Basement water questions

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We've owned this house (split level) since 1988 and have never had any basement water issue until the Nor'Easter in April when we had 9" of rain. In one area the water was coming in pretty fast, enough to watch it flow in. This was where the basement steps meet the floor.
We corralled the water using water-wicking cloth tubes (QuikWick) and putting a utility pump inside to drain out the water flowing in. (Once every 4 years or so we'd see a teenie puddle of water in a corner but never anything like this.)
Our gutters are good and they drain away from the house. We don't see any cracks and the walls don't have efflorescence that we can see.
Incidentally, most of the neighbors also had problems who had never had problems before as well. (Most neighbors do not have sump pumps/ drains either.)
We called some basement waterproofing companies and their solution is French Drains with a sump pump. We gave one company a deposit for a French Drain system but are now having second thoughts. I'm concerned that adding an interior trench, making weep holes in the cinder block and digging a sump pump ditch will be inviting in water regularly to keep up with when I only had a problem once. The contractor agreed to do it without the weep holes, if we'd prefer it that way. I'm getting concerned about the whole thing. I have already purchased a battery backup sump pump as well.
I'm afraid we're going to be inviting in water that would otherwise not come in and be dependant on the sump system to remove it.
A contractor I had here for another project, (not a basement water contractor), suggested to drill a small opening in the basement floor and see if there's gravel underneath. If there was then there was no need for the trenches and we could just do the sump pump. We tried to drill a hole but the floor is really hard and we couldn't make any progress with the masonry drill bits. If there was gravel under the basement cement floor would the sump pump work without the french drain part?
I'd like to get input from people more familiar with this.
Is this all overkill for a one-time occurrence or is a French Drain system the right plan?
Thanks- Vickie
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an old experienced plumber, a visit to every neighbor with an identical home on soil like yours, a local architect, and a magic 8 ball will all agree: basements are not habitable spaces. in a basement you could provide natural drainage, and electrical drainage, and battery pumped drainage, plus add a city water pressure driven sump pump. see: http://www.buildingscienceconsulting.com/resources/foundations/renovating_your_basement.pdf and then 52 pages at: http://www.buildingscienceconsulting.com/resources/mold/Read_This_Before_You_Design_Build_or_Renovate.pdf
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What gets wet when you get the 4-year puddle? What got wet in the bigger event?
Unless it is something awfully important, I wouldn't go cutting holes in a basement that seems to be functioning fairly well. A little puddle every 4 years and a bigger event when you have huge amount of rain is something you can probably deal with.
KB

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In twenty years, you've never had a problem and this was an unusually bad storm. Personally I'd leave it alone. It sounds like the water was only coming up through the floor and not through the walls, so if anything I'd dig a pit at the location where it came up, and install a sump pump

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FRENCH DRAIN ONLY WAY TO GO!!!
A few years ago with my other home I spent over 8 grand installing a exterior french drain, regrading yard, new downspout lines to daylight, and new sidewalks steps etc all made necessary by the digging. DIY project contractor price twice that:(
guess what water was back within 2 months:(
Look you have had a ongoing water problem, by your own statement, and that storm just made it worse.
When you decide to sell your home you will HAVE to disclose it has a water problem:( buyers hate homes with water, and one never knows when a big storm will reoccur. worse active water flow tends to make future water flow easier.
The interior french drain with weep holes solves all that. the water is there no matter what you do. at least this way its redirected to a safe spot away from your home.
IDEALLY the sump should drain by gravity to daylight well away from your home, but often thats not a option:(
After my 8 grand a summers killer work I had a interior french drain with weep holes installed, for $3500 wish I had tried that first it dried things up great.
dont cheap out on this, its money well spent.
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This one is a tough call. It only happened once in 20 years. So, depending on what's at risk in the basement, the idea of putting in a sump pump pit in the area where the water was coming in, definitely has big cost advantages and might be sufficient. On the other hand, the proposed drain system is a better and more correct solution.
Before I did anything, I'd get outside in the next heavy rain and see what is actually going on. What you think is happening and what really is can be different. For example, I suddenly had water coming in on spot in the basement, which like yours had otherwise been dry. When I looked outside during a heavy rain, I found that the 4" corrogated pipe that I thought was taking water away, was in fact not shoved high enough on the downspout and hence was pouring out right at the foundation.
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Unfortunately water exists in the walls, adding weep holes wouldnt change a THING but redirect the water away from your home.
Even water under the home can lead to high interior summer humidity with possible mold growth.
plus whle you may drill into your floor and find gravel it may not be gravel everywhere, the gravel may have been fill for a low spot duiring home construction since gravel is way cheaper than thicker concrete.
any chance of the system draining to daylight? thats the ideal choice
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During the big rain event, (while the water was coming into the basement) we went all around the house and did not see anything pooling or draining up against the house.
The water was mainly coming in from one area, at the base of the steps which lead down to the basement from the floor above. These stairs are not near any exterior basement wall and we could not really see how the water was getting there.
________________________________________________ I I I I room I (Basement) I one I I level I I I I I<<---- leak area I up I I I I I at base of I I I I I I stairs I I I I I I I __________I_____________________________________I
We didn't have an issue around the edges.
Thanks- Vickie

