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Old 12-16-2011, 09:19 PM   #1
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Mystery Basement Leak


Hello all, I'm a fairly new home-owner with a mystery to solve. I've had great success on this forum so I'm hoping you all can collectively help me again. I've collected all my facts and photos and here is the story:

I had about a day and a half of steady rain (a combination of drizzle to light showers). Water started seeping in through the base of the wall (Pic 1-A). It is very localized and no seepage is occurring anywhere else. There's also seems to be some water collecting/seeping in at the base of the mystery pipe in the closet (Pic 1-B). It seems to be always wet.

The rain has since stopped and after almost 2 days, the water still continues to seep in at the same rate. On the exterior of this wall are a few pipes and connections that come in at ground level above where I approximately indicated in the photo (Pic 1-C). Note that directly outside the closet is a 5' sq. covered porch (Pic 1-D)

I've taken a photo of the exterior wall to show what pipes enter the house (Pic 2). There is an air conditioner unit (Pic 2-A) and high-efficiency furnace exhaust (Pic 2-B). I don't know what the other 2 pipes do (Pic 2-C, Pic 2-D)

Grading of the soil is adequate. Downspout is not leaking and diverts water 6' away from the house. Even during the rain the soil directly adjacent to the wall is fairly dry because of the overhang of the roof and porch. In other words, water does not collect there.

Also, during this time there has been a steady stream of water coming into the drainage hole (Pic 3) in the furnace room from a connected pipe a that exits just a few centimetres below the floor (Pic 3-A). This is not a normal occurrence.

This is all at the front of the house. I recently had the side of the house excavated and waterproofed and weeping tiles put in. I already have a quote to do the front but would like to know if waterproofing is really the issue. It would be disappointing to spend all that money only to find out it wasn't the problem to begin with.

So that's all I know and now here are my questions...

1. If its an exterior waterproofing issue, why would water still be coming in when it hasn't rained for almost 2 days? Especially since water does not collect in that area and the area is so localized.

2. What is the mystery pipe in the closet (Pic 1-B) and why is water seeping in from where it enters the floor? (Pic 4 and Pic 5 are close-ups of it)

3. Where is the stream of water (Pic 3-A) coming from? Where is this pipe diverting water from towards the drain?

4. With all this information I've given, are there alternative explanations to the water seepage?

5. Will calling a plumber do anything or is this outside of a plumber's scope?

6. Or do I bite the bullet and have the wall excavated, waterproofed and weeping tiles installed?

I thank you all in advance. Even pointing me to the right professional to consult would be helpful. Like I said, I've consulted a waterproofing company and basically they just gave me a quote.
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Mystery Basement Leak-pic1.jpg   Mystery Basement Leak-pic2.jpg   Mystery Basement Leak-pic3.jpg   Mystery Basement Leak-pic4.jpg   Mystery Basement Leak-pic5.jpg  


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Old 12-17-2011, 02:37 AM   #2
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1. If its an exterior waterproofing issue, why would water still be coming in when it hasn't rained for almost 2 days? Especially since water does not collect in that area and the area is so localized.

Any pipe leaks in the house? Also, ground water. Water can collect under ground and run underground for several inches, feet, or even miles. (It's how underground wells exist, is because pockets underground collect water) there are any number of reasons for this. Like almost completely insane number of reasons.

2. What is the mystery pipe in the closet (Pic 1-B) and why is water seeping in from where it enters the floor? (Pic 4 and Pic 5 are close-ups of it)

It's a Drainage pipe, oddly, it has a valve on it. It's made of iron, and its insulated like it's for a steam pipe to a boiler. Do you know where your waterline into your home is? That might be it, since it appears to have a shutoff valve. Ever tried turning the valve to see what happens? (make sure you have faucets in the "on" or "open" position before you turn it back open or the previous state before you turned it, just for safety)

3. Where is the stream of water (Pic 3-A) coming from? Where is this pipe diverting water from towards the drain?
That's a DWV pipe. Ultimately, ALL DWV Piping connects to a single fitting which leads into the sewer. That water could be the dishwasher, a sink that's turned on, the washer machine, rain water from the gutters, the list goes on.

4. With all this information I've given, are there alternative explanations to the water seepage?
Yeah, I've got one, you have a pipe behind that wall that is leaking. If water is coming in from no where else but that one specific spot on that wall, might be worth the time and $$$ to cut it open and physically look at what's behind it. It's obvious you have piping running through that wall in general due to its proximity to exposed piping.

