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Clogged perimeter drain or no groundwater?

1394 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  oh'mike
Hello! This is my first post on this site so here it goes.

I live in a raised ranch just outside of O'Hare airport in Chicago. The house was built along with half of the subdivision in late 1956 - early 1957. Before that, all of the land around here was used for farms. My house has a perimeter drain with an outlet in a concrete lined sump pit in the basement. However, in the 20+ years I've lived in this house, I've never seen a drop of water enter the sump pit from the perimeter drain, even during the heaviest of rains.

I was simply wondering if this is an issue or not? Other neighbors on the block (all of them in houses that were constructed at the same time, obviously) also say that they never get water coming out of their perimeter drains. Almost everyone in this neighborhood - myself included - has fully finished basements with bathrooms, etc. The only time people get water in their basements around here is either from sewage backflow or foundation wall cracks - never hydrostatic pressure from the floor or anything along the lines of that. Perhaps the ground in this area is too dry to facilitate the need for foundation drains anymore? Or maybe the drain was installed when the house was constructed just for good measure?

At least I'm getting my moneys worth out of my sump pump... my HVAC condensate/humidifier as well as a floor drain are the only things that put water into the pit. Unfortunately, many neighbors have non-working 50+ year old pumps because they don't see the need to replace them if they're not used. I actually just installed a new Wayne primary/backup combo just in case our backflow protection ever fails like it did a few years ago. Frankly, if I HAD to get water in my finished basement, I'd much prefer that it comes from a perimeter drain than from the bathtub, sinks, and toilet...
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Basements are indeed a bathtub waiting for a leak so keeping the sump pump in order is a good idea.

As for Chicago, on a business trip there back in the early 70's my co-worker was from that area and mentioned that the homes being built were covering some of the most beautiful farm land America has/had. He said the rich black top soil is 40' to 80' deep under many homes. If my memory and his statements are anywhere near correct, and they do correspond with your post, you just have excellent drainage through that soil.

As for the soil being dry, far from it, as moisture levels where (I'll steal a phrase) the grass is green have to be high. Although that isn't necessarily fluid water it can pass right through your foundation in the form of moisture vapor and in some situations condense back to being water behind your walls. Since you talk to your neighbors and it doesn't sound like anyone is having mold issues you are probably golden. But still try to follow modern guidelines for mold prevention as we have learned much since the 50's.

Direct all surface water well away to help that soil out as much as possible.

Plant a garden and enjoy.
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