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Old 11-01-2010, 05:39 PM   #1
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Fountains of Water Pouring Through Basement Walls


I have a 60 year old home with a concrete block foundation. The front and left facing foundation walls are completely below ground; the right and rear walls are exposed. The front yard's natural grade slopes slightly from the street towards the house (about 30 feet).

During heavy downpours, storm water penetrates the front basement wall through various points (high - through weakened mortar joints, and low - at the wall/floor joint) at a rate as high as the pressure of a drinking fountain. Since the walls are not dry, I'm assuming that I don't have a ground water issue (or, not only a ground water issue). It almost seems like the block is filling with water and then entering the basement.

Question: Assuming my issues are surface water somehow entering the block, what is my best recourse? Should I install an exterior "french drain" running along the front wall?

Thanks for your help!

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Old 11-01-2010, 06:13 PM   #2
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Fountains of Water Pouring Through Basement Walls


It sounds to me like you have the situation backwards. If water is pouring through the basement wall, and the source is surface water, a French drain will not help. The purpose of a French drain (more properly called a perimeter drain) is to reduce the groundwater level to below the floor slab, so groundwater will not enter the house.

If your problem is surface water, you need to direct the surface water away from your house. This is typically done by grading away from the house, cleaning the gutters and extending the gutter to at least six feet from the house, and in extreme cases regrading the land around your house to cause surface water to flow away from the house. You should only begin looking at perimeter drain systems when you have conclusively established that the problem is high groundwater, not the much simpler problem of improper grading and gutters.

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Old 11-01-2010, 07:52 PM   #3
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Fountains of Water Pouring Through Basement Walls


not to disagree w/the esteemed daniel, a sub-floor perimeter drain [ as we call it - ' french drain ' if you will ] WILL manage water coming in thru any block foundation,,, matter of fact, the drainage system does both - handle wall leakage AND sub-floor water table issues ( real OR false )

the gutter recommendations are well-founded in fact however the little sub-surface water trails are already established leading any water downward as its done countless times,,, usually its simple economics - excavate outside & waterproof including drainage &, possibly, an exterior sump & pump VERSUS the interior ' french drain ',,, usually, largely because of cost & exterior impediments ( porches, landscaping, statues of Aphrodite & Zeus, etc ), the bsmt system is chosen

take a look on our w/site for a cutaway diagram
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Old 11-01-2010, 10:15 PM   #4
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Fountains of Water Pouring Through Basement Walls


dlr1200,

Take a look here: http://paragoninspects.com/basement-...hicago-il.html
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Old 11-01-2010, 11:09 PM   #5
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Fountains of Water Pouring Through Basement Walls


Quote:
Originally Posted by itsreallyconc View Post
not to disagree w/the esteemed daniel, a sub-floor perimeter drain [ as we call it - ' french drain ' if you will ] WILL manage water coming in thru any block foundation,,, matter of fact, the drainage system does both - handle wall leakage AND sub-floor water table issues ( real OR false )

Sounds like you're aquiring a a vast respect for block walls finally, and appreciating the secaondary line of defense offered by the interior cores...........
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Old 11-01-2010, 11:28 PM   #6
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Fountains of Water Pouring Through Basement Walls


DLR thats very sad to hear. i would suggest the regrading idea first. thats what we did.
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Old 11-02-2010, 06:02 AM   #7
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Fountains of Water Pouring Through Basement Walls


masonary block walls have their place but not in any home i'd build, jo,,, its extremely difficult to repair block damage other than replacing them,,, cores a defender ? yeah, right ,,, personally & professionally, we like block walls,,, they're just like $$$ waiting to be plucked ( earned ) when they fall/collapse from hidden damage ( gawdbless'em )

of course, gutters, downspouts, & proper grading need addressing in anyone's home but, often, there're limits to what can be done dependent on existing homes - eg, row houses,,, nevertheless, the absolute BEST time to address water management is when the home is built ! ! ! the 3mil code required ' dampproofing ' is a joke !

our next place will be icf - matter of fact, can't imagine anyone building w/stick, jo
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Old 11-03-2010, 07:57 AM   #8
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Fountains of Water Pouring Through Basement Walls


Thanks for all the feedback.

