Buying a house with a possible wet basement...thoughts?

cesmodeMarch 15, 2010

Good morning all. I am looking to buy my first home that I absolutely love. The only problem is that it might have a wet basement. When I first viewed the house, it was around June of 2009, and it had small puddles near the walls of the basement, only one one side of the basement. The agent said he has never seen any water in the basement before. This was in June of 2009. During this past weekend, as some of you may know, the Northeast was literally pounded with 4-5 inches of rain from Friday afternoon through now(monday morning), where at its worst was Saturday evening.

We checked out that basement again Saturday morning, it had no water. Sunday morning, it had those puddles again. The basement walls are bone dry it seems..the center of the basement is dry. I cant see any water lines on the furnace or the oil heater..so it doesnt seem like there have been inches upon inches of water in the basement ever...but who knows. The house was built in 1965, with no sump pump.

My questions/concerns are this:

1. since there are no signs of water on the walls or windows, It has to be coming up from the floor, correct? Will a sump pump fix this?

2. If the house has had no sump pup for the last 40+ years, and has had some ocassional water issues as described above, what kind of structural damage could I expect with the house? Will the floors on the living levels start to squeek..what could possibly happen?

3. I read mixed reviews on drylok and other sealers on the floors. Thoughts?

4. If I went ahead and bought it, would it be prudent to simply drylok and patch up the joints and where the walls meet the floor...along with installing a sump pump + dehumidifier?

I know that a sump and dehumidifier will help..im just concerned with any damage that could have been caused with this untreated basement...Whats the worst that can happen to the structure?

Thanks

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homebound

Good for you for checking after the latest weather.

Patching yourself isn't going to do much of anything. But installing some sort of floor drainage system + sump pump can help. On the exterior, a combo of proper grading, extending the downspouts and keeping gutters clean can also help greatly.

More important questions: Are there any obvious settlement issues, such as wall cracks or walls that are not plumb (pushing inward, for example).

Finally, you have to think about how you will use the basement. If you were planning on finishing it, you would likely have to stick with a moisture-friendly floor, such as tile.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 11:59AM
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cesmode

Thanks for the followup.
I am planning on installing a sump pump as soon as I get there, as well as looking into the gutters and putting in a French drain.

My cousin, who would be across the street, has drain tile set up, which is similar to french drain..Ill look into that.

I would be patching up spots where I think its coming in via drylok(but not painting entire walls as I dont want to trap moisture in the cinder)

The walls themselves are flat as an arrow...The center floor yesterday was bone dry..its just along the one wall, going into the center of the floor about 4 feet.

Was planning on carpeting..but maybe I can get away with tile and area rugs.

Are there any floor sealers or proofers I can put on the floor that wouldnt be detrimental to the overall settle and shift of the foundation?

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 12:06PM
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twosandalz

I have a similar basement/water situation in my house, which I bought a year ago. So here's my $0.02, I hope it helps you with your decision.

1. Ask yourself how much tolerance you have for cleaning out a flooded basement. There's no guarantee a sump and other measures will keep out water 100% in a big flood. Will you be able to thoroughly clean and dry it out w/in 3 days (about the length of time it takes for the mold to start growing).

2. Don't underestimate hydrostatic pressure. It is stronger than Drylok.

3. Determining why the water comes in is important. Maybe the yard drains into the basement. Or maybe the water table rises up above your basement floor during storms. The strategies to address these differ.

4. Find a good house inspector and ask about your concerns over potential structural damage during the inspection. I got a wealth of info from mine, and he looked extra closely at the issues that had raised red flags to me. He also discussed the pros and cons of methods we might use to keep water out.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 5:47PM
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worthy

Catch the next street car!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 8:32PM
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homebound

Worthy,

It took me a moment to understand what you meant by that. (But it seems they already got on board, so we'll see where it goes.)

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 9:56AM
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cesmode

We are holding off on this house. We might revisit it. Thanks for the input

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 2:28PM
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l_mtl

My best advice: don't do it. You are lucky to know about this before you sign...

We bought a house which was an estate sale (no info, no warranty). During big thunderstorms, water gets in where the wall meet the floor. We had gutters installed, regraded, installed a sump pump... about once or twice every summer, water gets in... the neighbor (who has the house attached to ours; it is a semi-detached house) had an expensive french drain job done, but still gets water. This is not a problem with a simple and cheap fix, believe me. A clear crack would be a much easier thing to fix. We are now looking into inside drains, but the opinions are very mixed on the possible chances of succes (after many thousands of dollars...).

Our basement is not suitable for any permanent livable space. We store things down there, but everything has to be on some sort of shelve at least a couple of inches from the floor...

This is a constant source of aggravation for us. Everytime it rains, I am afraid water will get in the basement. I would have never bought the house if I had known. It will also be a big issue at resale.

My 2 cents,

Lyne

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 4:40AM
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kevingalaxy

My 2 cents, as much as it hurts, don buy it. it can be a head ache, you might have structural problems underneath etc etc, but what do i know. get in a good inspector and let them look over it properly, maybe even get in an expert. Sounds like its running down the side of yoru house and up through the floor. Maybe new gutters will do the trick?

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 2:09PM
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bio-modified

Sounds interesting. I would bet that the house had the same issues as my parents did until I used dryloc (two coats)on the walls and patch a few rods holes that the water was comming through the poured foundation. It had settled after 40 years and after I added longer run offs for the downspouts most of the water sepage stoped, but as well the water comming down from the downspout next to the driveway was somehow seeping under the driveway and through the basement wall somehow. Dryloc took care of that along with using dyke cement. I would not buy a house like that unless they took 10 grand less for the problems to be fix. You could be facing all new drain tile around the home which is expensive.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 10:59PM
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