What do I do next after seepage (long)?

teddychicagoSeptember 20, 2008

My husband and I are not very handy. This is our first house (we had an 11th floor condo previously). We have no idea what to do after last week's storms. After Chicago's extensive rains last weekend, our basement got water. Thankfully it wasn't a lot like some neighbors. But we had to rip out all our carpet padding because it just soaked up the water and made the carpet all squishy.

We tore out the pad and dried out the carpet. But now what do we do? How would we investigate the source of the problem? We suspect the problem came from an exterior foundation wall in the front of the house. But we don't know for certain. That would require us to remove painted paneling in our basement.

Under the carpet padding was old vinyl looking tiles. Should we pull up some of those and see if the concrete floor is cracked or something?

Basically we don't know where to start. Our basement is in chaos with carpet everywhere and toys shoved into the dry corners. I want to get our basement "working" again as soon as possible because my children (ages 5,3,1) need a place to play.

FWIW, we have never had a water problem before. The previous owner told us she had a water problem only once, back in the 90s. Other neighbors told us that storm was like the one Chicago had this past weekend. So I guess heavy, heavy rains could happen again in another 10 years?

Thanks for any advice!

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How old is your home? Did the water come from all around, or primarily from the one location you mention? Do you have a sump pump to collect water from foundation tiles? Is there a drain in the basement floor and did water come up through it?

Somehow since you say the problem is periodic, I don't believe your problem is a major one. Walk around the house and carefully inspect the foundation for any settling cracks. Do these align with the places water infiltrated? Also, check for low spots where water might not be running away from the building. These need to be filled with soil.

If the source was from a foundation crack, the best solution is to have one of the basement companies like advertise all the time inject sealer outside. If it was from a floor drain, speak with a plumber. If you don't have a sump pump and/or water came from all around, you could have a blocked foundation tile, or no foundation tiles in either case solving the problem for the future is going to be more costly.

You need to locate the source - even if it means removing some of the paneling. If you have actual paneling, it is most likely 4 x 8 sections and there is a strip covering the seams every 4 feet.

Simply remove the strips (carefully, trying not to split them) and then a sheet of the paneling. You'll need a pry bar, possibly a hammer, wear gloves and it will come off.

Hope this gives you some help and courage. Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 11:17AM
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Thank you for taking the time to think about our problem!

Our house is a 1950s Cape Cod. Ironically, it was not the sump pump that failed. That thing worked hard all weekend and the area around it (the unfinished part of the basement) stayed nice and dry.

The wet part was in the finished part of the basement, near the front of the house. I suspect water came in somehow and the carpet pad just wicked it up and the wetness spread throughout most of the pad. The carpet around the edges didn't get so wet.

I think we will look under the paneling. Time to visit Ace Hardware for some tools! Thanks again for your help :)

    Bookmark   September 21, 2008 at 3:53PM
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Could the water have come in from the windows/window wells?

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 11:39AM
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Did the entire basement get seepage, or just one side or corner? Did you walk around the exterior and check the location of downspouts in relation to seepage? It's possible that a poorly placed or broken downspout poured water directly into the ground in one spout and super saturated the ground.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2008 at 4:33PM
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