DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum (
-   Flooring (
-   -   Water coming up through cracks in basement (

rockarmygreen 10-30-2009 11:03 AM

Water coming up through cracks in basement
I have been looking around and mostly finding threads and how to's on water coming through walls. We have recently purchased our home and we are getting water in our basement. I can stand over the cracks after a good rain and literally watch the puddles of water form at the cracks and seams in the basement. Some are coming from the wall to floor joint, but mostly the floor but none that i can notice coming outta the walls. The house was built in the mid 20's and there are two sump pumps currently installed and seem to be working. I'm not sure what to do, i would be willing to cover the walls and floors from the inside together somehow but is a large basement. Digging doesn't seem to be a reasonable option as I am not noticing the walls leak, can anybody help please?!?!?


ccarlisle 10-30-2009 12:45 PM

Where are you? are the leaks right after a rain storm or days later? have you checked on the grading of the ground around the house and the gutter system? You say two sump pumps, on either side of the house, together or what and are both the inlets working?

Did you have the house inspected?

concretemasonry 10-30-2009 01:24 PM

You definitely have water under the slab and around the basement. You are just seeing where it enters the basement and not the source of the leakage behind a waterproofing barrier (if any) or the way the water is getting around the basement. It takes some hydrostatic pressure to force the water through a crack or joint, the water outside is higher than the point of where the leak shows up.

Since you have two pumps installed there must have been a reason they were installed in the past.

A few possibilities:

1. You drain tile could be ineffective or partially collapsed. That is a reason you get some water to activate the sump pumps a little, but the tile is collecting all the water around the basement.

2. There could be a leak in a pipe in the soil. A buried pipe for the storm water from the roof gutters could be one source and this could be very quickly after a rain storm. Another possibility is another buried drain line in the area is leaking and the water finds its way to the area around your basement (this would take more time).

3. Water could be following a trench excavation (new or old) back toward your house. Utility line trenches, sump discharge trenches or something similar could be possibilities.

Has any excavation been done withing a 100-200 feet of the house in the last 10 years?

As mentioned, the time delay between the rain and the time when the leak appears is important to get an idea of the possible source.

If you have water coming through floor cracks any surface applied material would be very temporary.


rockarmygreen 10-30-2009 02:14 PM

Yes, I have noticed the grading around the house, 3 sides seem to be sloping away and the side with the driveway might be almost level but i believe to be sloped away a little bit. We are located in iowa and have a good distance between houses. The sump pumps are pretty much on each side of the house, driveway side and opposite side. As far as excavations, am not sure, not sure how to check on something like that or with the tiles and drains outside. It had been raining most of the day yesterday and started noticing it just before diner time and than this morning the floor was steadily covered before i left for work with a few dry spots here and there... The biggest question i guess i have is this something i can fix myself? I am pretty handy and can operate a shovel or digging equipment, just wouldn't know where to start with it all nor am i rich.
Thanks for all the input!

Daniel Holzman 10-30-2009 03:02 PM

There is a good chance that you are seeing groundwater entering your basement from cracks in the floor. The level of groundwater is determined by a combination of local topography (the grade of land around your house), the precipitation, time of year, and soil properties. The best way to handle groundwater is to install a perimeter drain around the house, and direct the flow away from your basement, typically to a low spot on the lot.

It is possible that your house does not have a perimeter drain, many houses do not (I don't have one at my house). Unfortunately, it was not common to install perimeter drains 30 or more years ago, only recently has it become common practice.

The sump pumps will only reduce groundwater to the level the pumps draw down to, so for example if the low level cutoff is 3 inches below your slab, groundwater cannot be lowered more than 3 inches below your slab using the pumps. Additionally, the pumps only draw from a limited area. The lower the permeability of the soil beneath your slab, the smaller the area the pumps will drain.

There are some things you can do yourself, and others that may require professional assistance. Installation of a perimeter drain is a relatively simple project, however you need a backhoe and a good design for the drain. You also need a suitable place to direct the water to. If you can get a backhoe, or hire an operator, you could do some or most of this work yourself. A perimeter drain is most likely to eliminate your problem. If you wish to pursue this option, I could give you some ideas about how to construct one.

You could lower the sump pump pits. This would allow the pumps to draw the groundwater down further, and would potentially eliminate your inflow problem The further you lower the pump pit, the more often the pumps will run. Lowering the pits typically requires you to dig a deeper hole, which is harder than it sounds when the hole is full of water. This is a project best undertaken during the dry season.

There are also interior drain systems that are typically installed by professionals. They are typically pretty expensive, but can be very effective.

