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Old 04-16-2017, 10:49 AM   #1
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Failed (NEW) Weeping Tile Interior French Drain System - HELP


Hi all - I am new here!

Hoping someone can help.

We've been in our house for ~2.5 years. We live in Northern New Jersey. We never had flooding; but there is consistent evidence of hydrostatic pressure after heavy rains and spring snowmelts. There was also some pooling of water at the wall/floor joint in some spots. We tried some things with pitching the grading away from the home; downspouts drain now run into the storm basin/sewer. This helped; but results were limited. We decided to just take care of it with a pro. After getting 3 to 4 estimates, we hired a seemingly reputable company that we found on Home Advisor (almost 5 Stars PERFECT from 18 verified customers). This was a local company in business since 2004. Local guy, seemed very knowledgeable; advertised that basement water issues were their specialty. As suggested by ALL of the contractors that gave estimates (STRONGLY recommended) we had a french drain weeping tile system installed in the floor on the (inside) of the basement walls - around the entire wall/floor perimeter. Two sumps were installed; with a water-powered back-up system. The job was completed in March 2016. There were problems almost immediately as there were still wet spots on the walls (one of the original symptoms); this was evidence to me that we still had hydrostatic pressure. We've had MANY heavy rains since the install and just had a major snow melt. I've never seen a trace of water in the sumps. Sumps have been DRY but walls are still getting wet. So the water is still pressing up on the outside walls but NOT getting to the french drains as designed. We called the contractor back and he came back a few times. That stopped in July 2016. Now he seems to have gone out of business. This was an expensive job. I filed complaints with Home Advisor, and some local NJ business authorities. I don't have high hopes of getting in touch with him but will continue to try.

Do you have any thoughts on why the water is not getting to where it should be going? As far as I can tell, the system is a complete failure. Is this something you might be able to assess and fix?

Any advice will be appreciated.
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Old 04-16-2017, 11:19 AM   #2
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Re: Failed (NEW) Weeping Tile Interior French Drain System - HELP


Water only makes it to the French drain AFTER it gets through the wall either naturally as you are seeing or intentionally through holes provided with the system.

A foundation is built on top of a footing and normally has drainage around the exterior and in many cases also around the interior. Exterior and interior should be connected together but at a level below the basement floor. If that connection is there then the water on the outside should be getting to the inside but unknown if the sump pits are also connected, sounds like they are not. Or the exterior drain system isn't connected to the interior.

What do you see for piped entering those sump pits and how low are they? How deep are the pits?

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Old 04-16-2017, 12:16 PM   #3
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Re: Failed (NEW) Weeping Tile Interior French Drain System - HELP


Bad news is you did not do the research and didn't think logically.
1. Regrading breaks up the dirt, which drains easily. Regrading has to be done with enough slope and compacted with soil that doesn't drain well-so that water flows away with enough speed and quantity not to soak into the earth next to the foundation. I will be regrading my back yard. I'll truck in some poor quality soil (but compacts and doesn't allow water to drain down), create some slope, overlay with rigid plastic or metal (maybe 2nd hand corrugated roofing?), do this for about 10' perimeter next to the foundation, over which a deck will go. Where exposed, I'll plant fast growing plant or grass to keep the soil together.
2. You did the inside drainage. So it makes sense the wall remains wet, since outside water is soaking the foundation until it drains to the bottom, either comes through the foundation cracks or foundation/footing joint. Water that comes in is captured by the inside drainage.
3. You say you had pooling. So water can travel and collect under the slab. Any area or all area. The pressure builds and water can come up through any path. This can happen no matter the kind of drain system you put in. This is a possibility even if you are nowhere in a flood zone. If the house is on a depression, water has better chance of collecting.

