Water under foundation....when to panic?


It's been rainy here in the South this past week. Nearly 10 inches of rain over 4 days according to my rain gauge. Long story short, I ended up with a little water in my basement (probaby not more than 2-3 gallons total given the size of the wet spot). There is no drain in my basement floor. I assumed initially that the water had come under my garage door (which is at the bottom of the driveway), but the water was on the wrong side of the basement, so I was worried that something else was happening. (It should be noted that my house is built into the side of a small hill, the front door is actually the 2nd floor, and the basement is exposed on one side and the back and there is a door to the outside on the back.) I start moving some things around to begin drying things out and I notice a hole in the basement floor, about the size of a quarter. I had seen the hole before, but then it was more of a divet in the concrete, not more than a 1/2" deep. Well, now the little hole is deeper. It goes through the concrete and at least a foot or two down into the dirt beneath the house. I have a little metal rod that I stuck in there to see how deep it was going and it came out dirty.
This amount of rainfall is unusual and I've never had water come up through this hole before, so I'm wondering how freaked out I should be now. Should I just pour some watery concrete in the whole and forget about it?
Thanks for any thoughts!
Mike
P.S. This likely all stems from a clogged gutter situation on the front of the house. Time to break out the ladder.
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Mike wrote:

My house is like this and I've had small amount of water in basement twice mainly due to gutter problems. Just make sure drainage is away from house and probably fix hole in concrete. This assumes you do not have a water table problem.
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Mike wrote:

The hole is near the uphill side of the walkout basement? Nearer the garage, or nearer the almost-walkout sidewall? Is your garage in the basement, or attached to the end of the main level, opposite the exposed end of the basement? Is the garage door lower than the street? Trying to picture how much buried basement wall is above the leak point. Flooding from gutters usually shows up at grade level on the wall, unless the wall is well-sealed and it leaks in at footer level. The fact that a hole developed up from the bottom of the slab is not a good sign, unless the slab is almost at grade level at that point. That means water is running UNDER the basement.
I'd throw the money for a professional site survey. And you can't just pour concrete in the hole to get any meaningful fill and support- it will need to be pumped in under pressure. There may be a water-carved cave in there all the way across the slab. How close is the hole to where the clogged gutter was? As long as nothing has cracked, no need to panic yet, but it does need to be tended to sooner rather than later, especially if you live north of the snow line. Along with having a mud-jacking company pump the cave full of concrete, you also likely need to do some work on the outside landscaping and drainage. I suspect water coming down the hill did as much or more damage than any short-term ponding from an overflowing gutter. You may need a swale or even a drain trench in the front yard to redirect the water around the house. And you may need a sump pit punched through the slab if you don't have one, with a pump draining to a daylight drain at the downhill end of the lot, for the next time it rains for days.
Good example of why the house should almost always be at the highest point on the lot, or at least make the front yard slope toward the street, at least for the first ten feet around the house.
-- aem sends....
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Thanks, Frank and aem....I will post some pics of the house and general situation a little later. For now, it's raining, natch.
Mike
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Without considering all of the possibilities right now, I'd be inclined to call the city (or county?) building dept. to find out what complaints they have heard and what the expected soil conditions would be after 10 inches of rain. You may just have a situation with the soil being completely saturated and some of the water found a weak point to exit. I'd also leave the hole in the concrete alone for now to monitor.
You've stated there is a slope, but not where you are in relation to the bottom of the slope or what type of drainage system there is to drain storm water from the property. Lots of info that may have a bearing is missing.
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wrote:

