sealing chimney base


I've posted about this ongoing issue in the past about my chimney leaking. It's an all brick chimney (including the part that goes underground), on the side of the house, and as far as I know the original from the 50's. The base of the chimney (the ash clean-out) is about 2 feet below ground. During really heavy rains (say 2-3 inches in a day), the base of the chimney takes on water and begins to fill up. Once the water reaches about 1 foot deep it spills through the clean out doors into our basement. In troubleshooting this issue we've had the chimney capped, bricks sealed (ChimneySaver), and flashing redone. I also dug out around the base of the chimney (to the slab it rests on) and did two coats of foundation sealer and wrapped it in plastic. These steps have worked very well (no water during the last few storms) until the storm we just got on Thanksgiving. We got about 3 inches of rain and about 2-4 inches of water still managed to get in there. No water seems to get in until the ground gets saturated (at two inches of rain both the sump and the chimney were bone dry, then between the 2.5 inch and three inch mark both the sump and chimney start to show some water. Now I have a few questions....
1.) Where is the water coming from? Is it seeping up from the "floor" of the clean out (if so why doesn't water seep up into my cellar window well that goes one foot below grade? Could it be getting in through the seam where the brick of the chimney meets the foundation? When I did my sealing job I couldn't get to exactly where the chimney meets the foundation on one side due to the fact that it looks like they just dumped the extra cement there as there was a huge hardened blob there.
2.) I think this problem is beyond what I can do myself and I need to call a pro to evaluate. Would I call a basement waterproofing company, a chimney company, or foundation/mason? Do any of these companies offer a warranty (I'd hate to throw a lot of money into solutions that won't work).
Thanks for any suggestions!!
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grodenhiATgmailDOTcom wrote:

I dont know if this might help , I would be tempted to dig a sump outside , next to the chimeny and put a sump pump in place. If the water goes over maybe 6" in the sump pump it out away from the house.
It sounds to me like the ground is saturated and with sufficient water its finding a way through.
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check the basics any nearby downspout drains or lines? ground slope towards house?
you should look at the basics before deciding on a repair......
ideally if theres a convenient lower place away from home dig and install underground drain line so if watewr does collect it has a place to go.........
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There's a slight slope away from that side of the house. There is one downspout about 8-10 feet away that drains downhill from this area. I have gone out to inspect the area during heavy rains and I don't see any standing/collecting water. It seems like the ground is simply hitting a saturation point and water is finding it's way in somehow. The chimney begins to take on water at the exact same time that the sump does (again, after about 2.5 inches of rain in a single day). While this amount of rain on a single day is rare, it seems to becoming more and more common in the last two years. I was pondering to put in some drainage pipe along the outside of the chimney and run it perhaps 5-10 feet away to empty out. However, is this just a patch for a leaky chimney that should be fixed, there is no standing water collecting here, just normal ground saturation. My biggest hope is to find a permanent/reliable solution that will hold up to a lot of rain (we're statisically due for a hurricane up here in New England).
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

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I'd be inclined to clean the base and pour it full of concrete up to the level of the cleanout door/and or higher if raising the door is not a big issue. grodenhiATgmailDOTcom wrote:

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"seeping up" ...In my experiance I have yet to see water go up hill. I believe you have answered your own question in question #1 It seems obvious to me that if you sealed everywhere EXCEPT where the chimney and the house meet....thats your spot. Dig out the entire chimney and expose every surface that contacts the house that much water is clearly to me comming from above and flowing through a crack somewhere where the 2 meet. Seal that area with a good quality tar and if you feel inclined after the tar place a piece of flashing in the corners over the tar to hinder wear of the coating. I would also check into the drainage sources in that area thats ALOT of water someting arround the house in that area is NOT RIGHT. If all is right????? you could also in addition (OVER KILL< OVER KILL) install a french drain around the basement and the base of the chimney below grade the thickness of the pipe. But if you have adderssed the drainage issues this would not be necessary. Good luck be sure to post what you find after exsposing the surfaces below grade.....
grodenhiATgmailDOTcom wrote:

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Yes I'm beginning to think more and more it's coming from the joint between the chimney and the foundation. Last summer I did dig all the way around the base of the chimney except for one side I was only able to go about half way down the joint, then hit a solid cement blob. I did foundation sealer on all sides of the chimney and foundation that joins the chimney, and painted over the blob (I was nervous to chip away at it). Looks like this may be the spot. The land slopes slightly AWAY from the chimney and I have never seen water pool/puddle anywhere on that side of the house. That whole side of the house has mulch extending out about 5 feet from the house and bordered with landscaping blocks, perhaps next spring I'll remove all the mulch and backfill with even more soil to make more of a slope then recover with mulch. Would an evergreen ground cover (juniper or the like) help lessen soil saturation? The basement itself already has an interior french drain emptying to a sump. It would probably be easy to put in some drainage pipe once the chimney is all dug out again. I think I'm going to hire this fix out, I obviously didn't do it right the first time, plus when we reselll in a year or so I have the paperwork to show it was repaired by a pro (and perhaps warrantied). Who would be best to call, waterproofing company, chimney company, or foundation repair company? Thanks in advance!!
Italian Mason wrote:

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Well we finally got the first pro out to look at our situation. This was a chimney sweep company and they recommended having them trench 5 feet down all along the perimeter of the chimney and have it backfilled with crushed stone. They would do the work for the cost of $2000. This was more than I was expecting to spend on this problem. I'm still attempting to get a mason here to try to see if we can repair the leak instead of draining around it. Does this fix seem overkill? Again, there is slight slope AWAY from the chimney, the only water in this area is what naturally absorbs into the ground, there is nothing (downspouts, etc) flowing water into the area. If drainage is the only option wouldn't it be cheaper to install drainage pipe around the perimeter and route it 10 feet or so down slope? I do want to ensure the problem is fixed properly (ie I'm not looking to take shortcuts or anything), but this was more work and money than I assumed was needed. Any opinions?? Thanks in advance...
grodenhiATgmailDOTcom wrote:

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On 7 Dec 2006 16:15:06 -0800, "grodenhiATgmailDOTcom"

Clearly this isn't true, or you wouldn't be getting a foot of water out of a 2" rainfall. WE can't tell you where the water is coming from. Figuring that out can only be done by someone who's there. Personally, I think it's coming all the way under your foundation from wherever it is that you dump the water off the roof.
Given that there's no way to know where the water is coming from, the only solution is to get rid of it after it gets there. And that means at the very least a pit and a drain-line.
One of the reasons it's so expensive is that you're digging a pit/trench around the base of a, what, 25-30' tall masonry pile? In wet dirt. Do *YOU* know how to do that without risking a collapse?

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The chimney is not built as part of the foundation (ie our foundation does not jut out to accommodate the chimney. It looks like the builder simply cut an opening 2 feet deep (and maybe three feet wide) into the foundation (from the top), dug a hole outside, put a slab in the bottom of this two foot deep hole, and built a brick chimney on top of it. The footing for the chimney is a good 3-4 feet higher than the foundation footer (if this is even the right terminology). This problem is beyond anything I can do (which is why I'm having pros look at it, and getting opinions here to ensure I don't get ripped off). I'm almost positive it's coming from the ground (as it only comes in after a real good soaking (about three inches of rain), and at the same time the sump in the basement starts to show some water (ie soil must hit a saturation point). I just want to know the best course of action (fix the hole/crack or install drainage). Or, is it possible to fill the entire underground portion with cement and move the cleanout doors outside level with the ground? This way the ground level would be my cleanout floor (which would be about 2 feet below my fireplace floor and maybe 1 foot below the exaust for my oil boiler). Any suggestions are appreciated. And again, if the fix and price mentioned at the beginning of this rambling seem the right course of action and price, I'll go with that.
Goedjn wrote:

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UPDATE..
I've spoken with two more pros on this and they're coming to check it out this weekend. Their solutions (and prices) vary greatly from the first one. One says digging down 5 feet for a chimney base that only goes two feet is not only overkill but a bad idea because it will channel all the water closer to the base of my house foundation. He recocommends getting as much water away as possible by digging down the two feet (than another 6 inches or so), then backfilling with the crushed stone, but laying drainage pipe away from the area.
A mason is going to see if the oil boiler exuast is high up enough (above ground), to simply fill the base with cement and move the cleanout doors form the basement to the outside. This would essentially make the entire base of the chimney a solid block of cement underground and the cleanout floor would be at ground level. TO me this solution sounds best, if possible. Instead of trying to repair the problem this seems to eliminate it altogether. Is there any possible drawbacks to this solution?
I really appreciate the suggestions from this board. I realize not seeing the situation it's impossible to give a fair recomendation. I just want to ensure I'm not getting ripped off, and that the problem is being fixed permanently... I don't want to keep throwing money at it.
grodenhiATgmailDOTcom wrote:

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