I'm not trashing you. It is frustrating having to answer the questions after the deed is done. But I'll give you some of this non-professional's thoughts. I'd assume the pros will give you one answer: you must protect from outside with pipes, day light or pump, and water proofing the wall. I'm in NE NJ and there wasn't a sustained down pour in past 2-3 yrs to give you the extreme test, so your solution may not handle those with some of these ideas. BTW, any stream or under ground stream known?
1. How wet is the wall? Actually wet your hands or just darkening spots? Moisture can be covered. XPS rigid insulation boards insulate and be a moisture and some water barrier. If using adhesive, vertical beads. Leave 1/4" joint and fill with can foam. Seal top and sides and make sure your inside drainage can capture any leak. May have to break some slab and leave with the gravel. Seal the bottom outside edge. Eternabond tape with primer will make a long-long term bond with xps and slab.

2. If finishing bsmt, don't make any holes in xps for electricals, etc. Defeats the purpose.

3. Study your property. If flat and water collects, you can grade more. Have fence posts, side walks with washed out joints, outside stairs, chip munks digging tunnels, flower beds with nice loam, a big tree with invasive roots, patio or driveway with loose laid pavers, a deck with mystery ground condition underneath, etc? May have to look over the fence and look at your neighbors drainage condition as well - but don't ask them to fix it.
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Old 04-16-2017, 03:56 PM   #4
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Re: Failed (NEW) Weeping Tile Interior French Drain System - HELP


Many people arbitrarily toss around the term "French Drain". A french drain collects water from the soil. A plastic cove system the floor at the wall or a trenched slab or floor drainage system that collects water only collects the water that has already leaked in.

The proper french drain inside a basement has the invert (bottom) below the bottom of the footings and installed dead level to sump for disposal. There is clean sand and gravel under and around the PVC that has perforations in the bottom half of the pipe.

I bought a home that was sited where it cut off or intersected the normal drainage pattern so efficiently that almost exactly 15 minutes after the start of a good rain there was water running across the basement floor. Exterior drain tile was totally out of the question because of a deck, sidewalks and a patio. The only choice was an interior drain tile system.

The actual basement of the home was only 25x25, but the remaining 50' of the length had stem walls and footings at least 4 below grades frost footing and provided a "funnel" back to the basement area. On the 3 outer walls, I put in perforated rigid pvc interior drain tile with the invert below the bottom of the footings. I knocked out the concrete and dug out the trench and by 12 year old son, some of his buddies and I hauled out the waste.

I hired a contractor to saw cut the basement slab the for a 18" wide opening (at top), leaving a 8" wide section every 6' or 8' to help the slab resist the 8' block walls that retained the soil. The openings were just long enough to get the length of pvc in and under the 4"x4" portions of the remaining slab. I mixed small batches of concrete to fill in the gaps in the slab after the pipe was backfilled.

The system worked and it was great to hear the sump pump kick in about 20 to 30 minutes after the rain started. Did not trust the Dri-Lok stuff, so I put on a coat of Thoroseal (bagged product that had the consistency of pancake batter) to the that had to be applied to a misted wall. Fortunately, I had a block basement, so could drill a 1" hole in the wall and at 2' up the water spouted out about 4' until and packed the hole with hydraulic cement.

During my work, I knocked a hole into the bottom course of the block wall and inserted a 6" length section of flexible plastic tubing down into the area to be filled with the sand and gravel around the drain tile. Obviously a 4" slab was poured over the sand and gravel. - That was 30 years ago and according to the present owner the basement is still dry.

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Old 04-16-2017, 04:13 PM   #5
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Re: Failed (NEW) Weeping Tile Interior French Drain System - HELP


The only way to keep water out of a basement is from the outside. Any other method is just dealing with it after it comes into the basement.

Regrading and moving gutters is great but it doesn't fix anything. It helps keep the water away but nothing is fixed. It's like a leaky boat. A leaky boat is nice and dry as long as you don't put it into the water.

Last edited by joed; 04-16-2017 at 04:15 PM.
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Old 04-16-2017, 05:03 PM   #6
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Re: Failed (NEW) Weeping Tile Interior French Drain System - HELP


Joed -

In a simplistic way, the grading is the obvious approach. Unfortunately there is the very common case where soils and their properties (gradation, particle shape/type and organic materials) limit the effectiveness of surface controls. A basement actually has 5 sides exposed to Mother Nature. - The 4 walls AND the basement floor and the included intersections and gravity so grading is not a guarantee.