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On Tue, 29 May 2007 05:37:28 -0700, Vickie wrote:

Maybe you should check for a roof leak. I had one in my last home that revealed itself in the basement before it showed on the first floor. And it never showed on the 2nd floor.
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Hmm, that's a good idea. We did have a roof leaf which was patched a few years ago, but it was leaking in the attic. (This roof is maybe 10 years old.)
I'm going to try and repost my "diagram" of the leaking area, hopefully with a more compatible font.
As I paste it here it looks off already, so my apologies if this looks like garbage once again.
<<<<<<
The water was mainly coming in from one area, at the base of the steps which lead down to the basement from the floor above. These stairs are not near any exterior basement wall and we could not really see how the water was getting there.
_______________________________________________________ I I I room I (Basement) I one I I level I I I I I<<---- leak area I up I I I I I at base of I I I I I I stairs I I I I I I I _______________________________________________________I
We didn't have an issue around the edges.
Thanks- Vickie

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Doesn't look like my response made it. Trying again...
During the big rain event, (while the water was coming into the basement) we went all around the
house and did not see anything pooling or draining up against the house.
The water was mainly coming in from one area, at the base of the steps which lead down to the
basement from the floor above. These stairs are not near any exterior basement wall and we
could not really see how the water was getting there.
________________________________________________________ I I I I room I (Basement) I one I I level I I I I I<<---- leak area I up I I I I I at base of I I I I I I stairs I I I I I I I ___________I____________________________________________I
We didn't have an issue around the edges.
Thanks- Vickie

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Wow, that looked a whole lot better before it posted. Basically the stairs land at the left edge of the basement, but this side is not near the outside of the house, rather more in the middle of the house. The other three walls are border outside. The water was coming in around the floor at the corner of the bottom step. There are no cracks there so it must have migrated from another area we can't see.
Vickie

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On Tue, 29 May 2007 06:09:01 -0700, Vickie wrote:

That never works with TrueType fonts. You need a regular font, usually the 'system' font. not sure how to set that for a newsgroup post though.
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Probably water coming up from UNDER floor, there are likely anchors of the steps in the concrete, or a crack and water follows the easiest path.
I had that in my old houseduring rain the water table would raise.
Having been down this road before I would spend trhe bucks and install the entire system, it can do NO HARM! and the dry basement warranty is a plus at hoime sale time:)
Other than cost do you have anything else you dislike about a iunterior french drain?
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I'm not as concerned of the cost. We've only had water in the basement that one time. (An occassional small puddle in the corner every 4 years or so was the only other water.) I've had a few people, including contractors, say to not get weep holes. Others say to get them. The idea of them scares me.
Since the water was an issue one time I'm worried that once we dig down to install trenches and a sump pump we're creating a easy means of allowing water in, which will now need to be pumped out. It seems that instead of dealing with water once in a blue moon, as it is now, we could have a big water problem once all these things are dug if we have a pump failure. (We bought a battery backup, but still...)
We are also waiting for our radon test results to come in. We live in northern NJ, which has a higher radon level. I don't want any open areas, so even if we get this whole system I'd want it closed.
Thank you- Vickie

