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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The house I am renovating has been plagued by a wet basement for what I guess would be 30 years. We did a basement clean out when my aunt was moved into assisted living and nothing had been touched in all that time. So now I have an idea of whats going on but need guidance in how to approach fixing it.

The first steps I took were to remove a sidewalk that was pitched toward the foundation and grade the soil to get a good slope away. In the back of the house I was lucky to get a bunch of clay from my neighbor that was excavated for a concrete driveway. I packed that around the foundation and gave it a slope.

On one side of my house the neighbor has an asphalt driveway that pitches water onto my property. The current owner bought the house like this and the driveway has been there since I bought my house. I imagine it is a code violation but it's kind of an awkward situation to go after the current owner considering they didn't have the work done. I'm also not exactly a confrontational person and it would probably make living here an even hotter hell. My property is not wide enough to pitch the ground back towards their driveway and the dirt would loose the battle with asphalt anyway. I'm thinking that short of suing my neighbor to change the driveway or manage the runoff, I have to put in a french drain and catch the surface water. Any opinion on this matter?

The main issue is at the back of the house where they added an extension onto the house where there was originally a back porch. This work was probably done in the 60's and it was very unprofessional. They excavated behind the original foundation and now there is a about a 2"-3" step-up onto the concrete floor when you walk through the "doorway" into this added on basement.The block walls of this amateur addition also weep nearly all year long. This section of the house is exposed on one wall to the side with the asphalt drive.

There is no eave on the roof of this addition. I thought that when I frame a new roof on the addition that the eave could help dry out the basement by keeping direct rain a foot off the ground against the foundation. Can anyone tell me how significant a difference an eave would make?

I got this house cheap and I intended to take care of the repairs myself. This job however is a first for me and if my ground slope and eave solution isn't effective, I'd like advice on the next step. I've heard other people talk about basement water management problems and the costs are enough to cover what I paid for this place. Does anyone have experience with this sort of dilemma?

So where do I go from fixing the grade and putting and eave on the roof? Start at the surface and put in a french drain? Dig deep and seal the whole thing? I'm including pictures so you can get a better idea of this problem.

I took a sneaky shot of my neighbors drive and you can't see where the big problem is. Where the drive expands to meet the garage it is only about four feet off my foundation.

Sorry if this is long winded or confusing. Thanks for any advice.
 

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retired framer
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The best is to dig up the outside and water proof the outside of the foundation.

Second best is managing inside where you break up the floor and drill the block wall to keep it drained and pump the water out.

Putting surface drainage around the house may help you can also put sheet poly around the house like a skirt under ground but if the ground water is high enough not much at the surface will help.



You could just dig a hole in the back yard and see where the water level is away from the house. Leave it covered and check where the water level is after a rain.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I happen to have a hole in the yard and the water is filled to about 18 inches below the surface. I dont really understand how groundwater works. Is this just water that is held by the soil particles? I'm up on a hill. The soil is very water logged here and the back yard is a swamp. Does this count as ground water or surface water? So if I get an excavator and coat the wall does it require installing drainage on the outside of the footer?
 

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retired framer
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I happen to have a hole in the yard and the water is filled to about 18 inches below the surface. I dont really understand how groundwater works. Is this just water that is held by the soil particles? I'm up on a hill. The soil is very water logged here and the back yard is a swamp. Does this count as ground water or surface water? So if I get an excavator and coat the wall does it require installing drainage on the outside of the footer?
I am sure someone will give us the definition of types of water,:wink2: but if water on the surface sinks into the ground I guess that becomes ground water. And it does not find level like we would think. It all depends on how the water travels thru the soil.

If the rest of the basement does not have any water leaks perhaps you have a drain there already. Does the city have a storm sewer at the street?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Haha yeah the "types" of water. 🙂 There is a shallow drain pipe for the gutters that runs under the sidewalk and drains into the gutter. The back of the house has a cast iron drain that I'm not sure about. I discovered when digging a post hole. I threw a spud bar into it and hear a gurgling sound... I don't know if they added it with the addition they put on or what. The call before you dig people didn't know about it. I think it was just for the downspout.
 

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So if I get an excavator and coat the wall does it require installing drainage on the outside of the footer?
That would be the best way.

All the water diversion you are doing is good, and necessary. Putting waterproofing on the outside wall is good also. But also you need to move the water away from the foundation --- perimeter drain and sump pump. Otherwise, when you get an inch or two in 24 hours, its like having your foundation sit in a big swimming pool of water. They say "water always wins".

Or, manage water intrusion from the inside.
 

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retired framer
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Haha yeah the "types" of water. 🙂 There is a shallow drain pipe for the gutters that runs under the sidewalk and drains into the gutter. The back of the house has a cast iron drain that I'm not sure about. I discovered when digging a post hole. I threw a spud bar into it and hear a gurgling sound... I don't know if they added it with the addition they put on or what. The call before you dig people didn't know about it. I think it was just for the downspout.
The problem with a drain inside or outside or just around the house, you need a place for the water to go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My intuition makes me feel like allowing the water to continually contact and seep through the block wall would degrade the mortar over time. My preference would be to keep the water outside. Does that mean I would have a drain tile around the outside footer and a sump container that much deeper than the footer? How do you access your pump and run power to it? It has to open above ground? My thought on the asphalt driveway side is that a french drain could collect the water before it gets deep enough to cause an issue further down the foundation. It all seems simple in theory, but actually excavating and installing a system like this seems like a colossal mess. I imagine paying someone for this would be around $10k.
 

