Author Topic: 4-5 Inches of Rain. How to Keep Basement Dry?  (Read 8894 times)

oldtoyota

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4-5 Inches of Rain. How to Keep Basement Dry?
« on: April 30, 2014, 01:45:02 PM »
We had a dry basement for many years. In the past year or so, I've noticed that water seems to leak in from the floor near the walls.

We've had about 3-4 inches of rain in 24 hours. One year, we had 13 inches of rain in 12 hours and the basement was maybe damp but not this wet.

This problem mostly happens during extreme rains like this one. A lot of the floor appears dry and this is a small amount of water that pools in different areas. This is nothing like the real floods you see on TV.

I've added soil to around the base of the house. What else can I do to prevent water issues?


CowboyAndIndian

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Re: 4-5 Inches of Rain. How to Keep Basement Dry?
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2014, 02:11:39 PM »
I had a similar issue.

Remember,  a basement is like a well. Both are holes in the ground which collect water ;-)

There are multiple steps involved, most of which need to move external water away from the house. This is what I would do to quickly get results.
  • Make sure the land slopes away from the house on all sides. I think the grade should at least be about 1 inch every 5 feet or so.
  • The Downspouts should only discharge several feet from the house. If you go to Home Depot, you will find a pop-up and piping which will embed the discharge pipe about 10-12 feet away from your house.  Short term solution is to keep it above ground, but long term is to embed it in the ground. If this is confusing, let me know and I'll post pictures of how I did it in my house
  • If you have windows in your basement, make sure that water flowing into the window well is not coming in thru the window. Remove some of the mud at the bottom of the window well and add gravel. Also, you could put in a one of those plastic window well covers, they usually do not last longer than a couple of seasons, but they do work

Basically, all of these steps intend to move the water away from the house, and prevent it from standing against the basement wall.


I would do those three first, and then maybe think of a french drain (highly unlikely based on your description of the problem)

Also, make sure you have a working sump pump and a  battery based backup if your basement is finished.


Indio

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Re: 4-5 Inches of Rain. How to Keep Basement Dry?
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2014, 03:02:59 PM »
Water basement problems are my nemesis. A developer built 2 giganormous houses up the hill from and I've had an unwanted indoor swimming pool ever since because I'm on the flat part of the hill. Yes, Indoor pool could increase property value, but not this kind of indoor pool. I've elevated items 6" off floor, water sealed interior floor, enlarged sump with 2 pumps, 2 back up batteries, generator, extended gutters 30 ft away from house, etc. Next thing will be to dig out soil and tar basement walls but I might move before I get to that point. I live in the smallest house on the street and the neighbors, with their big roof lines, driveways and patios don't have any place for water to go but into street and into watershed.

mboulder

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Re: 4-5 Inches of Rain. How to Keep Basement Dry?
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2014, 03:31:25 PM »
Someshrao is absolutely right. My area had severe flooding last year after several days of torrential rain. After spending a few days ripping out carpeting and drywall at various friends' houses, it became pretty clear that the people who got water away from their walls either through landscaping sloping away from the house, or extensions on the gutter drain spouts, had less basement flooding, if any at all. One hard hit house had an inch or two of standing water up against the house. Bad news!

MayDay

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Re: 4-5 Inches of Rain. How to Keep Basement Dry?
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2014, 06:24:27 PM »
The PP's list is good, but also add cleaning out your gutters regularly.  Like sometimes weekly if leaves are dropping.  Otherwise all the gutter stuff is worthless, since they will dump over the edges during heavy rain. 

We did all of the above to our old house, and after a very expensive fixing up of moldy drywall, we finally put in a sump pump.  Should have just done that from the first, would have saved us about 10k.  Oh well.  In the case of the old house, the neighbors yard sloped down to our yard, and even several dump trucks full of dirt around the foundation didn't change the fundamental fact that a lot of water was routed directly towards our house. 

The new house that we bought is on a hill will sharp drop offs on all sides.  Sucks that the yard isn't level, but it will never have a wet basement.

DollarBill

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Re: 4-5 Inches of Rain. How to Keep Basement Dry?
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2014, 06:50:55 PM »
I had a similar issue.