Thank you, Norminn....you are right, I omitted some key info. Well, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are 6 pics showing the house and the hole in the floor:
http://gallery.me.com/beverley.tetrick#100341
Would love to hear what you folks think after seeing what I was talking about.
By the way, here is the original post I put up this morning since it got snipped in Norminn's reply:
It's been rainy here in the South this past week. Nearly 10 inches of rain over 4 days according to my rain gauge. Long story short, I ended up with a little water in my basement (probaby not more than 2-3 gallons total given the size of the wet spot). There is no drain in my basement floor. I assumed initially that the water had come under my garage door (which is at the bottom of the driveway), but the water was on the wrong side of the basement, so I was worried that something else was happening. (It should be noted that my house is built into the side of a small hill, the front door is actually the 2nd floor, and the basement is exposed on one side and the back and there is a door to the outside on the back.) I start moving some things around to begin drying things out and I notice a hole in the basement floor, about the size of a quarter. I had seen the hole before, but then it was more of a divet in the concrete, not more than a 1/2" deep. Well, now the little hole is deeper. It goes through the concrete and at least a foot or two down into the dirt beneath the house. I have a little metal rod that I stuck in there to see how deep it was going and it came out dirty.
This amount of rainfall is unusual and I've never had water come up through this hole before, so I'm wondering how freaked out I should be now. Should I just pour some watery concrete in the whole and forget about it?
Thanks for any thoughts!
Mike
P.S. This likely all stems from a clogged gutter situation on the front of the house. Time to break out the ladder.
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<snip story> Can't quite see from the pictures, but isn't it likely that the drainage right in front of the house was insufficient, and water couldn't move dow the lawn towards the street? It then tried to go down, and came under the foundation and up through the floor by the "front" wall of the basement.
So, better drainage in front of the house should do it, either by modifying the slope or digging and installing a French drain.
Disclaimer: I'm a biochemist not an engineer.
--
Best regards
Han
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Thank you, Han. Yes, I agree entirely that the drainage right along the front of the house is probable cause. My primary concern now is this......now that I have evidence that there's water under the foundation....what do I do about it?? The drainage along the front of the house is the source of the water and I will handle that (clean gutters, etc.), I'm just concerned about the apparent water under the basement floor.
Thank you!
Mike
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Mike wrote:

It seems to me that everyone is missing the major point - there was TEN INCHES OF RAIN! Water has to seek it's level, which is down a slope and/or through the soil. Where it goes through the soil would likely be known by the city building depts. If there has been no previous water problem in the basement, then it stands to reason that the soil is saturated and will eventually drain. Not an issue to ignore, by any means, but - heck - don't start planning for engineering solutions that aren't needed but for a 100 year rain. Idea: find a spot in the yard that is level with the floor of the basement. Start digging and see if you soon get a hole filled with water (like at the beach).
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You're bringing up an important point - what to do to mitigate the effects of such excessive rain. I do believe that the first thing to do is adjust if at all possible the grading. Then, if indeed it is groundwater welling up into the basement, there are only 2 things you can do: Dig and install a French drain, if necessary with a sump pump, or completely waterproof the floor and walls of the basement so it will stay dry, even if it "floats" in the groundwater. You may have to ask Dutch engineers to help, as that is apparently the way many DUtch basements are constructed.
--
Best regards
Han
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Mike wrote:

Nice pictures. I still think unclogging the gutters and maybe adding a little dirt around foundation to improve drainage will solve problem. Make sure down spouts do not dump water too close to house. Hole, I'd just concrete over. It was an unusual amount of rain and may not happen again but the "100 year problem" could happen again tomorrow.
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Hello again. I wrote here yesterday that I had some water coming out of a hole in my basement floor. I now think that is not really what is happening. I think the water is seeping between where the wall meets the foundation. I have smoothed out the dirt along the front of the house (while it was still raining, natch). I put down 4 bags of pine bark over the area so discourage the puddling that was happening. Somehow I feel a little better about the situation now that I believe the water didn't come out of that hole.
I have not been able to address the root cause of this whole situation yet (referring to the clogged gutters) but will do that soon. It has been raining off and on all day and it's supposed to continue for another few days. We have, according to my rain gauge, been the recipient of a foot of rain since last Tuesday. Crazy.
Thanks again,
Mike
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Now we're over 16 inches of rain since last Tuesday. Still have a bit of water seeping in between the foundation and basement wall, but nothing extreme. Just trying to hold on till the weather clears (on Thursday from what I hear). Once I get the gutters cleaned I should be good to go.
Thanks again for the comments/info.
Mike
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once rain finds a path, its more likely to happen again.
dont finish your basement, no carpeting walls etc.
unless you have a interior french drain installed
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Luckily the side of the basement that is buried (and getting the seeping water) is the garage/workshop side and would not be a likely candidate for remodeling.
The rain has stopped for now and the seeping water has stopped. We're pretty lucky compare to some who have had feet of water in their basements as well as others who have lost their lives in the flooding we have had here.
Thanks...
Mike
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Given that you had 10 inches of rain in a short time, I would not get overly worried about having a little bit of water seep in. And I would not make a big deal whether it's coming from where the wall meets the floor or from the small hole in the concrete. When the water is gone, I'd seal up the hole with hydraulic cement.
And I take the advice to not place anything on the floor that can be damaged by moisture or water. Making sure the grading is correct outside is essential. Go take a look during a heavy rain to verify what is really going on. I had a problem once where I got water in the basement and couldn't figure out why. Turns out it was from a downspout that had a corrugated pipe on the end of it. It looked like it was far enough up the downspout that water couldn't run out the wrong way. But in a heavy rain I saw it was actually flowing freely out right at the foundation.
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