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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We have this beautiful home, on beautiful land, however, this year the nightmare began. The drainage water from melting snow compounded the problem that started with last summers flooding and terrential rains in central Iowa.

The run off has literally washed out the ground around the foundation. Water is now seeping into the basement from under the foundation as well as through the walls.

Is there any way to keep this from washing out in the future? I've decided maybe this home isn't worth keeping so am dreaming of most inexpensive way to hold temporarily? Is there really such a thing?

I uploaded some photos also to give everyone an idea of the extent of damage done as well as terrain of land surrounding the problem. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!!! Thanks!!
 

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We have this beautiful home, on beautiful land, however, this year the nightmare began. The drainage water from melting snow compounded the problem that started with last summers flooding and terrential rains in central Iowa.

The run off has literally washed out the ground around the foundation. Water is now seeping into the basement from under the foundation as well as through the walls.

Is there any way to keep this from washing out in the future? I've decided maybe this home isn't worth keeping so am dreaming of most inexpensive way to hold temporarily? Is there really such a thing?

I uploaded some photos also to give everyone an idea of the extent of damage done as well as terrain of land surrounding the problem. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!!! Thanks!!

There is usually no simple solution to drainage problems, but, it looks to me like you need to build a retaining wall to hold that dirt back at that corner of the house.

Behind the retaining wall should be plenty of gravel with corrugated piping in the bottom to channel the water away from the house.
 

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Ayuh,... The Easiest,+ permanent Fix would take a couple of hours with a Bulldozer...

The swale above the house by the big tree needs to be slightly deepened,+ the house side raised slightly...
If that were continued out past the little green tree,...
The water would by-pass the house, All together...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ayuh,... The Easiest,+ permanent Fix would take a couple of hours with a Bulldozer...

The swale above the house by the big tree needs to be slightly deepened,+ the house side raised slightly...
If that were continued out past the little green tree,...
The water would by-pass the house, All together...


Please forgive my stupidity, but swale...is that the apparent dip between the big tree and the house? I'd never noticed that before. Getting a bulldozer in there maybe a problem due to sewage tiles are located on the front side of the house on that corner and maybe too heavy?

We have now been told by two landscapers and the neighbors that the house most likely should have never been built. The property is also an old strip mine. We're trying to stay away from the cost of a retaining wall but are coming to the conclusion that may be the only option.

Is there a way to do such a project with minimal expense? Are there certain materials anyone can suggest to keep the cost down?
 

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Please forgive my stupidity, but swale...is that the apparent dip between the big tree and the house? I'd never noticed that before
Even though I'm from Georgia, the first time I heard of a swale, I thought someone had a worse accent/drawl than mine. Think "swell" with a drawl.:laughing:

A swale is just basically a ditch for directing drainage. Note- basically. Just enough of a depression to pull the water and still shallow enough that you can still go over it with a mower, etc. You wouldn't really need a bulldozer. It would be nice, but a tractor with a grading blade could accomplish the job with less intrustion on the lawn.

Or, fill that washed area next to the foundation and while you're at it, add a slight berm (raised area, opposite of swale) out to that little cedar (?) and plant it with some shrubs. I understand that you are trying to do this on a budget.

This would be my choice mainly because:
Some plant material would be really useful there;
The bottom line is that you want the ground to slope away from the house and it doesn't matter to the water whether it goes into a swale or just downhill from the house with the elevated soil;
Roots from the plants would hold the soil and help prevent this in the future.

A nice groundcover would serve the purpose, or some shrubs underplanted with groundcover.
 

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Please forgive my stupidity, but swale...is that the apparent dip between the big tree and the house? I'd never noticed that before. Getting a bulldozer in there maybe a problem due to sewage tiles are located on the front side of the house on that corner and maybe too heavy?

We have now been told by two landscapers and the neighbors that the house most likely should have never been built. The property is also an old strip mine. We're trying to stay away from the cost of a retaining wall but are coming to the conclusion that may be the only option.

Is there a way to do such a project with minimal expense? Are there certain materials anyone can suggest to keep the cost down?
To keep costs down for a retaining wall, use 6x6 PT lumber vice stone. If you do this, because of the height of your wall, it'll probably have to be tiered.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Do I find a sense of satisfaction finding humor in my turmoil??!! HA!! You know, considering I have NO design/landscape backround nor ambition to acquire such, I guess I never thought much about the dumb tree nor the fact that it does look a little, um, forlorn. Oh well... Lessons learned from impulse buying at an auction...For REAL!! Love the house, but probably should have done a little homework before out bidding the competition that day... Hmmm...

Thanks to everyone who threw in some ideas...I will keep you posted...Also if anyone comes up with any other thoughts, please don't hesitate to throw your two cents in....I'd love to hear any ideas!!
 

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Do I find a sense of satisfaction finding humor in my turmoil??!! HA!! You know, considering I have NO design/landscape backround nor ambition to acquire such, I guess I never thought much about the dumb tree nor the fact that it does look a little, um, forlorn. Oh well... Lessons learned from impulse buying at an auction...For REAL!! Love the house, but probably should have done a little homework before out bidding the competition that day... Hmmm...

