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Old 03-04-2011, 07:18 PM   #1
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Need help figuring out walk-out basement water intrusion issue


Hi,

I'm new and have done projects around the house and yard but don't consider myself to be terribly experienced, but have some general knowledge.

I'm having problems with the bottom of my walk-out basement stairs flooding. We bought our 1970 house 10 years ago. It has a raised basement with stairs leading to ground level completely outside the house. Being naive at the time, I didn't notice, and it was never brought up during inspection, that the drain at the bottom of the stairs outside was cemented in. Later I found a drain under the flooring in the laundry room, from which you access the basement stairs, that was also filled with cement. Our house was built on a swamp so I assumed that maybe when the water table got too high the drains backed up and so previous owners sealed the drains? No idea.

During prolonged heavy rain or rapidly melting heavy snow, I get a lot of water into the basement from this area. There is only maybe a 1-2 inch drop from the door threshold to the bottom of the stairs so you can imagine that it doesn't take much water before the level is high enough to start coming in from under the door.

I had a roof built over it so that very little, if any water comes down the stairs. But that didn't solve the problem. So I had a sump pump installed in the laundry room near the door. My thinking was that the water table rose too rapidly and was seeping up through the concrete there. But although the sump pump came on during those times. My basement still got water in it.

I tried sealing all the edges and corners where I thought water may be leaking through but no luck. This past week, we had heavy rain again. The sump pump never came on and I noticed that very little water was actually even entering the pit. And yet, once again, the water started to rise at the bottom of the stairs. Where is it coming from? Do you think the seal on the drain is compromised and water is seeping through the concrete? It is this area that first gets wet. A puddle first forms in the center where the drain was and the area surrounding it is all dry. Or could the water be coming in around the outside of the drain? Again, where is the water coming from? The sump pump pit would suggest the the water table is not too high. Could I have bad drainage around the house in that area so water is collecting under the bottom of the stairs and seeping through? But I have no other leaks into the basement at all. I'm left with thinking that the drain seal is leaking but can anyone tell me why water is backing up into it. How do I fix this?

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Old 03-04-2011, 07:58 PM   #2
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Need help figuring out walk-out basement water intrusion issue


You need to post a picture---way to many details--The stairs that flood do they go up to the walk out entrance--or down to it?

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Old 03-04-2011, 08:13 PM   #3
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Need help figuring out walk-out basement water intrusion issue


To check if it is the drain- break down to good pipe, install a "donkey" in the pipe, wait for it to rain, examine.

Gary
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Old 03-04-2011, 08:21 PM   #4
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Need help figuring out walk-out basement water intrusion issue


Sorry for all the details. I didn't want to leave anything out because then I'll just be asked questions and have to provide the details eventually anyway

The stairs start at the bottom of the basement and lead upwards to ground level. There are about 5 steps. Cinder blocks wall off the soil on either side.
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Old 03-04-2011, 08:24 PM   #5
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Need help figuring out walk-out basement water intrusion issue


Thanks Gary. Can you tell me what a "donkey" is? And if it is the drain, what should I do about it?
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Old 03-05-2011, 08:12 PM   #6
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Need help figuring out walk-out basement water intrusion issue


You could be getting water through the side retaining walls or the drain, blocking the drain would help reduce the causes list; http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1...atalogId=10053
Buy the closest size for the drain. Cinder blocks are easily penetrated by water, have you ruled them out?

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Old 03-05-2011, 08:42 PM   #7
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Need help figuring out walk-out basement water intrusion issue


Hey, thanks for helping. I'm pretty sure the retaining wall is fine. When the flooding first starts, I examine the walls and don't see any moisture. I have also sealed all around the edges where the bottom meets the wall, etc. The water always starts to accumulate in the center of the bottom of the stairs (where the drain was) with the surrounding area remaining dry.

We're having heavy snow melting right now and the water is accumulating again. Today I poked around the drain area a bit and the top layer of cement was easily chipped off. So now I'm pretty sure that water is backing up through the drain. I have no idea how this drain was originally installed or why water is moving in the wrong direction. I think I'm just going to have to seal it again. I'm just not sure what product to use that won't fail in the future. Any ideas?
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Old 03-05-2011, 11:09 PM   #8
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Need help figuring out walk-out basement water intrusion issue


Many times those drains just run to an outside exit on the low side of the yard. Because it's older, it may run into the basement footing drain or (newer) downspout perimeter drain to City run-off?

I would clean off the top of the pipe and snake it or "witch" it to see the direction it heads, and possibly open it up as it may still be connected. Is the footing drain active, or do you know if one exists? Just plugging the stair end may work but why is water backing up into that drain section? Hence, the snaking.