5. Will calling a plumber do anything or is this outside of a plumber's scope?
This IS a Plumbers Scope. A Plumbers Scope is anything/everything related to piping and pipe fitting, and plumbing fixtures. Only things that don't fall under a Plumbers domain is steamfitting, which is another branch of the Plumbing Trade. You could call one to get some info, but get price quotes etc. before calling one out.

6. Or do I bite the bullet and have the wall excavated, waterproofed and weeping tiles installed?
I'd have that drywall cut out, and look at what's behind it. If it's ground water coming in, guess what? You can get a $20 fix by caulking, or patching any cracks etc. If it's a pipe, you can cut the pipe and install a new one. It's up to you.

Also, regarding pic 4 and pic 5, and the pipe 1-B, where is your waterheater located? And where is your furnace located? it may be the fuel line to your furnace, or waterheater, or both.

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Old 12-17-2011, 08:59 PM   #3
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Thank you for the reply/advice BigGuy01.

I'm posting an update just in case someone else runs into a similar problem. Maybe this will help.

As you recommended I called a plumber. I wasn't convinced it was a waterproofing issue to begin with. There has been no rain for 2 days. The ground is dry. Temperature is below freezing. Yet the flow of water was constant and not diminishing at all.

Turns out that my mystery pipe (Pic 4 & 5) is my main waterline (Who knew? ). He has determined that there is a leak in the waterline under the basement floor. The floor underneath is saturated and the water has now come up the surface through the area of least resistance (Pic 1-A). Luckily most of the water is getting channeled under the floor to my main drain (Pic 3-A) otherwise I would have a pretty bad flood as opposed to a leak.

The solution is to install a new waterline that runs from my side of the property line to inside the basement. (3/4" which should improve my water pressure also). Then have the city check the waterline on their side of the property line and also get them to change it to a 3/4" service. Again the added bonus is better water pressure.

Not a cheap fix but definitely cheaper than excavating the whole foundation and waterproofing when that was not the problem to begin with. So I could've ended up fixing the wrong thing and having the added expense of fixing the right thing after that. Thanks again for pointing me in the right direction.

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Old 12-17-2011, 10:24 PM   #4
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Well very good - sounds like you got it figured out.

My guess would have been main-line water for that pape as well: it's old, for one . . . individual . . . has an on/off valve . . . and is insulated. This rules out that it's gas - it's singleness rules out that it's a delivery for a faucet (etc) which usually is seen with hot and cold.
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Old 12-20-2011, 06:24 PM   #5
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Another update. Work has halted. While digging the hole kept on filling with water. The plumber suspects its from days if not weeks of leaking water that has saturated the ground. They have to wait until the water subsides to even find the waterline. They will be back in a couple of days. In the meantime I have hole both inside and outside my home. Does this sound like a valid explanation? Will waiting 2 days make a difference?

The only other costly option is to have a vac truck suck out the water while they dig. A very costly option. I'm drowning here... Literally and figuratively.
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Old 12-20-2011, 08:11 PM   #6
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I had neighbors who had an extensive leak under their house - they had to chip a hole in their crawlspace brick to let water drain out. It took days and stunk to high heaven. . . but it was necessary.

So two days to see - yeah, likely. . . you can put something over it to keep cold and other unwanteds out.
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Old 12-20-2011, 08:11 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snav View Post
Well very good - sounds like you got it figured out.

My guess would have been main-line water for that pape as well: it's old, for one . . . individual . . . has an on/off valve . . . and is insulated. This rules out that it's gas - it's singleness rules out that it's a delivery for a faucet (etc) which usually is seen with hot and cold.
Actually depending on the area, gas lines can be insulated to prevent or minimize expansion and contraction provided the insulation is fire retardant.

But as I state above, it was either the water main, or a gas line. I suspected possibly DWV, but it wouldn't have made sense with the shut-off valve.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vanishingson View Post
Another update. Work has halted. While digging the hole kept on filling with water. The plumber suspects its from days if not weeks of leaking water that has saturated the ground. They have to wait until the water subsides to even find the waterline. They will be back in a couple of days. In the meantime I have hole both inside and outside my home. Does this sound like a valid explanation? Will waiting 2 days make a difference?

The only other costly option is to have a vac truck suck out the water while they dig. A very costly option. I'm drowning here... Literally and figuratively.
Best thing you can do if money is an issue, is take some plywood or something and put it in place so no animols can get in. That said, if they can't really do anything until the water is out, they can't really do anything.