Thanks to everyone who threw in some ideas...I will keep you posted...Also if anyone comes up with any other thoughts, please don't hesitate to throw your two cents in....I'd love to hear any ideas!!
No satisfaction here from your predicament.

Know this though....sometimes, you have to laugh, otherwise, you'd cry, especially when it comes to home ownership.

Before, I've always wondered why people retire to Florida, Arizona, etc to a condo after living in a SFH with land all their life. I don't wonder so much anymore.
 

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You know, considering I have NO design/landscape backround nor ambition to acquire such, I guess I never thought much about the dumb tree
Ayuh,... I'm no landscape designer by any means,... I think the only thing you need to look at is,..
Water flows Downhill...

You need a grading contractor to fix your lot drainage....
All your pictures after the 1st are of the Results, not the Problem...
Looking at the 1st picture,...
You need to drain the sidehill on the left, either around the back of the house, or more likely by swaling it to drain to preferably as far to the left of the picture as Possible...
It appears that that bit of swale now daylights, right behind the little tree...

While that's being done,...
Look at the upper part of the yard near the house,...
That grade drops to the house from right above the little tree as far as can be seen,...
That's a large area to drain, especially when 1/2 of the house roof also drains there...
That's what's causing the massive erosion at that corner of the foundation...

You need the land to fall away from the house for 15' or more, to a swale to carry the water around the house....

It could be done in a few hours with a dozer,+ the material that's on site,..
Or,..
You could put a small wingwall retaining wall coming off the left corner of the foundation, towards the photographer...
That would allow lesser drops in the grades,+ daylighting the swale as far to the left as possible...
The erosion will stop,+ you can grow grass in that corner, once you divert the flows.. ;)
 

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Looking at the pictures, the problem might be more complex than just a "swale" fix. :( You have a fair amount of sloping terrain which "dead-ends" towards the home. You would be surprised as to the volume of water that is heading towards your home and that foundational wall.

I am also VERY TROUBLED by the last picture. When you look closely, you can see that the bricks on one side DO NOT match the brick line on the adjoining wall. This is SERIOUSLY BAD. The wall appears to have already dropped/shifted away from its original spot. In other words, the wall has already failed, and it can and only will get worse from here.

Did you have a home inspection done before you bought the home?
If so, the inspector should have spotted this on his/her report.

Many times people don't realize that not only is the above ground (what is visible) water headed towards the home but you can have underground "streams" that travel towards the home. These "streams" are usually only active in rains but have been noted to even flow days or even weeks after rains have stopped.

I would call an expert and have them evaluate the area:
1 - Do soil samples (what type of soil do you have, how saturated is it, what is the percolation/drain qualities)
2 - check for underwater streams and flow (they use high-end equipment and sensors that can show if and how much water is flowing underneath the ground)
3- excavate and head off the flow of water using French Drains and or other methods to divert the water AWAY from the home
4- inspect the wall for how much damage it has. It may already be compromised to the point that it might need to be repaired.

Once again, judging from the pictures, there is a large amount of sloped area. I would state with 95% confidence that you have an underground water flow source/stream that is flowing into the home.

This issue MUST BE ADDRESSED ASAP. Eventually the wall that is leaking can and will be compromised and can actually fail. Water is a tremendous force. It can & does move mountains. That wall is no match, they are not designed to hold back heavy flows of water, it will fail and collapse.

I've seen it happen first hand. The wall collapsed INTO the basement. You DO NOT want to wait until that happens.
 

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I am also VERY TROUBLED by the last picture. When you look closely, you can see that the bricks on one side DO NOT match the brick line on the adjoining wall. This is SERIOUSLY BAD. The wall appears to have already dropped/shifted away from its original spot. In other words, the wall has already failed, and it can and only will get worse from here.
I don't think I would get too worked up over that...it's just the form design that doesn't line up..I really doubt there's anything structural with the offset...
 

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I don't think I would get too worked up over that...it's just the form design that doesn't line up..I really doubt there's anything structural with the offset...
I agree 100%. That corner hasn't & wont move anytime soon. Note the tar damproofing still lines up. Ask around & find the names of a few excavators to look at it for you. You have plenty of room to raise the grade at the house to divert water. They could probably also get a french drain in below ground level at the exposure & set some boulders for retention on the left corner of the foundation to help with erosion. And they could probably do all the work for less than you would pay a real estate agent in commission. Good Luck!
 

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Right now in the pictures the grade (slope of the ground) from the far edge of the deck appears to slope towards the house. This just funnels all the water right against the foundation where it then runs along and causes the washout at the end. the water is also working its way down/thru the foundation wall to the footer and then into your basement.

You need to slope the ground away from the house. With the deck and what apears to be a hot tub already in place this could pose a challenge.

As said previously the washout and water coming through are results not the problem.

You need to channel the surface water away from the house. When it rains on a slope like you have behind the house the water will usually come down faster than the gound can absorb it and it will beging to flow down the hill, right towards your house. Yes, as previously said there could be a mysterious underground water flow but indications are that you are dealing with a surface water runoff issue.