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My intuition makes me feel like allowing the water to continually contact and seep through the block wall would degrade the mortar over time. My preference would be to keep the water outside. Does that mean I would have a drain tile around the outside footer and a sump container that much deeper than the footer? How do you access your pump and run power to it? It has to open above ground? My thought on the asphalt driveway side is that a french drain could collect the water before it gets deep enough to cause an issue further down the foundation. It all seems simple in theory, but actually excavating and installing a system like this seems like a colossal mess. I imagine paying someone for this would be around $10k.
Does the basement dry up when it is not raining?
 

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retired framer
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Its more of a seasonal thing. It eventually dries up in the summer. I'm in Cincinnati and it seems like we get a good amount of rain here from late fall through spring.
The cities here have a separate drain system for storm water. I am not sure what you can do if the ground can or won't absorb the water.
 

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Water must not pool up around the foundation. It may be necessary to regrade the land even if it results in a ditch at the property line on your side and near the neighbor's driveway. Such a ditch may be equipped with a perforated drain pipe and become the degenerate form of a French drain, may be almost filled with gravel to keep persons from tripping and falling in, and is similar to certain surface drainage systems in France coincidentally sometimes called French drains. Regardless of how it is constructed, it could be called a French drain only if it never overflows which means most of the water must ultimately flow or be pumped someplace else.

Do not have a depression around the foundation filled with gravel or mulch. Fill up dirt with a comparable consistency as the yard to achieve the needed slope away from the house.

How long ago did y ou buy your house?

It is your choice whether to put a perimeter French drain just inside the foundation or just outside the foundation, in either case below basement floor level. The inside choice is almost always easier to accomplish. The outside choice functions a bit better. Both choices require a sump pump unless the water can drain downhill out of the house and also eventually reach daylight (because the surface land sloped even more).
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for all the info so far. I bought the house 6 years ago. It was a family deal. So if I understand correctly, if my storm and sewer are separate, it would be illegal for me to route this ground water through indoor plumbing to the street? Would this be bad for practical reasons as well? The 4 family next to me had water and foundation issues. The contractor drilled a series of holes at the base of the foundation and ran gas line with a filter sock through these holes to the outside. The floor was saw cut around the perimeter. The tubes were sunk into gravel around the perimeter and I guess it led to a sump pit. Does this sound typical or like a hack job? The guy was really rough and sketchy. Prolly meth. Can you explain the typical indoor french drain/ sump pump procedure?
 

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If there's a gap between your neighbor's driveway and your house, build a diversion berm or a curb, depending what's there and how much space there is. That is, if doing to would cause water to drain to the street and not some other place worse for you.
 

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retired framer
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Thanks for all the info so far. I bought the house 6 years ago. It was a family deal. So if I understand correctly, if my storm and sewer are separate, it would be illegal for me to route this ground water through indoor plumbing to the street? Would this be bad for practical reasons as well? The 4 family next to me had water and foundation issues. The contractor drilled a series of holes at the base of the foundation and ran gas line with a filter sock through these holes to the outside. The floor was saw cut around the perimeter. The tubes were sunk into gravel around the perimeter and I guess it led to a sump pit. Does this sound typical or like a hack job? The guy was really rough and sketchy. Prolly meth. Can you explain the typical indoor french drain/ sump pump procedure?
Inside is something like you describe, the blocks are full of water so they drill drain holes so water can just drain to under the floor to a sump and be pumped out. But first you have to find a place to pump the water to.

Some places have a combined sewer and some places it would buy you a world of trouble. So talking to the city about the problem would be a good start.
 

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The driveway is likely sloped towards the street. Yes ? So rainwater naturally flows down the driveway rather than into the ground, at least along the driveway. If you are not seeing particular issues on that wall, a few tubes of urethane caulk at the wall/driveway junction should take care of your outside work along that wall.
 

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The typical perimeter French drain aka weeping tile system has one typically 3 or 4 inch pipe all the way around the perimeter lying beside the foundation footings. There is just one 4 inch hole in the foundation to the outside or, more commonly, a sump pump pit in the basement.

A series of holes in the foundation a few inches below floor level could also protect the basement floor but most likely the holes would have to be no more than three feet apart. The bed of gravel on the outside would let the water dissipate but must not be allowed to accumulate water to the level of the basement floor minus a few inches which usually means a pit and sump pump are still needed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Thanks for the description AllanJ.

The driveway is my neighbors and doesn't butt up to my foundation so there is nothing to caulk. I have no driveway next to my house. I suppose that once you have an excavator the work wouldn't be so overwhelming but still a mess. My concern would be destabilizing the foundation by removing the earth next to it. I'm hoping that after the clay settles around the back portion of the house the water will be more likely to run away from the foundation. Maybe wishful thinking but I really don't feel like excavating or cutting concrete or drilling through block. None of it sounds fun. HAHA.
 

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Thanks for the description AllanJ.

The driveway is my neighbors and doesn't butt up to my foundation so there is nothing to caulk. I have no driveway next to my house. I suppose that once you have an excavator the work wouldn't be so overwhelming but still a mess. My concern would be destabilizing the foundation by removing the earth next to it. I'm hoping that after the clay settles around the back portion of the house the water will be more likely to run away from the foundation. Maybe wishful thinking but I really don't feel like excavating or cutting concrete or drilling through block. None of it sounds fun. HAHA.
This will give you an idea of doing the outside by a typical homeowner trying ti figure it out as he goes.

 
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