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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We have more moisture in our basement (pictured below). I’m trying to understand what can be done to prevent it and how the drain system around our house works.

The house was built in 1952 and has a full basement with sump pit/pump and at least two drains on the basement floor (part of the floor is covered with old tiles), and there are window wells with drains on three sides of the house (not the front, where the yard does have a gentle slope toward the street). The window wells are shaped out of a ribbed metal and covered with plexiglass type material a couple inches above grade.

It’s my understanding that water that enters the soil around the perimeter of the house saturates the soil and presses against the basement walls, wicking its way inside. It also falls further underground and could under the foundation, wicking its way up to the basement floor.

I believe there’s a system of horizontal
pipes around the exterior perimeter of the house, so the window well drains have somewhere to go, and that horizontal pipe must drain into the sump pit eventually, possibly combined with the floor drains in the basement.

With the window wells covered and lined with metal, I’m not understanding how water can ever get to these drains. Why would they be covered if their job is to collect water?

What part of the system might be failing to cause the water damage shown in my photo?

I’d also like to know what the two pipes are that rise up from the area of moisture. One of them is capped off and the other tees off over to the sump pit and then also goes up into the wall to the first floor, but I’m not sure where that would end up going - there’s no vent pipe directly above it on the roof, and the kitchen and baths are over to the right of the basement window. Is this related to the floor drains and/or perimeter drain system?

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retired framer
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In the 50s if there is a drain system outside the house it will be clay tile and by now likely plugged
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New houses get painted with a damp proofing that should be visible just above the dirt on the outside.
I would not expect it to be great after 60 years.
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You have 2 white pipes going into the sump, where do they come from?
 

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Further to what Neil explained, it is possible the clay pipes are either broken, or full of plant roots (more common).

I think you have a good understanding of your perimeter drain system. Where the sump pump water gets pumped to can be either your lawn (common today), city storm sewers, or even possibly city sanitary sewers (long since stopped doing that).

Your window wells seem to have a drain to the weeping tile -- that is correct method. The reason you have acrylic over it is either the drain is not working, or somebody didn't understand the perimeter drain as well as you do, and thought that putting the covers was a good idea.

However, those window wells and the drain don't look vintage 1952. Is it possible work was done on the perimeter drain more recently ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks to both of you for the replies and insight. The PVC pipe entering the sump pit from the left side is from an unused basement bar sink that runs around the inside of the basement wall just so it’s out of the way I suppose - it hasn’t carried any water since we moved in last year. The PVC pipe entering the sump pit from the right/front comes from a window well drain that is also covered, and seems to be catching and diverting anything that would somehow make it into that well. This area is the front right side of the house where according to permits there was a macadam driveway in 1952 (grass now, former garage converted to living space).

The house was purchased by the previous owner in around 1970, at which time the basement appears to have been finished (9x9 brown and tan tile on the front half of the basement floor, wood paneling walls, drop ceiling). I’m guessing this was completely unfinished space in 1952 and work on the window wells and/or drain system could have been done in the 70s, but I’m not sure.

The window well above the moist floor looks fairly dry, but in the outside photo I do see a crack at the top of the foundation near where the water is. This is also very near to where a few pieces of rigid electrical conduit run underground under a brick walkway to the garage.

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retired framer
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Have you looked in the sump to see if there are pipes below the slab feeding in there.?
You might dig down a little and see how bad that crack is.
You might change that well so the drain comes thru the wall and connect it to the pipe that is there already.
You have what looks like a concrete curb with a bolt sticking up, did they replace a wall with a beam or??
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
There is in fact a pipe coming into the sump pit from below the slab, about a foot or so down into the pit. The floor drain in the photo showing the moisture goes down about 18 inches and then angles off in the direction of the sump pit.

Your one suggestion is that I potentially route the window well drain through the wall below the window near where the moisture is, and down into the unused bar sink drain line into the pit, to divert any water from that side of the house? That makes sense, but then might it also make sense to encourage rain water runoff to flow into that window well (and the other one that is already set up that way) to get as much water as possible to known functioning drain systems? I assume that would mean removing the window well covers, grading toward the well and making some path for the water to get inside the well somehow?

Also, could you specify or show what you mean by the curb with bolt sticking up?

Thanks!
 

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retired framer
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There is in fact a pipe coming into the sump pit from below the slab, about a foot or so down into the pit. The floor drain in the photo showing the moisture goes down about 18 inches and then angles off in the direction of the sump pit.

Your one suggestion is that I potentially route the window well drain through the wall below the window near where the moisture is, and down into the unused bar sink drain line into the pit, to divert any water from that side of the house? That makes sense, but then might it also make sense to encourage rain water runoff to flow into that window well (and the other one that is already set up that way) to get as much water as possible to known functioning drain systems? I assume that would mean removing the window well covers, grading toward the well and making some path for the water to get inside the well somehow?

Also, could you specify or show what you mean by the curb with bolt sticking up?

