Three months ago I had my drains replaced under the basement. The
plumber broke the basement floor, laid new pipes and then replaced the
broken part of the floor with cement.
Since then, I've been concerned that the cement never seems to fully
dry out. Last night, after a day of torrential rain, water started
leaking out of a crack in the new cement.
The plumber claims it's not his fault. He says cement is not supposed
to be waterproof. That there's something wrong with my foundation,
because water should not be getting under my house.
If this is so, then why doesn't every house's foundation simply
crumble after 3 months?
The house is 40 years old, and there has never been an issue with
water seeping up from the cement floor.
Is it possible the plumber should have used a better material? Is
there a cement used for foundations that can resist water for more
than 3 months? Any suggestions as to what I should do now? Thanks.
If the plumber replaced a concrete floor with cement, then that is a
huge problem. Cement is the binder for concrete, but it alone does not
make a good floor.
Concrete is water-proof if the cement ratio is high enough, but I'm not
sure if pure cement is waterproof or not. However, making a joint in
concrete water-proof is nearly impossible and it is a joint that is your
I agree with your plumber that water should not be getting under your
house and there should be a foundation drain system in place, however,
if you don't have one, then you have a difficult problem. I doubt you
can ever patch the hole in the floor such that it will resist water
under any pressure at all.
Being resistant to water and being water-proof aren't the same.
Concrete can be exposed to water indefinitely without causing harm to
the concrete (think of a swimming pool). However, if concrete has
joints in it, they may well pass water. It isn't the concrete that is
your problem, it is the joint/crack caused by cutting up the floor and
then patching it.
There are hydraulic cements that can be used to make concrete that will
swell rather than shrink as it cures, but I've not used them personally
and am not familiar with the details of using them. You may want to
search on hydraulic cement/concrete and see what you can find.
Also, I wouldn't depend on a plumber for knowledge of concrete. I'd
call a reputable mason or concrete contractor for advice.
Here is the important info I left out. As part of what they did, they
replaced the underground pipes all the way out to the street. They
excavated my front yard and replaced the drains 12 feet below the
surface. The plumber now says that as a result of their backfilling,
the water table level changed and now I'm getting water under my
basement floor, which I never had before. In fact, besides the cement
cracks, there is a space under my furnace where there is no floor, and
water was coming up through there as well, for the first time.
Of course the plumber claims that this is a rare occurrence and takes
no responsibility. Now he says I need a sump pump. This means more
digging and excavating. Who will pay for this? I guess the judge will
That would be a *bad* move, IMHO. Throwing good money after bad. It is
*very* unlikely that you would win. You'd have to show that this is a
common enough problem that he should have forseen it (you can't, it
isn't) and even then unless he made a contract that had a provision
that this would not happen, it is *still* not his fault.
Don't waste money on useless lawsuits. Instead, see if he'll take
sympathy on you, and give you a break and a discount on the work. Of
course if you have pissed him off already, I guess you are out of
Well, you could price other people doing the same job, and you could
make sure that you both agree on exactly what the outcome of the job
will be, but generally if everything else is on the par, then that
kind of a split seems reasonable.
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