Remember,  a basement is like a well. Both are holes in the ground which collect water ;-)

There are multiple steps involved, most of which need to move external water away from the house. This is what I would do to quickly get results.
  • Make sure the land slopes away from the house on all sides. I think the grade should at least be about 1 inch every 5 feet or so.
  • The Downspouts should only discharge several feet from the house. If you go to Home Depot, you will find a pop-up and piping which will embed the discharge pipe about 10-12 feet away from your house.  Short term solution is to keep it above ground, but long term is to embed it in the ground. If this is confusing, let me know and I'll post pictures of how I did it in my house
  • If you have windows in your basement, make sure that water flowing into the window well is not coming in thru the window. Remove some of the mud at the bottom of the window well and add gravel. Also, you could put in a one of those plastic window well covers, they usually do not last longer than a couple of seasons, but they do work

Basically, all of these steps intend to move the water away from the house, and prevent it from standing against the basement wall.


I would do those three first, and then maybe think of a french drain (highly unlikely based on your description of the problem)

Also, make sure you have a working sump pump and a  battery based backup if your basement is finished.

What he said (or She??) Also, do you have a sump pump? Is it working properly? When I first got in my house I had a pedestal pump and switched to a submersible pump and added a battery backup. I also sawed a 2" x 2" channel to the sewer drain, so if it still overflows it goes into the sewer and vise versa. I kept the pedestal pump and fitted everything so it would only take one clamp to replace the whole thing for a 4th backup...is that over kill?? :)

I knew a guy who had a good pump with a water pump backup but he didn't pipe it away from the house. The water that would pump out landed next to the house then created a channel back under the house. Then when the pump went out the backup started but the water backup uses more water to pump water and kept pumping more water back under the house. It was not good.

DollarBill

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Re: 4-5 Inches of Rain. How to Keep Basement Dry?
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2014, 06:52:33 PM »
If all of that doesn't work you'll probably need to have it re-sealed from the outside...very costly!

oldtoyota

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Re: 4-5 Inches of Rain. How to Keep Basement Dry?
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2014, 07:04:56 PM »
Thank you. We have the gutters covered. However, your recommendation reminded me that the squirrels like to drag stuff up into the gutters. Once, we found a McDonals's bag in our gutter--and we do not eat fast food!

I should have added that we have the plastic extensions on the down spouts to bring water away from the house, and the windows are slightly above the ground. Also, the leaking came in from a non-window wall.

Grading is probably our best bet along with checking the gutters for stuff the squirrels dragged in. I did not know about the 1 inch per every 5 feet recommendation.

Great info, all!






DoubleDown

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Re: 4-5 Inches of Rain. How to Keep Basement Dry?
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2014, 09:58:10 AM »
Good suggestions so far, and I'll add one that made a tremendous difference for us: build a low retaining wall to keep water away, if you have any places where water rushes towards the basement or foundation during heavy downpours. We used to get water in our basement during big storms, and this one small change eliminated the problem (the low wall keeps 90% of the water away). Just purchased some field stones and stacked them decoratively for about 15 feet. The water now goes around the wall and away from the house, problem solved.

TrMama

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Re: 4-5 Inches of Rain. How to Keep Basement Dry?
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2014, 10:16:54 AM »
Look up. Always look up. Better yet, look up while it's raining. If it's currently coming down in buckets, now is the perfect time to go stand out there and watch what happens to the water coming off your roof.

I can't tell you the number of houses DH and I have looked at that had water issues that could've been solved by simply improving the drainage off the roof and away from the foundations. In Quebec especially there were a million and one foundation repair companies and zero gutter companies. FTR it rains nearly at much in Quebec as it does in the PNW. Many houses didn't have gutters at all.

In your case, make sure the gutters are big enough to catch all the water that comes down in a heavy storm. You might need wider and deeper gutters. Make sure they're sloped properly towards the downspout. Make sure there are enough downspouts, especially if the gutters go around corners. Those corners tend to collect more debris and impede the flow of water.  It's easy to add extra downspouts.

Would adding a plastic owl onto the roof scare away the squirrels?

MissStache

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Re: 4-5 Inches of Rain. How to Keep Basement Dry?
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2014, 10:33:38 AM »
Sympathy!  My castle now has a slowly-filling moat...in my living room.  YIKES.

oldtoyota

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Re: 4-5 Inches of Rain. How to Keep Basement Dry?
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2014, 10:36:01 AM »
Look up. Always look up. Better yet, look up while it's raining. If it's currently coming down in buckets, now is the perfect time to go stand out there and watch what happens to the water coming off your roof.


