Author Topic: Seeking advice regarding a weeping foundation  (Read 3296 times)

Longwing

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Seeking advice regarding a weeping foundation
« on: November 22, 2015, 09:20:03 PM »
So I've got water penetration in one corner of my basement. After tearing out the drywall, I find a thoroughly water-damaged joist, and some "repairs" made by a previous owner. It seems they slapped patch concrete on earlier cracks, and filled in the gap behind the joist for good measure.

So now I'm trying to figure out how to remove the joist from the concrete, preferably without breaking out a jackhammer (though I'm not taking any options off the table yet).

Photos are here: http://imgur.com/a/vvlN1

I'm thinking I need to get that joist out of there to find the true source of some of the moisture (though some is certainly coming from those cracks). The joist is sound, though moldy as heck, and I suspect some of the water must be coming in from behind it. Because it's surrounded by concrete, I've been thinking that the right tool to use is an Oscillating Multi-tool (like this one here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005AZI12O for $60), however, I'm nonplussed about buying a brand new tool just to attack a single job. I have a fully kitted out shop, but I'm at a loss as to how to neatly separate that joist from the concrete without damaging the foundation.

I'd really rather repair this myself, if I can. Foundation work is one of those things that most people say "screw it, let the experts solve this problem", but we're talking about a little weeping, not big cracks or settling. It strikes me like the kind of thing a little elbow grease can solve.

Anyone have any thoughts or advice?

Greg

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Re: Seeking advice regarding a weeping foundation
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2015, 10:35:36 PM »
OK, that's not a joist it's a bottom plate, and should be treated lumber if in contact with concrete.

So yes, cut it out if you want to repair, but the best solutions are going to come from keeping the water away from the exterior, i.e. french drains, footing drains and other extensive digging projects.  You may get lucky with redirecting downspout water away from the house using long splashblocks or more drainage piping.

paddedhat

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Re: Seeking advice regarding a weeping foundation
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2015, 04:37:02 AM »
Greg is right, start outside first. I have a new, fairly complex foundation in my home. The slope of the grade outside is correct, the exterior of the foundation is sealed, the footer has a proper French drain, and the interior of the wall is coated in spray foam, topped with a fire rated, rubberized coating. In theory it seems that it should be nearly waterproof. This past spring, after hard rains, the humidity level in the crawl space was slowly climbing, for a few days, to reach unacceptable levels. I did an inspection of everything, found that one gutter was clogged. The ground adjacent to the foundation wall was saturated and moisture was slowly migrating into to crawl space. The point being, not only do you need to control as many variables as possible on the exterior of the foundation, these potential trouble spots need to be inspected and maintained.

OTOH, it is possible to address issues from the inside, and basement water issues have spawned an entire specialty industry. They typically seal the interior surface of the wall, then install an interior drain that collects water at the base of the wall and pumps or drains it away. If you go this route, it typically involves removing the stud walls shown in your picture. If you want to try a bit of DIY remediation, first tear the wall out, then clean up the surface of the masonry. This may involve everything from wire brushing to hammer and chisel removal of loose material. At that point there are a number of products you can use to create a water barrier. I have had success with Dryloc and Thoroseal, but there are lots of options.

As for damage and structure. Unless there are very unusual circumstances present, there is no structure involved here. The pictures seem to indicate a non-structural wall, added to finish out a basement. The masonry wall supports the building, and the floor joist should be supported by the masonry, not the stud wall, which is typically installed after the home is occupied. To remove, just smack the stud off the bottom plate with a hammer, and pull it loose.