Regarding grading and gutters: We have graded the landscaping away from the foundation as best as possible. The gutters are clean and operating properly. However, the front porch/patio is a concrete slab without a roof. The slab's street and west facing sides rest on the house's foundation walls (forming, what used to be, a coal cellar in the basement).

Water runs off the slab and directly down the foundation walls, and thereby, into the house.

I realize building a roof and gutter structure over the patio is my best, but most expensive solution. An internal french/perimeter/moat drain (whatever you want to call it - haha) will alleviate water from streaming across the basement floor, but wont stop it from flowing down the walls.

So, what are my options? Excavate as much as possible around the patio and "waterproof" the block? Will a external, subsurface perimeter drain tied into the existing gutter system (which is very possible) work? I want to avoid installing a roof as much as possible, but if thats my best solution...

Thanks again!
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Old 11-03-2010, 08:58 AM   #9
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Fountains of Water Pouring Through Basement Walls


I don't see why installing a roof is going to be any more expensive than trying to waterproof block (very difficult, you have to expose the block etc.) or installing a perimeter drain (also expensive, requires excavation, placement of pipe, you need a positive drain outlet). But if you are dead set against building a roof, perhaps you can extend the concrete patio out and away from the house. I am having trouble picturing the setup, a few pictures would really help.
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Old 11-03-2010, 10:13 AM   #10
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Fountains of Water Pouring Through Basement Walls


Here are some pictures. Water runs off the patio towards the sidewalk, and down the face of the foundation. As you can see, the patio slab floats on the masonry block creating a gap. I have sealed the gap, a possible water entry point.

I haven't completely ruled out a roof, but want to explore all possible options.

I'm gathering that a shallow (24" deep) perimeter drain running along the front of the house, and tied into the gutter system is not my best solution.

Thanks!
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Old 11-03-2010, 10:39 AM   #11
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Fountains of Water Pouring Through Basement Walls


OK, so the water runs off the edge of the patio and down the foundation block, then into the basement. The obvious solution would be to extend the patio out several feet, pitched slightly downward and away from the house. Then make sure that where the water runs off the patio, the grading continues to slope downward and away from the house.

I don't understand what you mean by "tieing the perimeter drain into the gutter system", unless the gutters empty into a drain system, there is nothing to tie in to. Most gutters simply empty onto the ground, and if the grading is correct the gutter water flows away from the house, typically towards the street. It is very unusual to have gutters tied into a subsurface collection system. Many problems with gutters are related to the gutter not being carried far enough away from the house, allowing roof water to collect and drain into the basement. This is usually easily corrected by putting an extension on the leader.
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Old 11-03-2010, 11:19 AM   #12
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Fountains of Water Pouring Through Basement Walls


The house is located below street level. There is a gradual and continuous grade from street, to house, to backyard (and then to my neighbor's backyard). My gutter system drains to the backyard, and hopefully not into the sanitary sewer system located at the back of the property. My thought was to tie the perimeter drain into the downspout below ground in the attached picture.
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Old 11-04-2010, 01:19 AM   #13
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Fountains of Water Pouring Through Basement Walls


thanks for the pics. yea i would say that a roof may actually be cheaper. the cost of excavation and such is way expensive and labor intensive. i had a water issue and i looked into different solutions. the best solution is to prevent the cause, not fix the symptom. building roof will fix the cause. making a drain and tying it into the gutters and all that is just dealing with the problem, not actually solving the cause/problem. just my thoughts
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Old 11-04-2010, 11:05 AM   #14
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Fountains of Water Pouring Through Basement Walls


i think a combo of french drain and roof should resolve 80-90% of your problems. I only recommend using a french drain as well because the water from the extended roof maybe back filling into the house walls as well. so with a french drain, you can direct the flow more towards the side of your house in addition to not having your foundation slab exposed.
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Old 11-04-2010, 03:01 PM   #15
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Fountains of Water Pouring Through Basement Walls


One detail that stands out to me: consider installing a kick out or similar diverter flashing:

Kick out flashings reduce leaks at the junctions of roofs and walls above them - Paragon Home Inspections Chicago/Skokie/Evanston


at this location:



to prevent water overshooting the gutter.

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Last edited by Michael Thomas; 11-17-2010 at 03:27 PM.
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