Water in basement... baffled... seems plumbing related

zuikoNovember 15, 2013

I have had a problem for several months with a ton of water in the basement... I think I finally narrowed it down to a plumbing issue as it was perfectly dry and then I ran a load of dishes through the dishwasher on a perfectly dry day and I have at least 30 gallons on my basement floor. The problem is I have never seen any leaks anywhere... there is no evidence of any drain lines leaking. I pulled out the dishwasher and it is dry underneath.

This is a house with a full basement all the plumbing pretty much is in the floor joist cavities 8 feet above the basement floor and totally exposed... so any leak there should be fairly loud and obvious. The septic line exit and cleanout is also a couple feet above the floor.

There is one drain in the floor and a sink that doesn't get used very much, but it must be plumbed differently as it obviously doesn't go out with the rest of the waste water... I'm assuming that connects in the yard 8' underground to the septic line further down the time. The water doesn't seem to be coming in through there anyway as the area is recessed a bit, dry, and on the other side of the house from where all the water is showing up.

Any ideas on how to find this? It is driving me crazy. I don't really want to pay a plumber just to stand around and be as baffled as I am... and I don't know what a plumber would do other than run the taps and look for leaks (which he won't find). I even filled the kitchen sink completely with water and let it all go at once, thinking maybe you just need a lot of volume to trigger it. I saw and heard nothing in the basement.

The only thing I can think is it is coming up through the (concrete poured) floor or where the floor meets the (block) walls... but it sure is coming in fast for that. And there's no swamp outside or any evidence of water pooling around the house... The septic also goes out the back of the house and all the water is in the front.

The water in the basement does not stink at all. It seems perfectly clean. Like a supply leak (except the supply lines would be pressurized all the time and it doesn't happen all the time so I have pretty much ruled that out on that basis). Any ideas?

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Run the DW and go into the basement and wait.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2013 at 9:26AM
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You should have footer drains leading to a sump pump. Does the sump work? Also, since you have septic, in many areas, the washer drains into a sink, then into the sump instead of septic. I'd check that area first.

A dishwasher uses roughly 8-10 gallons. Depending on the washing machine, could use 35 gallons.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2013 at 7:58PM
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30 gallons is a lot of water, not likely from one load dishes.

Does the water smell like waste water?

If youâÂÂre on a municipal water system perhaps the line is leaking. Water could be seeping through the floor or walls. Check around and see if soil is wet around the house.

Zuiko, when you resolve this issue donâÂÂt be like so many posters, return and let us know what you found.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 11:28AM
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There are no sumps.

Everything in the house goes into the septic. There is no separate gray water discharge.

No municipal water. The well doesn't run all the time (and the water is not always present anyway). Soil is not wet (but the basement floor is also over 6 feet below grade).

The water does not smell.

I have run a load of laundry and waited but it wasn't completely dry before I started and nothing was coming from the plumbing above. There was nothing to see or hear.

I am starting to wonder about the drain line from the floor drain to the septic... if a high volume of water was being discharged towards the tank and it backed up into that (no idea how it is connected to the septic... only that it must be connected in the yard somewhere and not through the main line). Say water backed up into that line but and it were compromised... wonder if it could go under the basement floor and pop up in another part of the basement. The line is iron and probably 45 years old.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 12:54AM
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Have you had your septic pumped in the last few years or so? If not, do so then see if it still happens. Years ago before we had new sewer infrastructure installed in our neighborhood my house was on a septic tank and there was a sump in the yard that pumped the effluent out to a drain field. My pump failed and I didn't know it. A flush or a quick shower somehow managed to flow on its own but a large amount of water like from a washer draining was too much for it without the pump and since the water couldn't get out to the drain field it went the path of least resistance, right up through the floor drain into the basement as fast as it came out of the washer. So if you don't have a sump then the next logical thing is that there is no room in your tank to handle the influx of water and it is taking the path of least resistance, the floor drain.

ETA: Don't know why but I got the idea you had a septic tank. If that is not the case I apologize. However, the same thing could be happening if you're on city sewage and there is some sort of blockage (ie. roots) in your lateral line to the main sewage line. Small amounts of water may be able to seep through but a large influx at once would back up and come up the floor drain.

This post was edited by jackieblue on Sat, Nov 23, 13 at 11:30

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 2:05AM
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