lthenderson

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Re: Seeking advice regarding a weeping foundation
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2015, 07:42:46 AM »
I would remove that old bottom plate using a flatbar and/or crowbar and some elbow grease. At most, it probably has a few nails in it holding it down to the concrete so once you remove the vertical studs and the tiles nearest the wall, it should come up fairly easily. I definitely wouldn't by an oscillating tool for that job. All it would do is cut them in smaller pieces that you still need to remove with a flatbar or crowbar. Once you have it removed, I would hold off putting anything there until you figure out the water infiltration problem. I would make sure I am down there after a heavy rain to see where any water is coming in from. There are several products in home improvement stores for sealing up cracks and such to prevent future water infiltration. But by far, the best solution is to tackle it from the outside. If you have proper sloped drainage on the outside and no down spout issues, the next step is to dig the soil away from the foundation and waterproof it from the outside before backfilling and regrading. Once you have the problem solved, tape a piece of plastic up to the concrete in that area for a few weeks and make sure there is no condensate on the backside of the plastic. If there is, the problem still needs more solving. Once it is dry and the problem solved, make sure to use treated lumber for the bottom plate.

maco

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Re: Seeking advice regarding a weeping foundation
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2015, 09:40:10 AM »
the next step is to dig the soil away from the foundation and waterproof it from the outside before backfilling and regrading
In this case, that's a longer process: jackhammer out the driveway & dig down 5ft are how that'd have to start :-/

However, the driveway does have seams that run across it, which had plants growing in there, meaning there are cracks in the driveway seams. We've been meaning to re-seal those cracks. Think that'd be enough?

(hi, I am spouse)
« Last Edit: November 23, 2015, 09:42:16 AM by maco »

paddedhat

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Re: Seeking advice regarding a weeping foundation
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2015, 09:51:13 AM »
the next step is to dig the soil away from the foundation and waterproof it from the outside before backfilling and regrading
In this case, that's a longer process: jackhammer out the driveway & dig down 5ft are how that'd have to start :-/

However, the driveway does have seams that run across it, which had plants growing in there, meaning there are cracks in the driveway seams. We've been meaning to re-seal those cracks. Think that'd be enough?




(hi, I am spouse)


Probably not, but it's good maintenance, and it should be done anyway.  The other issue is that excavating and sealing a wall from the outside is the very last step taken, once all less invasive and financially draining steps are exhausted.

lthenderson

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Re: Seeking advice regarding a weeping foundation
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2015, 12:27:26 PM »
the next step is to dig the soil away from the foundation and waterproof it from the outside before backfilling and regrading
In this case, that's a longer process: jackhammer out the driveway & dig down 5ft are how that'd have to start :-/

However, the driveway does have seams that run across it, which had plants growing in there, meaning there are cracks in the driveway seams. We've been meaning to re-seal those cracks. Think that'd be enough?

(hi, I am spouse)

If there is a driveway over that area outside that wall, I would guess directly under the driveway isn't the part that is causing you problems. So much can be accomplished in drying out a basement by just making sure the soil slopes away from the house, you have gutters and they drain away from the foundation. If you have those three things done, you can keep most basements dry without going the extra step of exposing the foundation and waterproofing it on the outside. Like someone else above said, that should be your last resort. If you have a spot that is flat near the foundation or actually drains water towards the foundation, water can follow the foundation for a ways before finding a crack to infiltrate your house. Assuming the driveway above is sloped away from your foundation, look other places on either side of the driveway for problem areas.

As for your cracks in the driveway, those are put there on purpose to allow your driveway to crack in a controlled manner and not where you wouldn't like cracks forming. During the heat and freeze cycles, they will expand and contract. Some people seal them but I don't bother. I would doubt that enough water could leech through a crack and down through five feet of soil to cause a problem. I would guess your problem is elsewhere on either side of the driveway. I fill the cracks up with packed gravel dust to discourage weed growth and allow the majority of the water to flow on over the concrete. When weeds do start growing in them, hit them a couple times a year with some roundup.

maco

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Re: Seeking advice regarding a weeping foundation
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2015, 02:05:47 PM »
If there is a driveway over that area outside that wall, I would guess directly under the driveway isn't the part that is causing you problems. So much can be accomplished in drying out a basement by just making sure the soil slopes away from the house, you have gutters and they drain away from the foundation. If you have those three things done, you can keep most basements dry without going the extra step of exposing the foundation and waterproofing it on the outside. Like someone else above said, that should be your last resort. If you have a spot that is flat near the foundation or actually drains water towards the foundation, water can follow the foundation for a ways before finding a crack to infiltrate your house. Assuming the driveway above is sloped away from your foundation, look other places on either side of the driveway for problem areas.
The house is surrounded by concrete on 3 sides for 10ft in all directions. Only the back yard touches the house, and that slopes very definitely the right direction.

