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Old 03-26-2009, 12:28 PM   #1
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Need help solving spring basement flooding problem


I have a walk-out basement, and about every three years, if we have a heavy snow and then warm weather, my back yard floods and water seeps in through my basement patio door. I have a drain-tiled basement, but pumping can't keep up with the water coming in. My back yard slopes toward this patio door, and I don't think the house should ever have had a walk-out. The 18 foot wide by 7 foot high wall where the 5 foot door is located is 2 X 4 construction covered with sheathing (fibreboard?) and faced with masonite lap siding. It has a concrete block footing, and the remainder of the basement is full height concrete block. I'd like to take out the patio door, and install a window that's 5' wide by 3' high and then raise the grade of the yard by about three feet to create drainage away from the house. My problem is, the inside of the basement is finished, and I don't want to have to rip out the interior finishes to install a four foot high concrete block half-wall (which I'd then have tied in to the upper frame wall). This isn't a supporting wall, so I'm wondering if I can have the existing siding and sheathing removed down to the framing, and then have the wall finished the same way they do when building a wood foundation. That way, all of the work would be done from the outside. Would that work or am I stuck with having to have a block half-wall installed and the frame wall tied into that instead? Any suggestions would be appreciated. Although I'm handy, I'll be hiring this project out.

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Old 03-26-2009, 01:02 PM   #2
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Need help solving spring basement flooding problem


Prairie, I was with you for most of the question, but what I don't understand is what were you planning to do with the existing patio door?

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Old 03-26-2009, 04:57 PM   #3
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Need help solving spring basement flooding problem


I just don't trust underground wood foundations. But I guess some folks have used them successfully. I'm pretty sure the studs have to be pressure treated and yours likely aren't. Since you'd be ripping it out anyway I'd be more comfortable replacing the wall with block.

But actually I wouldn't want to give up the walkout basement and I'd spend a lot of time trying to figure out a solution that would let you keep the walkout. How about a good trench drain system that either gravity drains to daylight downhill of the basement floor or into a basin that is pumped out to somewhere downhill of the floor?
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Old 03-26-2009, 05:12 PM   #4
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Need help solving spring basement flooding problem


Just building up a concrete wall doesn't help the fact the water is still collecting, and it will enevtually destroy and make its way through the wall into the house

You gotta stop the water, regrade the land, install a trench maybe to an outdoor sump pump just for that area? Either will be a lot easier/cheaper than rebuilding the wall
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Old 03-26-2009, 09:11 PM   #5
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Need help solving spring basement flooding problem


The key phrase was, "my back yard floods". You need to look at that and stop that issue. Everything else is a waste of time.
Why does it flood? Post some pictures if you need help figuring it out.
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Old 03-27-2009, 12:28 AM   #6
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Need help solving spring basement flooding problem


cut the backyard DOWN till it runs the other way. MAY have to build retaining walls if necessary. IF it slopes higher in back to lower in front yard,grade it so water has to run to BOTH sides before it runs to front of house.

Put a pit type sump pump well right outside the door for once in a lifetime gully washers!! Maybe a long trench and grid on top
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Old 03-27-2009, 08:33 AM   #7
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Need help solving spring basement flooding problem


Thanks for all of your responses! In answer to the first, I was planning on removing the patio door entirely. As to regrading: all of my neighbors on the sides and back of my yard are higher than me, so in the spring, all of the run-off comes into my back yard. I forgot to mention that we all have yards of at least an acre; mine is 1.1 acres. I also have a pond in my front yard, that half the street drains into, via a city-installed culvert. My pond is only about thirty feet across, so can't handle the volume of water, so it overflows into my back yard. As far as installing a french drain, or trenching, etc., would that work if there's ice and snow over it and water on top? Seems like that's only a good solution for heavy rains. Let me explain more why I'm thinking of removing the patio door and why I think that will solve the problem: the back of my house (including the attached garage) is about 65 feet long. All of that length, except for the middle 18 feet where the patio door/walkout is, is graded to about half the height of the foundation, or four feet. At those points, I have no trouble with water entering the basement. It's only in the middle where this wood foundation wall is that it's a problem. I don't mind if the back yard is flooded in the spring for a few days, because it eventually evaporates or sinks into the ground, so If I can keep it away from the entire length of the foundation, I should be OK. My problem is, even if I could dig a trench, there I'd have to route or pump the water over 100 feet to keep it away from the house. There is no natural lower elevation anywhere near my property, except for a large pond across the street on the front side of my house, which would be over 200 feet from this problem. Here's a picture of the back of the house. Hope this helps, and I really do appreciate the suggestions.
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Old 03-27-2009, 09:18 AM   #8
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Need help solving spring basement flooding problem


Your thinking is definatlely on the right track IMO. I have seen quite a few basement walkouts (new homes) we've done the foundation for that are too tight for comfort. It's especially bad with today's almost standard 9' basement.

As for a wood foundation, I cant say I have any experience. I tend too sway towards the masonry for a long term fix. Your already going to be doing patchwork at the old patio door.

I would also stay away from any mechanical fix like pumps or even french drains, as at some point, they all need repair.
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Old 03-27-2009, 09:37 AM   #9
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Need help solving spring basement flooding problem


You did not give a reason for wanting to remove the patio doors. I am going to assume that you want to do this as part of the solution for this water problem. As stated earlier by another poster I would try to keep the walkout as this is a positive feature for the house. If you want to get rid of it for other reasons based on interior design of the house that is something else entirely. But it really isn't necessary to remove them to solve this problem.