Attempting to waterproof your floor from the inside is almost impossible, and even if it worked, the pressure of the water underneath the floor could crack the concrete. I don't recommend it.

concretemasonry 10-30-2009 03:34 PM

Interior drain tiles can be a DIY project if you have a little help. I did it with help from my 12 year old son and a few of his friends (took took out the small concrete section and dirt/clay, brought in the rock/sand to surround the perforated pvc and hauled in the sand & gravel for the 100 lf of wall).

I did hire a contracror with a saw to come in and cut/score the areas for removal (6' long x 16" wide) that were separated by about 8" - 12" of slab that was not removed.

I did the knocking out and the mucking of the wet clay and installation of the sump, pump, the sand/gravel and pvc placement and concrete mixing for the floor patches. I also put in drains from the block cores to the drain tile area. I also applied Thoroseal to the walls for insurance.

Topography is not an absolute of dryness or leakage. My driveway was so steep that several times my car (on warm tires) slide down the driveway in the winter. My water source as from the attached garage 30 at a minimum away from the basement, but the stem walls intercepted the natural grainage, so the water followed the footings to the lowest point. In my case, it took about 8 hours after the start of a hard rain and the original (now solved) leakge continued for several days after the rain because of the amount of water that was stored in the soil.


Total time was 3 week-ends and a few nights a week, but the toting out was done whenever the schedule permitted.- Not costly and it worked, but some sweat was needed.

It took time some observations and some engineering to determine the reason for the water.


Straightgrain 11-01-2009 05:13 PM

We had this exact problem 2 years ago after nearly 10 inches of rain over a 48 hour period, which was after a 18 inch snow quick thaw/melt due to rapid temperature change. I was bewildered to find water coming up thru hairline or slightly larger cracks in the basement slab. The responses you've received from others are correct. I would concur that you probably have hydrostatic pressure due to water needing to escape (it will find it point of least resistance/lower pressure) and travel to this case your basement. It is because the water levels under your slab are at such a level that the pressue is pushing itself against the slab and ultimately through the cracks.

I had some concrete experts evaluate and ended up having a full perimeter and 3 cross channels (running from wall to wall) of interior drain tile installed under the slab. While costly, so far it has proved successful. We live on a higher water table to our 2 interior pumps and 1 exterior pump operate about 4 months out of the year (early to late spring).

Good luck, I know how troubling this issue can be.

rockarmygreen 11-02-2009 03:16 PM

Hmm...So it sounds like my best bets are to to develop a plan to put in a perimeter drain around the house, dig my sump pump pits a little deeper, and to cut strips of concrete in the different rooms of my basement and lay gravel and tile running to the sump pumps? They all sound do-able if I probably googled a how-to for plans because it sounds like all the equipment needed for any of the jobs I can just zip up to the rental store and pick up. Unless somebody has something like that readily available or know of a good place to find one? So, besides digging the pits deeper, which should I try first or should I do both? And now we are getting into winter, should I wait till after all the snow melts and the rainy spring to try to tackle this or before right now before the ground freezes?

Thanks again for everything!!

concretemasonry 11-02-2009 03:37 PM

Your pits may already deep enough since they usually do not collect too much water from the soil, but receive it from the drain tile. A larger or deeper sump will only increase the amount of water it holds until the sump pump kicks in. The pump will just not run as frequently, but longer when it does run. The amount of water the drain tile collects determine how much water you can get rid of.


Jason Beaken 04-09-2015 08:48 AM

I am having a similar problem. I just took out some old tile in my basement and noticed a damp spot in the middle of the room. I wiped it up and was surprised to see that the small puddle slowly seeped back up. I am laying new ceramic tile in this room and I'm wondering if there is something that I can do to seal this hairline crack before I tile it or if I will need to look into doing work on the perimeter drain.

jomama45 04-09-2015 08:57 AM

Seeping floor cracks are a tell-tale sign of high water table under the basement floor. Concrete is not waterproof on its' own, so it's usually most realistic to manage it by lowering the water table via drain tile/clear stone/sump pump systems. That said, every situation is unique, and generally needs professional on-site evaluation to come up with the best resolution.......

AllanJ 04-09-2015 09:26 AM

Tryihg to seal the crack in the floor while doing nothing else is likely to be unsatisfactory after a few years. The crack could open up again due to settling of the house and/or vibration from trucks on the street outside.

Are there any 3 inch or 4 inch pipes emptying into your sump pump pit?

If not then you might not have a perimeter drain system and the seepage up onto the middle of the basement floor indicates you need a perimeter drain system.

In most cases the drain system around the perimeter only is good enough.

For an existing house, an exterior drain system or an interior drain system is usually decided based on how difficult it would be to install one versus the other. An exterior system will need a lead in pipe through the foundation or footing to the inside pit or could use an outside pit.

The significance of digging the pit deeper after installing drain lines is so the pump can run longer cycles without having the water level rise to cover the drain pipes which can cancel out the benefits of the drain pipe system.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:37 PM.

vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.

Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.1