We have two window wells on the driveway side, and the leaky spot we've noticed is between the two of them. When water comes down the driveway, it flows around the first one and sloshes into the space between them. There's a brick edge on the window wells, so once water gets between the window wells (second one being downhill of first one -- the house is 5ft below street level), it doesn't have an easy path of travel back away from the house for 18" around the second window well. There's no way to turn the space between the window wells into a very definite slope without cutting out the concrete between the window wells and repouring, is there? And yes, we do have covers on the window wells.

Kroaler

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Re: Seeking advice regarding a weeping foundation
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2015, 09:28:44 AM »
You sir, have a big project on your hands...

Axecleaver

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Re: Seeking advice regarding a weeping foundation
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2015, 10:53:27 AM »
Concrete is porous, take a look at the concrete up against the house and determine if that's where the water is coming in. It's probably either along the wall through the concrete, or at the window well. You can put heavier, clay dirt on top of concrete to adjust the grading, but in the past when I've run into this, the advice I got was to put in new gutters, jackhammer out all the concrete and then regrade to ensure water goes away from the house.

I'm sure that's not what you wanted to hear, but basically it comes down to solving the drainage problem outside, then fixing up whatever rotted away inside.

lthenderson

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Re: Seeking advice regarding a weeping foundation
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2015, 08:20:42 AM »
If there is a driveway over that area outside that wall, I would guess directly under the driveway isn't the part that is causing you problems. So much can be accomplished in drying out a basement by just making sure the soil slopes away from the house, you have gutters and they drain away from the foundation. If you have those three things done, you can keep most basements dry without going the extra step of exposing the foundation and waterproofing it on the outside. Like someone else above said, that should be your last resort. If you have a spot that is flat near the foundation or actually drains water towards the foundation, water can follow the foundation for a ways before finding a crack to infiltrate your house. Assuming the driveway above is sloped away from your foundation, look other places on either side of the driveway for problem areas.
The house is surrounded by concrete on 3 sides for 10ft in all directions. Only the back yard touches the house, and that slopes very definitely the right direction.

We have two window wells on the driveway side, and the leaky spot we've noticed is between the two of them. When water comes down the driveway, it flows around the first one and sloshes into the space between them. There's a brick edge on the window wells, so once water gets between the window wells (second one being downhill of first one -- the house is 5ft below street level), it doesn't have an easy path of travel back away from the house for 18" around the second window well. There's no way to turn the space between the window wells into a very definite slope without cutting out the concrete between the window wells and repouring, is there? And yes, we do have covers on the window wells.

I'm guessing this area is very likely your problem and you are right, there isn't an easy way to fix this other than cutting out the concrete and pouring a new patch that is properly sloped away from the house.  This is probably out of the range of most DIY but it shouldn't be terribly expensive to hire it out. Another option I have done in situations like yours where sloping it properly might not be easy is to cut a slot in the concrete and install a french drain to collect the water before it gets to your house. I mostly do this for sloped driveways draining towards a garage but it would work in your case as well.

Edited to fix quoted text.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2015, 10:16:28 AM by lthenderson »

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Seeking advice regarding a weeping foundation
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2015, 10:11:41 AM »
put in new gutters, jackhammer out all the concrete and then regrade to ensure water goes away from the house.

Yep, I've had to do this on a previous house, and I've had the outside dug up and waterproofed on my current house. Enormous pain in the ass and it delays your FIRE date, but it will solve your problem.