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Old 05-11-2011, 03:07 PM   #1
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Basement wall leaks & sump pump pit not filling


First post and I'm not fully versed in plumbing trade-speak so forgive my noobishness.

The previous owner of the house installed a sump pump and trench drainage system about five years ago. The house was inspected prior to purchase and after a week of heavy rain there was ZERO water in the basement. In the two years since then, most of one wall has started leaking along the trench line and the sump pump rarely turns on. The sump pump works if you dump a bucket of water in so that's not the problem. The sump pit just doesn't fill during the rains that accompany the wall leaks. What would cause this lack of drainage?

Thanks in advance.

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Old 05-11-2011, 05:10 PM   #2
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Basement wall leaks & sump pump pit not filling


It is possible that the perimeter drain is clogged or broken near the spot where the water is leaking through the wall. Or it is possible that the perimeter drain was simply not installed in that area. Or it is possible that the drain is covered with impermeable soil, and the water is perching above the drain and not entering it.

To diagnose, the simplest method is to dig up the drain line in the area of the leak, and verify that it is installed correctly. You will probably see the problem immediately, but you may have to check inside the perimeter drain to see if the drain itself is plugged.

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Old 05-11-2011, 05:38 PM   #3
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Basement wall leaks & sump pump pit not filling


could always have a plumber with a sewer camera take a look in your pipes
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Old 05-11-2011, 06:00 PM   #4
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Basement wall leaks & sump pump pit not filling


Some properly installed below floor interior drain tiles are a continuos loop around the basement. Look for a clean-out so can get access and possibly easily flush out with a hose if the is just a plug/obstruction. Otherwise, go the plumber/camera rout and avoid exposining the drain tile.

Silt can build up over time if the wrong backfill material was used.

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Old 05-12-2011, 02:10 PM   #5
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Basement wall leaks & sump pump pit not filling


Thanks to everyone for the info. The first plumber we found to look at it just dumped a bucket of water in the pit and ignored the standing water from the wall leaks. Needless to say he won't be hearing back from us. Somebody else is coming today with a snake camera to look for clogs. He couldn't make any promises as to whether he will be able so see anything.

Since we had good drainage into the sump during the inspection, the silt buildup or a collapse are the most likely culprits. The snake camera is being dragged downstairs as I type this.
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Old 05-26-2011, 01:01 PM   #6
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Basement wall leaks & sump pump pit not filling


Any update on what the snake camera found? I have a similar issue no water coming into the pit from the lines. Water is coming in from below the one lines and sump pump does its job. Is this normal or a sign of a problem?
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Old 05-26-2011, 01:16 PM   #7
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Basement wall leaks & sump pump pit not filling


Snake camera didn't find anything significant - the lines were free of obstructions below all the floor leaks. They suspect the only answer would be to rip it out and start over. Not in the current fiscal budget ($5k+) so we have to live with it.
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Old 05-27-2011, 12:14 PM   #8
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Basement wall leaks & sump pump pit not filling


Hey WierdAl1968,

How's your exterior drainage? Are your downspouts connected to drainage lines that move the water away from your foundation?

Grading? Are their low spots near your foundation where water can accumulate in puddles?

I'm just trying to picture why the water is getting into your basement area in the first place.
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Old 05-27-2011, 10:24 PM   #9
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Basement wall leaks & sump pump pit not filling


There is one low spot by a downspout that does leak into the basement but that isn't an issue as long as the downspout doesn't clog.

The wall that leaks faces the backyard. It was just grass when we moved in but she turned it into a flowerbed. Didn't think it was an issue b/c it still has a significant slope away from the house. None of the downspouts face the backyard FWIW.

The driveway is sloped away from the house but there is some minor inward bowing of that basement wall.
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Old 06-02-2011, 11:01 AM   #10
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Basement wall leaks & sump pump pit not filling


A few things I see here.

The flower bed close to the foundation is a bad idea. You should keep plants that need constant watering as far away from the house as possible. If the flower bed is layered with mulch, it is even worse, because the mulch soaks up water.

Downspouts that discharge too close to the house are also a huge problem. I would suggest that you extend them as far in the yard as possible. Downspout extensions are inexpensive and will help.

The problem with the soil around foundations is that, because it was once dug for the basement to be built, and then backfilled, it is more lose than the undisturbed soil around it. It soaks water like a sponge and creates a "fake" water table around the house. In the industry, we call it the "clay bowl effect".

Because it is like a sponge, water that spills into one corner will spread through capillary action (just as if you dip the tip of a dry sponge in water you will get at least half of it soaked) and might leak into the basement from another corner, because water seeks the path of less resistance.

As for the drainage system, if it is an interior drain system, talk to the last homeowner. If it was installed by a good, reputable company, it should be covered by a Lifetime Transferable Warranty. In other words, the people who installed it should honor the warranty and service the system for you.

If it is an exterior french drain buried by the footing, I am afraid you are on your own. These systems clog and collapse often and there is usually no warranty for them.

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