As stated you need to re-grade so that the slope goes away from the house. One solution would be to create a sunken patio area in front of the patio doors. This sunken patio would be bordered by retaining walls that would allow you to raise the elevation of the ground and create a slope away from the house.

We had one of these in our previous house and it worked very well. It included a drain on the patio floor that tied right into the houses drain tile system. That way any water that was on the patio was channeled directly to the drain time and then to the sump pump. I don't think you mentioned your sump pump system. Where does yours send it's water?

Here is a link to an online photo of a patio similar to what I am talking about. I'll see about pulling up a picture of the patio we had at our old house too.

http://hdslandscaping.com/images/for...tio-w-wall.jpg
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Old 03-27-2009, 11:23 AM   #10
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Need help solving spring basement flooding problem


Prairiedoggy, Your saying that your neighbors yards on both sides and back drain into your backyard and that your front yard also drains into your backyard. Yikes! What were you thinking when you bought a house in a hole? Water always runs downhill. Never, never never do that again!

You need to find some way to add drainage to your yard. Trenching or pumping water 100 feet is certainly doable. Can you put a culvert under the road to the lower pond area you described?

Can you regrade the backyard to slope away to a large collection basin (say 100' by 100') in your backyard as far from the house as possible. Make it deep enough to handle the worst snow melt or rain you expect to ever happen. Put a sump pit/pump in one corner of the collection basin. The collection basin will provide a large buffer so you don't need a huge pump - just a regular sump pump should work.

If you make the collection basin relatively flat bottomed the kids can use it for a play area during the dry summer months and you can flood it with an inch of water and ice skate during the winter.
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Old 03-27-2009, 03:25 PM   #11
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Need help solving spring basement flooding problem


Again, thanks to all for your responses. I'll research possible ways to change the yard drainage before considering removing the patio door. If may come down to whatever is cheaper. I'm selling the house in two years and I don't want to put more into it than I have to, but I also don't want to dump this problem on the next owner (like the last owner dumped it on me).
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Old 03-27-2009, 03:49 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prairiedoggy View Post
Again, thanks to all for your responses. I'll research possible ways to change the yard drainage before considering removing the patio door. If may come down to whatever is cheaper. I'm selling the house in two years and I don't want to put more into it than I have to, but I also don't want to dump this problem on the next owner (like the last owner dumped it on me).

Prairie, just something to consider for you.

I look at a lot of foundation, concrete, etc.. problems for past customers, friends, a few real estate agents, etc.. for real estate sales. The thing I notice especially with foundation & water problems is that a buyers cost assumption is far higher in most cases than the actual repair cost. You have far more control over the costs if you repair them before hand, and it also shows that the problem no longer exists. Buyers tend to be VERY apprehensive about this issue, often times walking away from there first choice in homes, rather than take money in escrow. In this housing economy (at least in my area) where there's a lot of homes on the market, this could force you into an even longer sale.

At the same time though, it's 100% your decision which way you decide to go with the situation. Merely my opinion & past experiences.
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Old 03-29-2009, 09:30 AM   #13
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Need help solving spring basement flooding problem


I dug around on the harddrive and found a few pictures of the patio we had at our old house. This work had been done by a previous owner at some point to address an issue similar to yours.

One picture is taken from a window above and the other two are taken through the basement door looking out onto the patio.

The walls and stairs were constructed out of pressure treated lumber and a few old railroad ties. If we had stayed in the house one of my summer projects was going to be rebuild the whole thing using a much nicer retaining wall block system.

The floor of the patio was a plain concrete slab with a drain at the low point that connected into the house drain sump pump. The area was directly exposed to rain with no roof and in seven years living there we never had a single issue with water from the paito. The only maintainence was to clean leaves off the drain every once and awhile.

Good luck.
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Old 03-30-2009, 10:56 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jomama45 View Post
Prairie, just something to consider for you.

I look at a lot of foundation, concrete, etc.. problems for past customers, friends, a few real estate agents, etc.. for real estate sales. The thing I notice especially with foundation & water problems is that a buyers cost assumption is far higher in most cases than the actual repair cost. You have far more control over the costs if you repair them before hand, and it also shows that the problem no longer exists. Buyers tend to be VERY apprehensive about this issue, often times walking away from there first choice in homes, rather than take money in escrow. In this housing economy (at least in my area) where there's a lot of homes on the market, this could force you into an even longer sale.

At the same time though, it's 100% your decision which way you decide to go with the situation. Merely my opinion & past experiences.
You're correct; I'd rather correct the problem while I live there, as opposed to being sued and have to possibly spend more later. I'm now leaning toward the regrading, drainage solution as my first choice.
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Old 03-30-2009, 10:58 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragon View Post
I dug around on the harddrive and found a few pictures of the patio we had at our old house. This work had been done by a previous owner at some point to address an issue similar to yours.

One picture is taken from a window above and the other two are taken through the basement door looking out onto the patio.

The walls and stairs were constructed out of pressure treated lumber and a few old railroad ties. If we had stayed in the house one of my summer projects was going to be rebuild the whole thing using a much nicer retaining wall block system.

The floor of the patio was a plain concrete slab with a drain at the low point that connected into the house drain sump pump. The area was directly exposed to rain with no roof and in seven years living there we never had a single issue with water from the paito. The only maintainence was to clean leaves off the drain every once and awhile.

Good luck.
Thanks for posting the pictures; I'll think about encorporating something like that in my solution. Odd though it may be, right now I don't have a sump pump in my sump pit, because until this year, I've never had enough water in it to need to pump it out. I will be adding one for sure now.

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