The first correction steps is going to be to regrade the land on the hillside to divert the surface water coming down off the hill away from your foundation. Click here for a couple of nice little graphics that illustrate what a swale is and what it does.
http://acehomeinspec.com/images/Swales2.jpg
http://web.utk.edu/~btschant/3fig1.jpg

This is going to involve some machinery to do the job properly.

The very least expensive option is to back fill as much as possible up against the house so the slope is away from the foundation. You can do this with a shovel, rake, wheel barrow and lots of hard work. This will remove the nice little river channel that is developing against your foundation right now and hopefully will be enough of a grade to get the water to flow out towards the yard and not the house. You are going to have to do this evenly accros the back side of the house, even under the deck, or you will just create a pool that will hold water while it soaks down into your foundation.

Start with that and you should get some pretty good results. Then, if necessary, you can decide to address further later.
 

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I agree 100%. That corner hasn't & wont move anytime soon. Note the tar damproofing still lines up. Ask around & find the names of a few excavators to look at it for you. You have plenty of room to raise the grade at the house to divert water. They could probably also get a french drain in below ground level at the exposure & set some boulders for retention on the left corner of the foundation to help with erosion. And they could probably do all the work for less than you would pay a real estate agent in commission. Good Luck!
If it did not fail, then that is some sloppy masonry work. Any mason worth his 2cents would NOT allow such work like that. Even when you lay tile (floor or wall), you drop a chalk like and the grout line needs to stay even, if it doesn't, it will come out looking like garbage, you will be off center and your tile work will be completely off.

I would call an expert and have them evaluate the area:
1 - Do soil samples (what type of soil do you have, how saturated is it, what is the percolation/drain qualities)
2 - check for underwater streams and flow (they use high-end equipment and sensors that can show if and how much water is flowing underneath the ground)
3- excavate and head off the flow of water using French Drains and or other methods to divert the water AWAY from the home
4- inspect the wall for how much damage it has. It may already be compromised to the point that it might need to be repaired.


I believe the issue is serious. As you already stated that water is entering the home from BELOW the slab and from the wall itself. This cannot be reiterated enough. Those walls are not designed and cannot hold back large amounts of water volume pushing against them. You have a large amount of sloping terrain against that wall. I believe the amount of water volume is MUCH, MUCH MORE than what you think. Look at the hill in PIC#1, the amount of slope, the amount of volume, the amount of height of the peak of the hill to where the wall sits, this can carry huge amounts of water.


This will be the end result, guaranteed:

 

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First of all, that tar line is NOT EVEN. Look at it, it is VERY CLEAR that towards the right, it is sloping downward.

Look at the grout line on the bricks. It clearly is not even.
Look at the wood siding. On the left, the siding sits much lower than it does on the right side.

Either this is REALLY, REALLY, sloppy construction work or the wall/foundation is already experienced some damage/failure.

On a side note, that wood siding needs to be addressed ASAP also. It needs to be inspected and treated/replaced/painted/stained. Just from the pics, it's clear that it is rotting and severely weathered. The bottom left plank already pulled away from the home and needs to be removed and replaced. Your plywood sheathing underneath is now getting exposed to the elements. That can and will rot, causing water to get inside your walls/drywall.

I can even tell that the furthest right plank has already been replaced recently. Look at the weathering. It is clearly NOT the same age as the other siding. The piece right above is gray and weathered, while the piece below is not.

I REALLY, REALLY think you need to call a home inspector and get this home PROFESSIONALLY and THOROUGHLY inspected. Just from the pictures, I can tell that there is a lot of damage already. In person, I bet there will be even more problems and issues.
 

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Jack of all trades:

You need to understand something. A mason didn't build this wall. It is a POURED CONCRETE wall that was formed with an aluminum brick panel form!

Few things I noticed that make me feel confident in my last statement:
- It's only a 7 foot high wall with approx. 3 feet of unbalanced fill.
- It appears the floor joists would run perpendicular to the wall in question, giving it optimium strength.
- I also assume there is a jump in the footing 3 feet back from the corner, leading to the mis-alignment of the brick pattern.
- In 20+ years in the concrete/masonry indus., I've never seen a foundation wall fall in over night, days, weeks, even months from wet backfill. The failure you show of a block foundation was more than likely ignored for years, if not decades, or was from driving something way too heavy way to close to that wall.

I live in an area with heavy clays, alot of inferior block foundations from the 60's + 70's, and a good amount of yearly precip. I bid/troubleshoot/repair these problems regularily. I hate meeting HO's that are scared their walls are going to fall over because someone with 0 experience told them so.

Sorry to sound like a jerk, but this is not worth over-worrying the OP over.
 

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First of all, that tar line is NOT EVEN. Look at it, it is VERY CLEAR that towards the right, it is sloping downward.

This tar was likely sprayed on with a low pressure sprayer designed for damproofing. Think pressure washer wand with lower pressure & thick material spraying out of it. It isn't easy to spray perfectly straight, & doesn't matter, as it intended to be functional only, not astetic.
 
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