the dirt from getting in the pipe. If there's no sleeve and the entire channel that the pipe sits in is filled with dirt, there's a good chance the pipe is clogged. But even clogged there should be a slow trickle of water out of the pipe. Unless they installed the pipe incorrectly. When you look into the sump pit you should see slits in the top of the pipe. That's how the water gets in.
Has water ever come out of the open trench? That rainstorm we had last Wednesday would be a good test. I'm also from Long Island(East Williston).I've never seen so much rain come down in so short a period of time. I got 3" of water in the crawl space. Luckily I installed a sump pit in the concrete of the rat slab when I designed the addition and it just got pumped out.
Sounds like you also have some structural issues with the addition. The missing part of the rim joist will lead to problems. Best case is that animals come in. Worst case, the house structure is compromised. From your description it doesn't sound too bad. As a short term solution, the plywood keeps out the critters. I would put that up asap. If you can access the exterior part I would repair it from the outside. If the deck ledger is in front of it, the crawl space area could be used to get the wood in.

djbauda 07-29-2007 10:26 PM

Hi again. There is no fabric around the drains. The drains are just regular black, corrugated pipe with the slits in them.

With that massive rain storm we had last week, I didn't get any water in the pit, on the floor, etc. No problems.

I guess I'll remove the dirt from the trench and replace with gravel. Thanks!

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