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Old 05-31-2017, 09:41 AM   #1
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Maximum dimension of window well


Hello,

I have a drainage issue around the foundation that I am hoping to fix with what basically amounts to a big "window well" being dug along the perimeter of the house. The well would be something like 50 feet long and 6 inch wide and would be preferably connected to a 4-5 ft deep French drain using vertical pipes. The drain brings the water in my basement where a pump pushes the water to the sewer system. Another backup pump is there in case of primary pump failure that pushes water directly outside the house.

Couple of questions:

1) is such well too large to be handled by a sump pump? Note that I have roof overhangs that cover most of the area of the well and will grade the area around the well away from the house. I honestly do not expect much water to seep in the well.

2) Does it matter if I do not have the vertical pipes to connect to the French drain? I live in Canada so obviously snow and frozen ground are to be considered.

3) How deep the gravel layer in the well should be?

Note that I have posted the complete problem description here: http://www.diychatroom.com/f16/help-...height-496778/

Thank you,
Olivier
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Old 05-31-2017, 01:08 PM   #2
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Re: Maximum dimension of window well


Not sure of rules of sewage in Canada but collecting and bringing groundwater into the house and then pumping it into the sewer system does not sound like a permitted practice.
Pictures would be a big help with people providing alternative solutions.
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Old 05-31-2017, 01:45 PM   #3
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Re: Maximum dimension of window well


Quote:
...and then pumping it into the sewer system does not sound like a permitted practice.
Depends where you live. There are still a lot of Combined Sewer Stormwater systems in use, in both the USA and Canada. CSS systems are very Common in the Great Lakes basin.

If you are on a CSS system, there is no real difference between a sewer connection and a storm drain. There is only one pipe in the street.
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Old 05-31-2017, 09:54 PM   #4
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Re: Maximum dimension of window well


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Originally Posted by Oso954 View Post
Depends where you live. There are still a lot of Combined Sewer Stormwater systems in use, in both the USA and Canada. CSS systems are very Common in the Great Lakes basin.

If you are on a CSS system, there is no real difference between a sewer connection and a storm drain. There is only one pipe in the street.
Actually, it's more important in a CSS system not to put excessive water into the system. With this type of system when the system becomes overloaded right sewage can be allowed to escape into waterways etc. When storm water and sanitary sewer systems are separated if excessive stormwater goes into this stormwater system it just that create such a major problem.

Many communities have laws forbidding the discharge of any water from gutters, runoff etc. from entering the sewage system.
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Old 06-02-2017, 03:53 PM   #5
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Re: Maximum dimension of window well


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Originally Posted by bob22 View Post
Not sure of rules of sewage in Canada but collecting and bringing groundwater into the house and then pumping it into the sewer system does not sound like a permitted practice.
Pictures would be a big help with people providing alternative solutions.
OK I do not know whether I am pumping into the sewer or stormwater system but this type of setup is really common around here. Everybody has a sump pump connected to the city's infrastructure (not sure which exactly).

As for the problem itself it is basically low foundation height + negative slope that can't be fixed by adding soil or diverting the water to a lower spot. I can only dig down the yard or use a kind of wall system to raise the ground around the house without it touching the house itself. What are the typical solutions?
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Old 06-02-2017, 10:17 PM   #6
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Re: Maximum dimension of window well


Older parts of some cities do have combined sanitary/storm water system, but most that I have heard of have active programs to disconnect downspouts. I wasn't aware that some also have ground water connections but you say some apparently do. You will no doubt need a permit for this since it is a new connection to their system - existing connections may be grandfathered.

From what you describe, you want to have a 50' long by 6" wide open trench up again your foundation (you don't say how deep). If you're going to dig out along your foundation anyway, I really don't get the advantage of this "window well" versus a proper waterproofed wall and perimeter drain at the footing level. This open trench will fill with leaves and other detrius fairly quickly and eventually clog. I would also think such a plan would require a building permit and, if approved, be subject to their design requirements, including whether or not you needvertical piping. Quite frankly I'm not sure your would get a permit - it would be a departure from standard construction practices. Since it is an open trench, it could be argued that it will be surface runoff that you are wanting to discharge to the city as opposed to ground water.

I don't know how anyone could determine if your sump will be able to handle this since it is such a departure from normal practice. Even during a heavy rain, water slowly percolates into the ground - your proposal is a much more direct route. I don't think the size of the eaves will have much to do with it (if part of your problem is discharge from downspouts, that is another issue).

