Damp Foundation

I have a 3 year old brick home with block foundation. The foundation is also grouted with concrete and rebar. On the front of the house, approximately in the center (under the stoop and front door), there is a 6-8ft section of the foundation that is persistently damp. The dampness never disappears, but it does get worse when it rains--even a small rainfall will soak the wall.
The builder has tried sealing the brick and thrice tried sealing the block on the inside, but with no effect. Now, the builder's proposal is to coat the inside of the block with Thoroseal concrete top coat. Aside from the fact that just covering the 6-8ft section will make the entire wall look bad (part of it is in the integral garage and would never be finished), I'm not convinced that this is anything more than a band-aid. However, the builder is telling me that he doesn't know what else to do.
Does anyone have any ideas, or comments on the builder's proposed solution?
Thanks, JKG
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As always, the first thing to do is get water away from the building.
Do have a valley on each side of the porch dumping water in the nice flower bed and tree planting on each side of the porch? You will never win unless you get the water well away from the building.
You are correct that anything on the interior is a Band-Aid. The solution is on the outside. French drain? Water proof/damp proof? With what?
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wrote:

The grade is away from the building, so no problem there.

Basically, it looks like a Tuff-N-Dri clone: a spray-on rubber membrane with foam attached over top. There is an exterior french drain.
My only other thought is that the weep holes on the brick are probably below grade. They're certainly below the landscape mulch bed, and may even be below the underlying soil. I'm not sure how I would solve this problem, as I can't very easily change the grade of the lot.
JKG
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Stop water from getting into the wall, not before it leaves the wall. You're contractor doesn't want to hear this because it means digging a hole. Too bad. That's what needs to be done. DanG's bang on target.
Is the french drain there from the start? Is it adjacent? Why is it there? Does the topography betray the existence of an natural waterway in the area that might now be underground?
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MichaelB
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Hey metaphorical neighbor - I recently endured the mother-load of moisture problems with our cursed house, and have finally resolved the problems. Fortunately for you and your builder (friend?), moisture problems can be handled in sequenced progression in order of difficulty/disruption. 1. Collect water from your roof with gutters, and dump it out well away from the foundation, preferably flowing to an area below slab level, or your neighbor's koi pond. Otherwise, the outflow may just pool below ground and come right back to your foundation. 2. Slope soil adjacent to foundation ~ 5% for ~ 5' out, preferably further. 3. Next step is unpleasant. You can either do an interior sump-pump approach, or an exterior excavation. a. I went with an exterior approach because, like you, we only had a problem with one wall, and I don't like interior sump-pumps because I don't want a mold factory in my basement. If you are fortunate, like me, you can install a weep pipe encased in a soil-fabric sock at slab level to daylight. Remember to slope pipe ~2% to assist particulate flow, and backfill with course gravel/sand. If you can't reach daylight at slab level, then you have a bit more excavation on your hands - either dump weep pipe into exterior sump-pump tank, or likely in your case, a dry-well would suffice based on your problem being one of dampness, not water flow. You could make the judgement which way to go based on how much water is flowing from the weep pipe exit. Depending on site particulars and personal exercise regimen, this can be done by hand in a day or two, or a few hours with a back- hoe. b. Or, install an interior sump-pump, starting simple with just a collection tank rig, and expanding horizontally along the wall edge as required to resolve problem.
Before going hog wild here, you should also resolve the weep hole issue. I suppose it's possible the exterior water shield is working, but moisture behind the brick is somehow making its way behind the scenes and showing up in your basement. If this is the case, then the steps I recommended won't do much other than cost someone money and work up a sweat. I suspect the fix in this situation is a lot easier than installing a slab-level weep pipe.
- Good luck and good day, Bob Stanley - Handy Man
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