Soil is generally laid in horizontal layers, but layers can easily be penetrated. Once water is absorbed by the soil, it becomes a groundwater situation. Once you dig, you expose the different layers and complicate the control of water.

Once you are dealing with groundwater, waterproofing a basement and the vulnerable area interior is increased a great deal and the solutions are limited since water can come from below and construction methods make the waterproofing of intersections prohibitively expensive.

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Old 04-18-2017, 06:35 AM   #7
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Re: Failed (NEW) Weeping Tile Interior French Drain System - HELP


Hi all,

Thanks for the good (logical) feedback.

I did lots of research and asked many questions prior to deciding the job was beyond my scope to DIY. I even asked about approaching it from the outside. All of the contractors told me the internal system would be the way to go; that any water pressing against the outside wall would go inside the block, into the 'cells' and go down to the bottom and through the weep holes and into the drainage system. My original question was why might it be hanging up instead of going down? I thought they might have either forgotten to drill the weep holes of did them incorrectly.
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Old 04-18-2017, 06:49 AM   #8
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Re: Failed (NEW) Weeping Tile Interior French Drain System - HELP


I really don't understand why none of them wanted to waterproof the outside of the foundation walls and install new weeping tiles.

Do you have a deck and driveway in the way?
Sometimes, you need to bite the bullet and move/cut thru these to do it right.
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Old 04-18-2017, 09:33 AM   #9
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Re: Failed (NEW) Weeping Tile Interior French Drain System - HELP


Quote:
water pressing against the outside wall would go inside the block, into the 'cells'
There is the first issue. Water is not supposed go inside the block.
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Old 04-18-2017, 10:32 AM   #10
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Re: Failed (NEW) Weeping Tile Interior French Drain System - HELP


Quote:
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There is the first issue. Water is not supposed go inside the block.
So it sounds like all 5 contractors essentially lied to me. I specifically had a debate with one where I challenged that the category of his business should be 'water management' NOT 'waterproofing". By letting it in to let it out.
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Old 04-18-2017, 01:24 PM   #11
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Re: Failed (NEW) Weeping Tile Interior French Drain System - HELP


Do you have a deck or driveway/sidewalk in the way?
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Old 04-18-2017, 01:26 PM   #12
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Re: Failed (NEW) Weeping Tile Interior French Drain System - HELP


Quote:
Originally Posted by 123pugsy View Post
Do you have a deck or driveway/sidewalk in the way?
Yes - there is a paver patio.
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Old 04-18-2017, 02:53 PM   #13
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Re: Failed (NEW) Weeping Tile Interior French Drain System - HELP


Quote:
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Yes - there is a paver patio.
Pavers are easy to deal with.

What's wrong with these clowns in your area?

They need to excavate down to the footings, install new weeping tiles, sealer on the blocks, water proof membrane.
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Old 04-18-2017, 04:16 PM   #14
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Re: Failed (NEW) Weeping Tile Interior French Drain System - HELP


It's not actually a waterproof membrane. It's a drainage barrier. It has dimples on it so water against the wall can drain down to the weeping tiles.
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Old 04-18-2017, 11:00 PM   #15
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Re: Failed (NEW) Weeping Tile Interior French Drain System - HELP


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So it sounds like all 5 contractors essentially lied to me. I specifically had a debate with one where I challenged that the category of his business should be 'water management' NOT 'waterproofing". By letting it in to let it out.
I've spent many years in business now, and used to do alot of foundation repair/waterproofing, but your example is exactly why I have gotten out of it here where I'm located. It's a complete "snake oil" business in my area, where they offer "lifetime warranties" and close down the business every few years to avoid honoring their word. The reason their repair sounds like BS is because, in fact, it is. BUT, it's far easier to "repair" from the inside, far more profitable for the contractor, and requires much less skill/talent, so the contractor can hire just about any knucklehead and label them a specialist within weeks.........
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