Last edited by lenaitch; 06-02-2017 at 10:19 PM.
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Old 06-08-2017, 10:35 PM   #7
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Re: Maximum dimension of window well


Hello lenaitch,

Yes, the problem of the trench filling with leaves and detritus came to my mind. Standard window wells have the same problem: they need to be cleaned regularly. As for the depth I was thinking something around 1' and filling the cavity with small rocks.

You are right that a permit would surely be required and not easily obtained. I guess I'm stuck with a high grade line around my low foundation - don't know how the previous owners got a permit for that construction! Probably the actual grading of the site was not taken into consideration. This design could have worked on a perfectly flat site without trees but in my case the actual grading and presence of trees makes the low foundation concept shaky.

I guess I could always do the "well" concept without connecting the trench to the French drain, but I'm afraid the trench may fill up with water during heavy rains which would eventually seep inside the wall or cause damage from humidity.

I would be interested in hearing more about your last suggestion: waterproofing the walls. How would you go at that if the wall is part brick/masonery and part aluminium cladding?

Thanks,
Olivier
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Old 06-09-2017, 08:43 AM   #8
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Re: Maximum dimension of window well


Unless you have steps or ladder rungs, don't expect to qualify it as an egress/exit.

The codes require the ability to allow a child, fireman with gear or a normal adult to use it in an emergency. - Otherwise, it can be a death trap.

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Old 06-09-2017, 09:20 AM   #9
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Re: Maximum dimension of window well


Sounds like you need those trenches that go across the front of a garage door when the garage is located down hill.
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Old 06-09-2017, 06:40 PM   #10
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Re: Maximum dimension of window well


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Originally Posted by olabreche View Post
Hello lenaitch,

. . .
I would be interested in hearing more about your last suggestion: waterproofing the walls. How would you go at that if the wall is part brick/masonery and part aluminium cladding?

Thanks,
Olivier
Perhaps I'm missing something in your description; I was thinking of a foundation wall - the presence of aluminum cladding throws me. Around here, waterproofing foundation walls is standard practice. There are a few methods and products, but one of the most common is a tar-based sealing coat applied to the wall then a dimpled membrane which adds another layer of waterproofing, protects the tar coating and allows any moisture that does get by it to drain down to the perimeter drain (sorry, I don't know any formal product names - others might). One foot deep isn't as bad as I was envisioning. Not as bad but it will still clog with debris. Without porous soil or vertical drainage, it may simply turn into a moat.

Perhaps photos would help. Also, where is your location. From your spelling of "aluminium" I suspect the UK (?).
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Old 06-15-2017, 10:01 AM   #11
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Re: Maximum dimension of window well


Quote:
Originally Posted by lenaitch View Post
Perhaps I'm missing something in your description; I was thinking of a foundation wall - the presence of aluminum cladding throws me. Around here, waterproofing foundation walls is standard practice. There are a few methods and products, but one of the most common is a tar-based sealing coat applied to the wall then a dimpled membrane which adds another layer of waterproofing, protects the tar coating and allows any moisture that does get by it to drain down to the perimeter drain (sorry, I don't know any formal product names - others might). One foot deep isn't as bad as I was envisioning. Not as bad but it will still clog with debris. Without porous soil or vertical drainage, it may simply turn into a moat.

Perhaps photos would help. Also, where is your location. From your spelling of "aluminium" I suspect the UK (?).
Hello Lenaitch,

I am in Canada and indeed misspelled "aluminum". I am talking about a regular wall on top of a concrete foundation which at some places is made up of masonery and at other places is aluminum cladding. I doubt there's an easy way to waterproof this. I made a picture that I uploaded here:

http://imgur.com/wxkTPah



I was thinking about doing a 1' deep well in red filled with rocks to allow raising the soil such that a positive slope can be created, but I think this option is not feasible due to regulation issues. I should also stress that currently I do not have any water issues probably due to the fact that the French drain below is fairly effective. I'm even wondering if the whole thing is worth it.

Finally I think I'll just dig to create a small positive slope over a distance of 3-4 feet away from the foundation and then add small landscaping blocks to retain the higher soil further away. This will create a step in my backyard but is a small price to pay to keep the water away. Any other suggestion?
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Old 06-15-2017, 02:39 PM   #12
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Re: Maximum dimension of window well


Ok, sorry, I missed your location in your first post. I re-read your posts and your other post regarding 'low foundation'. I still feel photos would help, and I'm certainly not a landscaper, but I have a few thoughts, in no particular order or connectedness:

- I'm not clear if you currently have a problem with water getting into your basement, or simply want to avoid one. Even with eavestroughs and good overhangs, you are right to be concerned about Spring runoff or a very heavy rainstorm.