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Old 03-07-2011, 01:01 PM   #9
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Need help figuring out walk-out basement water intrusion issue


Quote:
Originally Posted by toomanypets View Post

A puddle first forms in the center where the drain was and the area surrounding it is all dry.
Sounds like you've pretty much narrowed it down. If the first place the water appears is where the drain used to be, then it's pretty likely that's where it's coming from.

Can you determine where theses drains go?

If they go to the sewer, then there's probably not much you can do, besides remove the concrete and capping them properly. But if they drain to some location outside the house along with something else, it's possible there's a blockage that needs to be cleared.
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Old 03-07-2011, 02:49 PM   #10
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Need help figuring out walk-out basement water intrusion issue


Yeah. I'm in a difficult situation. It looks like cement was literally poured down the drain. I doubt I can clear it out. I now need something to seal it from the top that will bond to cement. If desperate, I'll have to try to create another drain from there to the sump pump which is just on the other side of the house wall. We've just had a huge amount of snow and the previous storm's snow just melted the day before. I'm back to having a flooding basement and pumping out water. Not fun.
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Old 03-07-2011, 03:24 PM   #11
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Need help figuring out walk-out basement water intrusion issue


Take a concrete chisel to it. Maybe they stuffed a rag in it before pouring.

Also, if you can chisel around it, down to plain pipe, you could put a rubber cap on it.

Good luck. Sounds like a mess someone's left for you.
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Old 03-09-2011, 09:04 PM   #12
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Need help figuring out walk-out basement water intrusion issue


I have this same problem; except - NO DRAIN.

My bottom two basement stairs are soaking wet and water is obviously coming in from somewhere. I thought it was the bilco door; but the upper stairs; the walls and the door/roof are all dry. It's just the bottom two stairs. There has been a sump pump installed about 2 feet from the door; it kicks on every once in a while; not often enough for us to notice. It does go off for a moment sometimes though.

I have had 4 basement guys in and they don't seem to care? I don't know what to do; the new washer/dryer are in that room and with the crummy Milwaukee "flash snow" happening this spring we may be seeing how bad it can get? I will take any and all advice!
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Old 03-09-2011, 09:10 PM   #13
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Need help figuring out walk-out basement water intrusion issue


I saw a Holmes on Homes show recently where the problem was similar to yours. Their solution was to break up the concrete at the bottom of the stairs, install a drain that emptied into a sump pump (which you already have) and then re-pour the base. May be what you want to do.

My problem is that I already have a drain where water is backing up so I need to deal with the drain first.
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Old 04-03-2011, 06:46 PM   #14
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Need help figuring out walk-out basement water intrusion issue


i have the same problem and found your this post looking for tips. i know my problem though. have you figured yours out?
my basement walkout (in ontario, canada) was done terribly and now snow melt and rain fill up the bottom of the steps. my cinder-block wall is caving in.

do you notice mud with the water? if you do, your problem is probably the same as mine. the area adjoining the wall is lower than the areas around it. any run off water sits next to the wall (in freezing temperature, i always noticed 2-3 inches of ice settle there). it eventually seeps into the ground and through the cracks in the wall. you can cover the larger cracks but water finds all sorts of smaller holes and gets to the bottom.

if this is the case, you have to grade the area around your walls away from the house. any run off needs to be taken away and out to the street/backyard. then you need to install weeping tiles at the bottom of your wall (i have to bring down the entire wall and build it again). the weeping tiles should be connected to your foundation drainage. that in turn should be connected out to the storm water (don't connect it to your sewers!)

the pipes are cemented in probably because you need permits to connect foundation drainage to the municipal storm water drainage or sewers. here in ontario, canada, we have to pay a few thousand bucks to get that permit, so some people (previous landlords) go cheap and put dud drain covers that don't lead anywhere. doing the walls, the weeping tiles, the drainage etc can cost you $5000 to $10,000. ask 2-3 contractors for quotes but pay an inspector to see the work is done right if/when you do it. one contractor said he could put a rubber film along the entire wall so water doesn't go from the other side into (and across) the wall and at the bottom of the steps.

lemme know if this helps
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Old 04-03-2011, 07:19 PM   #15
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Need help figuring out walk-out basement water intrusion issue


Thanks for trying to help. No, I don't have mud. I'm pretty sure the water is seeping up through the drain where the cement seal has failed. After talking to some family members, it was suggested that the drain goes to the weeping tile and that the tile is clogged, so that when we have excessive water, the water flows up the drain because it is the path of least resistance. Makes sense to me. So in the summer, I'm going to try to remove the cement from the drain and find out where the drain goes. If it looks like it goes to the weeping tile, then I'll consider digging down to the tile to unclog it. Thank goodness I have a raised basement so I won't have to dig too far.

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