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picture your basement like a bath tub sitting in the ground. water is all around your basement, you cant change that.
but you certinally dont want water IN your basement, or around the walls, since moisture can wick into your home causing not just puddles but high humidity. high humidity can lead to mold growth even in places you cant see. mold is very unheathy and hard to fix. the first move is keep the place dry.
now the interior french drain with weep holes is the only way to fix this once and for all.
as is if water collects in any of the interior cavaties of the concrete block either thru absorbtion or a open joint, it will try to enter your interior space. wet wall, water puddling along crack at bottom, things like that.
now with weep holes it has a way out, and enters the french drain and finally the sump pump.
Is anywhere on your property lower than your basement floor? ideally the sump should drain by gravity to daylight. no pump necessary. might require some digging, this home is getting one ran to the curb which is conveniently lower than the basement.
however millions of pump systems are installed yearly and work fine. In many areas building codes REQUIRE this system on every new home. Its not destructive at all! Its REQUIRED because a wet basement can do so much damage well beyond a puddle on the floor.
At home resale time disclosing wet basement will either kill sale, or you will be required to spend the bucks and have it fixed, exactly what your thinking of doing now..... but inflation will likely make it more costly:(
If you dont disclose it when the new owner gets water in,, if anyone says oh that happened before INSTANT lawsuit:(
A neighbor of mine failed to disclose tree roots in sewer line, new owner had troubles old owner paid for new line, new wall, line was under a large retaining wall, new driveway and lawn restoration. Just told the other day it cost old owner 15 grand including lawyer fees.
As to radon its a problem in my neighborhood too. With the interior french drain they just cement a PVC line into the drain system and pull vacuumn against the entire system. This keeps the radon out.
Again its there you cant prevent it from being in your ground just redirect radon to a safe place thats not inside.
The edge of the system around the floor will need sealed, just a lot of caulking. no biggie.
There are no downsides to the system.
Again I have been thru all of this, as the owner of a wet basement. I finally fixed it right, which oddly enough was cheaper than the other things I had tried.
I have NO connection to any company and am just trying to explain as best I can whats up.
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wrote:

I was under the impression the owner had to disclose REPAIRS to solve a wet basement, but not necessarily disclose the wet basement itself.
For example, in my house the owner installed their own sump pump. But we quickly found out it's not good enough; in heavy rains we get water in the basement. He claimed in passing they once had water problems and got them fixed. But I don't think this was ever officially disclosed.
Can I go after him to pay for a proper drainage system? How can we prove that he knew about the problem, and that it's not something new that occurred since we bought the house (5 years ago)?
If it's a matter of getting neighbors to rat on him, there's no chance of that, since he was a very popular guy around here...
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no the seller MUST DISCLOSE ANY PROBLEM, and what was done to fix it.
whats the cost to install a proper drain system? obviously the sump wasnt enough.
check with a local lawyer.
when I sold a home a few years ago I was warned no disclose I was on the hook for all repairs the new owner needed if the problem had EVER been a issue in the past.
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wrote:

It makes sense, but how can they prove it?
If you simply say "we never had that problem before" what can they do?
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Yep - that's the sticky wicket. Burden of proof is on the accuser (and would you have it any other way?)
People say - one can get a previous owner to pay that's terrible just terrible make them pay get a lawyer they should have disclosed (concerning water problems and any number of other problems).
What the lawyer will go through with one is not only the points of the law, but what can be shown in court. The conclusion often is not be the satisfying and lucrative one that people seem to envision when they give this advice.
I had water problems - there was evidence of previous water problems in the house, but no way to show proof that the current sump pump and cove system on one side of the basement to address that, didn't fix it. Basement was mostly finished and in apparent active use. Water was coming in the *other* side - the side with no efflorescence, etc., to show previous problems. So - how do I prove it wasn't a change since I moved in? Get neighbors to turn the previous owner in? But they only moved one county away, and still keep friendships going. And I have to live next to them, pushing too far might give me another set of problems.
So, in practicality, it's buyer beware + fix the problems you do find.
Banty
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