Thanks!
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
That is actually the base to a large homemade workbench that was apparently bolted to the floor. It’s water damaged from what we were told was a basement flood years ago because of a sump pump failure prior to the backup system being installed.

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Hammered Thumb
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Don't worry about the window well drains. Those do not collect water from the surrounding grade - only what would make it into the well and would need to have standing water then if there was not a cover.

If you don't have a concrete wall crack starting at the corner of the window (common location), and no occurrence of water entering where the slab meets the wall (usually happens at a corner where downspouts are, not in the middle of a wall run), then my guess from these photos is the water is coming up around the pipes through the floor. Those are galvanized and probably rusted through as well. You didn't specify a rain event or when this occurs, so my second guess is those concrete laundry tubs crack easily and you have a leak.

I would dry it up and then check periodically throughout the day til I find the source.

P.S. those outlets should be GFCI around the sink
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you. I’m starting to suspect those pipes as well. Both times this has happened was after a very heavy rain.

I agree they look in bad shape, but I’m failing to understand what these two pipes in the middle of the area of moisture actually are.

The shorter one is capped off, and the other one tees off a few inches above the basement floor toward and into the sump pit, with the other branch going up into the wall a few feet from the kitchen sink area (not a drain for the kitchen or bathroom - the two separate kitchen sink drains are elsewhere). This part of the wall is even further from the bathroom(s). I tried to show this on a photo below with the yellow being the kitchen sink drains and the main stack pictured further to the right of those, which goes up and into the attic and out the roof in that same general area (might jog to the left slightly to accommodate the second floor toilet, but not far enough to be aligned with the pipe in question).

If they’re coming from (or going to) under the basement floor, could it be related to the floor drains and/or the perimeter drain system?

Maybe some kind of drain or wet venting that is getting overwhelmed and backing up when it rains too hard? If related to the floor drain system I would expect pooling of water around those drains, or the water in the floor drains to be higher up than the 18” down I measured it (sitting at the bottom where the drains go off to the side). But if related to a perimeter drain somehow, I don’t understand why it goes up so high into the wall.

Any guesses to what these mystery pipes are would be greatly appreciated.

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Hammered Thumb
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I don't think those have anything to do with stormwater. The sink looks like it drains into the galvanized, so the galvanized vertical is your vent (maybe wet vent originally). It's probably connected somewhere upstairs or in the attic over to the kitchen roof vent (or maybe the kitchen was moved from original location). The stub I don't know, it's not like galvanized pipe had wye's, so it's probably a cleanout because the line goes over and connects to the floor drains.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
You’re right that the utility sink drains into that galvanized pipe. Maybe it is a tie in to the vent in the kitchen above and just happens to be positioned where it is for who knows what reason.

However, now I’m leaning toward the issue being the grade of the back yard and water pooling. I’m going to clean the floor and pipes and dry it out and soak the area with a garden hose to see if it’s coming in at the base of the basement wall.

I had removed a couple inches of dirt and gravel from the back yard area near the house because I thought it would be better to have the soil line a few inches below the siding to prevent pests (termites etc) from crawling under the siding, but maybe the risk of that is less than the basement water issue.

This photo shows pooling that created another issue with drainage on the property - a lot more moisture in the addition crawlspace.

This was a tornado-producing storm with 2” of rain in one hour…

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
And this is a better view of the grade of the ground outside the basement wall (drops from the sidewalk down the grass and into the gravel/mulch bed, with the sidewalk a few inches higher than the foundation/siding):

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Are you sure water doesn't just run down the inside of the wall. The ledge of the foundation is a good path for that.
 

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If they’re coming from (or going to) under the basement floor, could it be related to the floor drains and/or the perimeter drain system?
If you conclude water is coming in through cracks in the slab and around pipes through slab, then when it rains, your slab is sitting in a lake. In that sense, it is related to your perimeter drain (or lack thereof).
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Are you sure water doesn't just run down the inside of the wall. The ledge of the foundation is a good path for that.
There is displaced mulch up on the siding above the foundation, so I think that’s definitely possible. There was a lot of driving rain and heavy wind directly at this wall for over an hour.
 

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There is displaced mulch up on the siding above the foundation, so I think that’s definitely possible. There was a lot of driving rain and heavy wind directly at this wall for over an hour.
I would spray to top of that concrete and see if it should up inside
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Are you sure water doesn't just run down the inside of the wall. The ledge of the foundation is a good path for that.
If water is running down over the ledge of the foundation, what’s the fix? Is it normal for the ledge to be exposed like that so it can just catch rain water? It seems like it shouldn’t be out past the siding that far.
 

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If water is running down over the ledge of the foundation, what’s the fix? Is it normal for the ledge to be exposed like that so it can just catch rain water? It seems like it shouldn’t be out past the siding that far.
Yes, it should never be like that. The aluminum siding is not so easy to work with so if you fix this you may have to invent a plan.
This video talks about it. We always start with a peel and stick to keep insects out and then a flashing to protect that and hide it.
Siding Problems With Overhanging Concrete Foundations - Building And Repairs - YouTube
 
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