How To Seal Up 'The Pit', Aka: Old Unused Cellar Entrance. - Concrete, Stone & Masonry - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum
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Old 10-14-2014, 01:57 PM   #1
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How to seal up 'The Pit', aka: Old unused cellar entrance.


Hey guys, long time lurker, first time poster.

I have a rather annoying problem in my 1870's brick house. The basement is very clean for the age of the place, with a newer concrete floor and recently patched stone walls. There is some weeping during heavy rains, but nothing major.

The cellar door opening is another story. It was originally built out of limestone blocks like the rest of the foundation, but has since been patched with concrete blocks and masonry. The floor appears to be rough concrete. There is an old door, long since sealed shut, that opens to my basement. During any heavy rain or during the spring snow thaw, this door leaks like a sieve. I have a floor drain and can deal with the water, but dirt runs in with the rain and messes up my floor.

I don't use this door whatsoever and want it gone. I was thinking I need to break up the exterior 'Pit' floor and dig down a couple feet and fill it with drain tile. Then I should be able to seal the opening properly with concrete block, and a waterproof membrane for good measure. I figure I can leave the existing stone walls as long as I drain the bottom out well enough. Is this going to work? Or should I just attempt to demolish the entire 'Pit' and remove the old stone and masonry(a considerably larger task).
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Old 10-14-2014, 02:02 PM   #2
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Link to the cellar opening pics.

http://imgur.com/a/CamlZ
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Old 10-14-2014, 04:14 PM   #3
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I have several possible solutions.
If you would like to keep the door then
1. You need a drain in the bottom of the stairwell.
2. You should build up the curbs around the stairwell so ground water does not flow directly into the stair well.
3. The floor of the well looks level with the inside floor. It should be slightly lower to prevent water flow.

If you want to seal it up permanently then
1. Remove the door and framing.
2. Fill in the hole in the foundation with concrete block.
3. Break out the floor of the well and make sure the weeping tile continues trough the hole.
4. Seal the new block wall, apply drainage barrier and fill hole with dirt.
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Old 10-15-2014, 05:39 AM   #4
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unless that grate @ stairway's btm leads somewhere, all you'll do is install a drywell,,, i don't think that's desireable as noted, bld up curbs around the stairwell to redirect surface wtr,,, we'd also fill the hole w/conc block pinned to existing wall then wtrproof w/basf's hlm5000 or equal material - trowel/brush applied

whatever you do, remember wtr runs downhill & WILL seep thru the backfill so compact well,,, also give wtr an alternate pathway so it takes the desired path of least resistance - away from your very fine home's bsmt
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Old 10-16-2014, 05:26 PM   #5
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From what I am reading, I understand that I should just have to break out the floor of the pit and ensure that it can drain properly before sealing the door opening up and filling it in? Should I be concerned about the sidewalls of the pit?

And no, there is no functioning grate in the bottom of the pit, nor is there a drain of any kind.

I don't think I can increase the height of curbs, or else it will put the entire well too high to be paved or landscaped over.
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Old 10-16-2014, 05:59 PM   #6
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If you are filling it in then you do not need to be concerned about the pit walls, only the basement wall.
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Old 10-16-2014, 10:41 PM   #7
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Alright thanks guys. I think I have a good idea of how to proceed. Probly will wait until next spring to go on this.
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Old 10-17-2014, 03:12 PM   #8
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what about building up the walls on the outer edge, then build a small pitches roof with sufficient overhang at the front. This would keep water from coming in a the top. Could then use it for storage.

If the water comes in from the walls, then the others have better suggestions
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Old 10-24-2014, 11:38 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmyfloyd View Post
what about building up the walls on the outer edge, then build a small pitches roof with sufficient overhang at the front. This would keep water from coming in a the top. Could then use it for storage.

If the water comes in from the walls, then the others have better suggestions
I think there is a significant amount of water coming in the walls. They're mostly just old limestone block and the mortar is failing. It would be a big job to repair them.
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Old 10-24-2014, 12:03 PM   #10
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then don't both repairing the walls,,, just put a sump & pump in the bottom & pump out so the discharge runs downhill anything else would force the wtr to seek another path to relief & that might be into your bsmt wtrproof the bsmt wall & direct all leakage into the sump 'sides, you can never wtrproof from the inside
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