Irene is gone but left a wet basement

mamadesAugust 30, 2011

My house(25 yrs old) has never had water in the basement until Irene blew through this weekend. We also got significant flooding in our side yard from road run-off but 40-50 ft away from the house. We do not know what to do except call a professional in. This is our first experience with water in the basement. We did clean it all up and have a dehumidifier going now. We think the water was coming up from the ground and it pretty much stopped when the heavy rains did- we got about 2 inches. We couldnt identify where the water was coming in. The whole basement was already wet and water had seeped into our underhouse garage before we even thought to check since we never had water before but we have had hurricanes and significant rain in the past. There is a small hole ( 4-6" wide) in the cement floor near a wall( It has always been there since the house was built) that has some pipes going into it and it was also filled with water. My spouse is talking drains under the house,(Yikes) and I am thinking simple sump pump in case there is a next time. It may be important to note that 3 yrs ago we re-did our foundation plantings and this spring we put in a back patio but they were careful to slope it away from the foundation. We have gutters and we did notice the gutters were not holding the force of the water. I do not want to over-engineer the fix but I want to do it right so need advise before we call in the professionals so we have an idea and don't have to rely primarily on what they say. You guys on this House Forum have gotten us through many trials in the past so Thanks in advance for any advise you can offer us.

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I don't know about the cause of flooding in your basement hope someone can help you on that but to help keep basement from smelling moldy or getting moldy I would get a couple of fans going to move air around. If mold sets in you'll have a whole set of new problems, set fans up so they can't sit in water. My floor is concrete, no basement & my pipe behind tub leaked out on carpet, walked down hall 1 morning & got cold wet feet. So I took bunch of old towels & stomped on them to get the water in them & used tub to wring them out & did it over & over & then put fans in hall at each end for about a week 24 hrs a day & dried out & no smell & can't tell anything happened. Hope bad weather is over for you! Good Luck with others helping you out. Can save you a lot! Love these forums!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2011 at 7:41PM
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My community has experienced alot of basement flooding last summer and this. Each of the affected homes has has either sewage backup or clean water coming in. We have organized as a community to learn about local, state and federal options for permanent fixes...that is underway now.

Our house is 90+ years old. Our basement floor has cracks and there are a couple of spots where the wall meets the floor that ground water enters through. Fixes - make sure your downspouts lead far away from the foundation. We made sure all grading was downward sloping away from
the house. We also put in an overhead sewage system with pit and
ejector pump and that worked for us (no water this year). You can also go with a sump pump, you can go with a back flow preventer.

I absolutely recommend talking with your neighbors about what they have done/are doing. Get 5-6 plumbers in to talk about options. Learn about
the storm water system in your community - we found out that our old pipes simply aren't adequate for heavy rains and we learned that the fix we put in made the flooding situation worse for our next door neighbors.

Chances are, time is on your side right now. learn, learn, learn.

For cleanup now - wash everything down. If you have a carpeted basement, get a professional in to suck all the water out of it with heavy duty equipment. If you have wood framing and drywall, you are going to want to open the walls so the framing can dry out.

Yes, you can also go with French drains as your spouse suggests but they will not be places under the basement - they run along the side of the foundation.

Do not go with the first suggested solution. Learn about your house, your neighborhood and go from there. There is no "one size fits all" right solution. Each solution has a different cost as well. We spent slot last year, but it appears to have far.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 6:38AM
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You probably do not need to do anything.

It was a hurricane/tropical depression/ LARGE storm depending on your location.

If it took that much rain to cause a problem, how often do you think it is going to happen?

    Bookmark   September 2, 2011 at 1:40PM
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Well, last year we had a "once in a 100 yr storm". This year we had a "once in a 50 year storm"'. How often, you ask...

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 6:39AM
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Mamades, I would address the gutters first. Were they clean or were leaves etc blocking the water? Where does the water come out? If right next to the house, consider extending the gutters underground. You will need to dig a pit for each, fill with rocks, and then extend the gutter to the pit and cover the whole thing with dirt and lawn or plants. Be sure to keep it way inside your yard so you don't cause water problems for the neighbors.

If you can afford it, I would suggest having an engineer come in to determine the source of the leak. Get one that only does inspections, so that s/he will not be trying to sell you a specific remedy.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 8:30AM
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"Well, last year we had a "once in a 100 yr storm". This year we had a "once in a 50 year storm"'. How often, you ask..."

And you are unlikely to have another any time soon.

"Once in XX years..." does not say WHAT years.

I test satellite electronics for radiation susceptibility.

The ONLY answer we can usually give is an approximate time for an event to happen.

A million year event could be in the next minute.

It is not likely to occur again for another million years.
Of course if it destroyed your satellite that is a small consolation.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 12:33PM
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Thanx Everyone for the responses. We did get the gutters cleaned and they needed it. Hoping that was the issue. We will know if/when we have another major storm.
Now dealing with the new odor in my house that my spouse can't/won't smell. Floors are dry and I have had two dehumidifiers running, not filling up much now but the damp smell is still there. Worse in the garage. I guess I need to clean the floors which have never been sealed.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 11:55AM
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