The rain finally stopped. I will make note to do this next time. I have to say that going outside when it's raining buckets is not usually what I think of doing first. LOL. Great suggestion.


oldtoyota

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Re: 4-5 Inches of Rain. How to Keep Basement Dry?
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2014, 10:36:38 AM »
Sympathy!  My castle now has a slowly-filling moat...in my living room.  YIKES.

What?! Oh, dear. I am sorry. You are in NoVa, right?


MissStache

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Re: 4-5 Inches of Rain. How to Keep Basement Dry?
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2014, 10:49:33 AM »
Yep- Alexandria!  I'm in a basement apartment and have learned that there are a few seeping spots in my floors!  It's all tile, so easy to clean up, but it was certainly a surprise when I came home last night!

jba302

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Re: 4-5 Inches of Rain. How to Keep Basement Dry?
« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2014, 10:59:18 AM »
In addition to the retaining wall, you can add a French Drain to help divert water away. They are DIY'able but can be labor intensive. We're in the midpoint of a hill and I'm adding one underneath our (now crumbling and will be under repair) retaining wall to help keep the water diverted away from the house and to prevent the retaining wall from getting waterlogged.

phred

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Re: 4-5 Inches of Rain. How to Keep Basement Dry?
« Reply #15 on: May 01, 2014, 02:28:25 PM »
Cheaper than a French drain is to just add a swale or two uphill from the house.  A swale is just a very shallow ditch - maybe two to three feet wide by six or eight inches deep.  Once you replant the grass, it won't be that noticeable.  Curve the ends of the swale somewhat like the letter "C", with the ends pointing to where you want the water to be diverted to

Something else to check is that your home's sewage or drain  system does not back up during a rain storm.  This will leave water in the basement.


oldtoyota

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Re: 4-5 Inches of Rain. How to Keep Basement Dry?
« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2014, 03:46:54 PM »
Yep- Alexandria!  I'm in a basement apartment and have learned that there are a few seeping spots in my floors!  It's all tile, so easy to clean up, but it was certainly a surprise when I came home last night!

Oh, right-o. I see it in your profile. Oops.

Alexandria is low and has flooded for 100s of years. I used to live there and thought only Old Town flooded, but I guess not! Hope your place is dry again soon.


oldtoyota

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Re: 4-5 Inches of Rain. How to Keep Basement Dry?
« Reply #17 on: May 01, 2014, 03:51:17 PM »
I was sitting outside a little today. I'd been looking at the gutters and the tubes we have on the drainpipes to bring water away from the house and puzzling over this problem.

I sat some more and looked at the ground near the house and was thinking how we should get more dirt to create that grade mentioned above when I noticed…that there was a slight depression in a long row. I looked up and it mapped to the gutter.

Water must be dripping on the ground from the gutter to create this long, slight depression on the ground near where I noticed the leakage. This might be the problem!

 

timmoney

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Re: 4-5 Inches of Rain. How to Keep Basement Dry?
« Reply #18 on: May 01, 2014, 03:57:22 PM »
I had a similar situation. For years no water issues then all of a sudden it seemed almost constant. I did the sloping and adding dirt but I had to give in and water proof the place. It cost me about 5,000. But truthfully it was worth it . I like holding on to and trying to grow my money with early retirement dreams but the peace of mind I have from not having to fight water and mold and the stuff that comes with the water is truly priceless.
  If you have some guts it's a job I wouldn't be afraid to take on myself. Just look out for those water and gas lines. Rent yourself a bobcat  and you'll need tar, a rubber membrane, and you can even insulate it from the outside while you're at it. It's a dirty job but not overly back breaking and I think you'll be glad you did it

phred

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Re: 4-5 Inches of Rain. How to Keep Basement Dry?
« Reply #19 on: May 01, 2014, 09:26:40 PM »

Water must be dripping on the ground from the gutter to create this long, slight depression on the ground near where I noticed the leakage. This might be the problem!
Probably more like a waterfall than a drip - especially in a heavy rain.  Looks like you've solved your own problem

Greg

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Re: 4-5 Inches of Rain. How to Keep Basement Dry?
« Reply #20 on: May 01, 2014, 09:57:41 PM »
Water must be dripping on the ground from the gutter to create this long, slight depression on the ground near where I noticed the leakage. This might be the problem!