- Waterproofing systems, such as tar and membranes, apply to the foundation and are usually not visible except often for a small visible area poking above the grade. They do not apply to the structural wall (above the foundation). As far as I am concerned, no amount of soil, rocks, etc. should be placed that would hold or drain water to the outside cladding, such as siding or brick.
- It sounds like you bought a house that has the top of at least part of the foundation very close to the grade, and that you have minimal slope to the grade of your property.
- I don't favour trenches, stones or rocks against the foundation. The goal should be to move water away from the foundation, not towards it.
- If you can't re-grade your property, the only think I can think of is to create a grade away from the foundation for 3-4' that ends in a swale to drain the water away. I like shallow swales since they don't require rocks, pipes, etc. and can be mowed. It doesn't have to be a huge slope, just enough to make the water move away from the house.
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Old 06-15-2017, 05:19 PM   #13
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Re: Maximum dimension of window well


I'll see if I can upload an actual picture. To answer your questions:

- There is no basement under the portion of the house with the low foundation, which is a recent extension. The old portion has a super-high foundation (like 36'' above grade). I mostly want to avoid humidity or water damaging the wall or foundation of the extension. There is no damage as far as I know at the moment but when we bought the house the inspector pointed this out as a problem and we now want to fix it.

- I do have a membrane around the foundation, but as you say, this solution is not applicable for the wall itself

- I indeed bought a house with the top of the foundation of the extension real close to the grading, and that grading is in places slightly negative towards the house. It can't be easily regraded.

- Regarding trenches, stones and rocks: the landscaper suggested placing landscaping blocks along the low foundation and filling the gap between the blocks and the foundation with rocks. I presume you are not in favor of this solution either?

- Regrading is difficult due to the presence of large trees. Removing 6'' - 1' of top soil everywhere on the property was considered but deemed not appropriate as it may badly damage or even kill the trees which are huge and may pose a hazard if harmed (not to mention that I like those trees).

- I'll take your suggestion on building a swale. The solution discussed at the end of my last post basically comes down to having a swale, only the swale will be created along landscaping blocks (the water will drain over a few feet until it hits the blocks, and from there will be made to circulate around the house). Do you think that 3 - 4 feet is sufficient?

As another twist to the story, there is a patio built along a portion of this low foundation. The patio is maybe 1 '' below the point where the wall meets the foundation. I thought I should lower it, the landscaper suggested to raise it to prevent the water from getting to the foundation. Again, he suggested placing landscaping blocks to separate the patio from the house and fill the gap with rocks. Finally, I am thinking I should not touch it at all and spare me some 3K. I am planning on making the swale adjacent to the patio such that the patio can drain towards it.

I know this all really sounds confusing. I will get some pictures, hopefully tonight. Thanks for your input, your help has been really valuable so far.
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Old 06-15-2017, 09:17 PM   #14
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Re: Maximum dimension of window well


Pictures of the low foundation here:

http://imgur.com/gallery/yyxuJ

On one of the segments the soil used to touch the aluminum cladding. I temporarily fixed the issue by digging down and filling with rocks. This fix can be seen on one of the pics.
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Old 06-23-2017, 09:32 AM   #15
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Re: Maximum dimension of window well


Hello, just though I would quote you so you get a notification :D See pictures above, you may have a better idea than I do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lenaitch View Post
Ok, sorry, I missed your location in your first post. I re-read your posts and your other post regarding 'low foundation'. I still feel photos would help, and I'm certainly not a landscaper, but I have a few thoughts, in no particular order or connectedness:

- I'm not clear if you currently have a problem with water getting into your basement, or simply want to avoid one. Even with eavestroughs and good overhangs, you are right to be concerned about Spring runoff or a very heavy rainstorm.

- Waterproofing systems, such as tar and membranes, apply to the foundation and are usually not visible except often for a small visible area poking above the grade. They do not apply to the structural wall (above the foundation). As far as I am concerned, no amount of soil, rocks, etc. should be placed that would hold or drain water to the outside cladding, such as siding or brick.
- It sounds like you bought a house that has the top of at least part of the foundation very close to the grade, and that you have minimal slope to the grade of your property.
- I don't favour trenches, stones or rocks against the foundation. The goal should be to move water away from the foundation, not towards it.
- If you can't re-grade your property, the only think I can think of is to create a grade away from the foundation for 3-4' that ends in a swale to drain the water away. I like shallow swales since they don't require rocks, pipes, etc. and can be mowed. It doesn't have to be a huge slope, just enough to make the water move away from the house.
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