It would cost even more to have them keep working with little progress from the water. I would just board up the access between your home and the outside, and bide time for those two days.
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Old 12-20-2011, 10:35 PM   #8
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i've scooped out 10 buckets of water out of the interior hole already and its still filling up. Fortunately the 2 holes do not connect yet so no vermin access (silver lining). The hole outside the house is dry no water filling it.

Is all this water from the saturated ground? The 2 holes are about 10 feet away from each other. The city has already turned off my water but I am connected to my neighbours hose bib to supply water to the house. I asked the plumber if I should be turning off the water from my neighbour but he assures me it is not the source of all this water and that it is most likely saturated ground. Can this be true?
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Old 12-20-2011, 10:59 PM   #9
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Hmm - so is this water a potential to spill up into your home itself?

I'd go out to the petstore or automotive store and buy a tank-pump that has a squeeze-bulb which gets teh water going - string that down into the hole and run the other spout into a bucket. Get the pump going - let it drain the water away without so much work on your part.

Personally: I'd get a fish-tank pump because the hoses are usually a classic tubing that can be extended with attachments (bought from the plumbing supply aisle at a home improvement store) and strung all the way to a sink without much dripping.

However: considering that much water I think it's only SMART to turn your water off and see if that stops the flow - you could have a ruptured line somewhere. . . If you can't see your leak you can't rule it out yet. . . honestly: I'm surprised he suggested that you don't do that. I wonder why not.
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Old 12-21-2011, 02:19 AM   #10
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Hmm - so is this water a potential to spill up into your home itself?

I'd go out to the petstore or automotive store and buy a tank-pump that has a squeeze-bulb which gets teh water going - string that down into the hole and run the other spout into a bucket. Get the pump going - let it drain the water away without so much work on your part.

Personally: I'd get a fish-tank pump because the hoses are usually a classic tubing that can be extended with attachments (bought from the plumbing supply aisle at a home improvement store) and strung all the way to a sink without much dripping.

However: considering that much water I think it's only SMART to turn your water off and see if that stops the flow - you could have a ruptured line somewhere. . . If you can't see your leak you can't rule it out yet. . . honestly: I'm surprised he suggested that you don't do that. I wonder why not.
Too many variables.

I really would like to know if the water smells... There is a possiblity that might be septic........ If it smells bad, than it would be septic since normal ground water will just smell like earth and not rot.

That said, I'd rather just get a SumpPump, it would be more expensive, but it would get the job done with good efficiency.

But the fishtank pump thingy (no idea what they are called) would be a good idea as well.

But that is crazy. Good thing he got a Plumber involved. Another reason why the Plumber may have said not to do it, is to minimize panic. Because until the Plumber can see exactly what's going on, and locate the source, the Plumbers guess is as good as the home owners. So in an attempt to remove worry, he's doing the smart thing, via assuring the customer is ok and not to worry too much about it.

Small measures like the fishtank pump would be a good idea to just do for the sake of it, but overall, there is nothing the Plumber, or homeowner can do in this regard until the water is dried up, and they have the ability to determine the source.

Last edited by BigGuy01; 12-21-2011 at 02:21 AM.
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Old 12-21-2011, 07:38 AM   #11
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It's not septic. The water does not smell. In fact it's relatively clear. And I've left it over night and it doesn't spill over the hole. It stops about 5 inches from the top of the hole. Interesting to note that when I empty out the hole the water stops flowing out of Pic 3-A. Now that the hole has filled up, water started to flow out of Pic 3-A again. So at least I know Pic 3-A is keeping my basement from going under water.

I did a little experiment and turned off the water from my neighbour so the house was completely out of water for more than an hour. The flow of water from Pic-3A did not stop. So this would support the "saturated ground" theory. However, the amount of water and the fact that it was still going after I turned my neighbours water off for an hour, could also mean that this water IS coming from a burst pipe somewhere that may not even be part of my home's plumbing?

Should I leave the water off longer than an hour to eliminate my home plumbing as the source? The temperature is going to be above freezing today (it is now 34 at 7am and is going up to 42 by 6pm) so my hose connection to my neighbour wont freeze.