Sounds like either a gutter or downspout clog or not enough downspouts.  I have to clean my gutters 4-5 times a year.  Metal roof, wooded setting.

oldtoyota

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Re: 4-5 Inches of Rain. How to Keep Basement Dry?
« Reply #21 on: May 02, 2014, 06:34:24 AM »
I had a similar situation. For years no water issues then all of a sudden it seemed almost constant. I did the sloping and adding dirt but I had to give in and water proof the place. It cost me about 5,000. But truthfully it was worth it . I like holding on to and trying to grow my money with early retirement dreams but the peace of mind I have from not having to fight water and mold and the stuff that comes with the water is truly priceless.
  If you have some guts it's a job I wouldn't be afraid to take on myself. Just look out for those water and gas lines. Rent yourself a bobcat  and you'll need tar, a rubber membrane, and you can even insulate it from the outside while you're at it. It's a dirty job but not overly back breaking and I think you'll be glad you did it

We have a water meter right in the spot where the dirt needs to be added. I am not sure I would do the above on my own because we're always hearing not to dig without checking. I am also wondering how I can add a lot of dirt when I would basically be covering the water meter itself. It strikes me that the meter location is not good/dumb.


TrMama

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Re: 4-5 Inches of Rain. How to Keep Basement Dry?
« Reply #22 on: May 02, 2014, 11:53:06 AM »
Water must be dripping on the ground from the gutter to create this long, slight depression on the ground near where I noticed the leakage. This might be the problem!

Water should not be dripping on the ground from the gutter. If there's been enough water overflowing from the gutters to erode a ditch on the ground underneath, you have a problem. You need to stop the water from overflowing out of the gutters. Once you've done that, then you can fix the damage to your grading. If you add soil without fixing the gutters, they'll just overflow and erode the regraded soil again. You're getting much closer to solving the problem though.

You may just need to clean the gutters much more frequently. Ours need to be done about every two months from September - May. We even have to clean them after all the pines pollinate in the spring because the pollen washes from the roof into the gutters and then grows into thick gooey slime. That's a fun job ;-)

If you want to regrade around your water meter, you may be able to create an egress for it. Usually basement windows are egressed, but I'm sure you can do it around meters as well. Google will tell you all about egress's.

phred

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Re: 4-5 Inches of Rain. How to Keep Basement Dry?
« Reply #23 on: May 02, 2014, 12:47:27 PM »
take a long piece of string, such as a chalkline, and stretch it from one end of the gutter to the other.  Is the gutter sagging where it drips over to the ground depression?  If yes, then add gutter hangers to raise it.  Otherwise, the sag acts like a bucket.  The water then can't flow uphill to the downspouts, but spills over the edge instead.

Remove each downspout and look through it.  Can you see a full circle or rectangle?  Do not shove a hose into the bottom of the downspout while it is still mounted.  Otherwise you may decorate your roof with whatever crud may be in it

oldtoyota

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Re: 4-5 Inches of Rain. How to Keep Basement Dry?
« Reply #24 on: May 02, 2014, 01:10:55 PM »
Water must be dripping on the ground from the gutter to create this long, slight depression on the ground near where I noticed the leakage. This might be the problem!

Water should not be dripping on the ground from the gutter. If there's been enough water overflowing from the gutters to erode a ditch on the ground underneath, you have a problem. You need to stop the water from overflowing out of the gutters. Once you've done that, then you can fix the damage to your grading. If you add soil without fixing the gutters, they'll just overflow and erode the regraded soil again. You're getting much closer to solving the problem though.

You may just need to clean the gutters much more frequently. Ours need to be done about every two months from September - May. We even have to clean them after all the pines pollinate in the spring because the pollen washes from the roof into the gutters and then grows into thick gooey slime. That's a fun job ;-)

If you want to regrade around your water meter, you may be able to create an egress for it. Usually basement windows are egressed, but I'm sure you can do it around meters as well. Google will tell you all about egress's.

Yes. Good point. I may not have been clear because I was excited to be getting close to an answer. We do plan to look into the gutters too. I am hoping that is a project for this weekend--tomorrow. Since they are covered, we thought we were done with cleaning them out. When our gutters were ruined due to a tree, our insurance covered gutters with covers on them. We thought we were done cleaning them out…but we sorta kinda forgot that the squirrels/rats drag shit up there.