wet basement! (again)

jessk1June 5, 2013

Hi all,

I live in west-central Minnesota, and am struggling with a wet/damp basement for the second year. I'm a new homeowner, and am at a loss! I'd love any and all suggestions...

Last spring, we had a lot of heavy rains, to which I discovered my finished basement had 2 wet rooms. (this was a bit baffling as the previous owners used one of those rooms as a master!) This was my first spring in the house. After talking with my inspector, who is also a general contractor, he had a few recommendations- one of which was to re-landscape around the house and replace the plastic that appeared to have pulled away from the house. I went this route, and it seemed to have fixed the wet basement issue.

Now, after another wet spring, I've found my basement has wet spots again. It's far, far drier than last spring, so the plastic/landscaping must have helped, but I have a few areas that are wet.

Any suggestions?? As mentioned above- the basement is finished, and 1/2 below ground. I'd hate to rip all the carpeting/drywall/etc. out to put in a sump pump, or something similar. One of my wet spots appears to be coming from 'behind' a bathroom, but I don't believe it's the shower leaking. The other spot is in the front corner of the house. My gutters seem to be working fine, downspout goes away from the house, no trees near that corner to gunk up the gutters...

Who should I call to check on this? General contractor? Get the landscapers back? Waterproof the concrete? Ugh! This is extremely frustrating, but I suppose part of the joys of home-ownership.

Thank you!

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How old is your house?

Do you know if it has any foundation drains? i.e. black plastic corrugated pipe laid in gravel outside the foundation. One or more pipes can usually be seen daylighting somewhere downhill of the house. Older houses often do not have them.

What kind of soil do you have? Sand, silt, clay?

Have you actually checked your gutters to make sure they are not clogged up?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 5:07PM
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The house was built in 1976.

No drains that I know of- and the landscapers didn't mention any last year when they came out last year (he would have, as the drainage tiles were an alternative suggestion of his as well).

Soil goes from black dirt in the front yard to sandy in the back, but mostly black dirt around the front of the house.

I haven't physically looked at the gutters in that specific corner, but all the gutters I can see are clear (I don't have a ladder tall enough). Part of the wet area is along the front of the house, which is not covered by gutters (I've attached a picture...wet corner is the one closest to use, along the driveway with the downspout)


    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 6:56PM
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Does that downspout terminate on the edge of the rocks? Is there plastic as a weed barrier under the rocks? could it be pooling on the plastic and making it's way back to your foundation?

Either way, I would make sure your gutters are clear (check them a few times a year) and extend that downspout further away from the house. You can do so by burying pipe that drains to a lower spot, or using any number of simple flexible extensions that lay on top of the lawn.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 11:31PM
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The downspout does end right at the edge of the rocks, and I've since purchased extenders to move the water further into the yard. The landscapers did re-grade some of the rock area, to build it up around the house and encourage water to flow away from the house. It's possible it's flowing towards the house still, but I'm hoping the landscapers did the job they were supposed to! :-)


    Bookmark   June 11, 2013 at 9:04AM
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You state that there is no perimeter drain around the foundation. Therefore, the rocks are the problem.

The rocks around the foundation are encouraging the water to drain into the basement. The top of the rocks are pretty much even with the grade of the surrounding soil. That means the soil under the rocks is lower than the yard. Even if there is plastic under the rocks, the whole design is basically a pool around the foundation. The rocks should be removed, and the soil graded properly, right up to the foundation. Then, lay some impermeable membrane over the properly sloped ground. Replace just enough of the rocks to hide the membrane.

This will take care of the problem.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2013 at 3:57PM
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That could be, it's hard to tell though from the photo. I think I can see some elevation drop from the house outward.

If it's not obvious you can use a level to find out...

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 5:19PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

+1 to the other suggestion.

More grading and better downspout routing.

Prepare to do some digging and bury some rigid 4" PVC to route all that water away.

Make sure the gutters are working 100% right as well and you are not getting any leaks or overshoot.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 8:47PM
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Those rocks sure look nice but is allowing drainage strait down to the foundation wall. The grade looks fine. Remove the permeable stone, all of it, and replace with less permeable soil and then sod. And get a ladder long enough to inspect gutters. I wouldn't personally want to be that high for any reason.

Looking closer, the gutters only cover a portion of the roof, why? All the water running off the roof and onto the garage is pouring down onto the same area creating a channel directly to your below grade foundation wall. That's another problem.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 12:02PM
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