Im just concerned that if it is coming from a source other than my home plumbing, this won't drain. And I would rather find out sooner than later so I can tell the plumber what I've found out as not to delay the work any more.
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Old 12-21-2011, 05:17 PM   #12
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Update: I left the water off from the neighbour the whole day. Emptied out the hole in the basement that is filling with water three times now. It is still filling up with water. The hole they dug outside the house which is only about 10 feet away from the hole inside, is not filling up with water at all. The house has been bone dry of water all day. So this water is not coming from any pipe connected to the house.

I am willing to wait a few more days to see if it IS water from saturated ground (ie. see if it subsides at all). Although all evidence points to something else. If after a few days this hole is still filling up with water then it most likely is not saturated ground. Especially since it is so localized to the interior hole. Does this make sense?

I just don't want to have my waterline replaced if that is not the problem.
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Old 12-21-2011, 06:08 PM   #13
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If it's not your home, than its the city.

Contact the city and have them check water expenditures for homes/piping in your immediate area. Usually within a two block radius. That much water would send red flags to a cities utilities department.

I know, because just filling up a 1,000 gallon swimming pool they came to my door freaking I blew my water main.

If it's clear on their end, than that water is coming from a source either directly under your home, or it is your water line.

Has anyone gone underneath your house itself? (crawl space?) If its flooded, which It should be, than it is a pipe under there with a bad leak.

If its clear and relatively clean, than it is not sewer or septic, which is good, because that saves more than $5,000-25,000.

Get a map of your property, determine what pipes are where, they will be clearly marked on your plot plan to the nearest three inches. (Federal Regulations require, that all properties and facilities to include both commercial and residential, must have all utility lines in plain view on all property schematics, that's federal regulation, i.e. the entire NATION so it doesn't matter what state you live in, by law your homes blueprints and plot plan will be accurate to the nearest 3 inches)

You can easily determine where the piping is , which will make life much easier in determining the location of the leak.

If worse comes to worse, you've struck an underground resuvoir, which if that's the case, your home owners insurance will most likely be covering all expenses and costs of relocating you and your family. But that, is a 1 in a million scenario.

It's most definitely a broken pipe. Check your building plans.

EDIT

something else to look into, start digging a 5ft wide, 5ft deep hole in your yard, than dig a 3ft by 2ft by 20ft trench from the hole you dug, and just before the holes that are flooded. install a drainage pipe between the holes and your 5X5X5 hole. Fill the hole with gravel for approc 4ft. then put down 6'' of sand over the gravel and drainage pipe, , then just do regular dirt over the sand and replant grass seed. After you link the holes with that drainage piping and drainage hole, your problem for flooding for the greater part should come to an end.

You can rent an Excavator for about $70 a day, which this should only take you about an hour or two hours to do. Then just dump the dirt somewhere, bring in the gravel, fill it in with the gravel, etc. etc.

It will allow the water to flow through the pipe, and then into your drainage ditch and harmlessly dispurse into the gravel and eventually further, deeper underground. Which in this case, is exactly what you want. Because it'll carry water away from your house, and into the underground.

Once you're all finished, just put topsoil or whatever soil is left over to fill the remaining 6'', and plant grass seed.

This project should run at most $300 including fuel. Because gravel is relatively cheap, so is sand.

Last edited by BigGuy01; 12-21-2011 at 06:17 PM.
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Old 12-21-2011, 06:21 PM   #14
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can't edit my above.

Also, if I may, could you post some photos of both holes, and the immediate area around the holes? (for personal safety reasons on the internet, any street signs, home numbers, etc. please use "paint" and cover them up. Start> AllPrograms> Accessories> Paint> open Fire> Click on Photo> click on Paint brush> click black color> put mouse over street signs etc> click down and cover> Save

The reason why, is quite simple, if the water coming in under the house is bothering you, and doesn't seem to stop, seeing the immediate area, can be benificial, in that we could figure out a good location to put the 5X5X5' hole, preferably 20ft away from the nearest foundation mark of your home. Get it into position link wise, install the piping, and then you link the outside hole with the inside hole, and the outside hole with the trench, and immediate drainage should occur on a large scale. Also, regarding the pics, just need pics of the ground, we don't care about your fence, etc. just obstacles on the ground. Which, before you do ANY digging, you need to observe your homes plot plan for utilities, and determine what piping is where.

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Old 12-21-2011, 06:59 PM   #15
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That pipe labeled as 1-B looks like your water service main. The fact that there is a valve and low voltage wire attached is a dead giveaway. The wire leads to a remote device on the exterior of the home where the city can scan it to read the meter, which is likely located beneath that insulation.

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