Minor leak around main water pipe in stone basement: Worth excavating and patching?
In January we moved into a 1905 Colonial that has been well maintained and updated through the years. The foundation is stone and mortar. The interior of the basement has some sort of paint on the walls and floors and a new, fully functional sump pump installed. The home inspection was done on a rainy day and there was no evidence of water intrusion.
We have not seen one single drop anywhere down there since then until we got hit with an especially hard rainy season that started with a long day or 2 of continuous, heavy rain in late May. Initially it looked like the main waterpipe was leaking but we came to find out it was water from outside that was making its way along the pipe and trickling past it into the basement. I haven't found water coming in anywhere else down there aside from that and it was only a small but continuous trickle.
After that first day of rain I did some investigating outside and found a couple of possible problems. First, the PVC pipe for the sump pump discharge comes out the side of the house, comes to the front, turns around the front corner of the enclosed porch, then slopes down and discharges the water right in front of the lattice door that blocks the crawl space underneath the porch. Second, the downspout pipe right next to that discharge point just had the 45 degree elbow with a splash block on it that probably only got the water a couple feet from the house. Both are in the general area over where the buried pipe probably runs. The way its designed is that the main foundation wall is actually about 5 or 6 feet back from the front wall of the porch, which is supported by a beams at all four corners and poured concrete by the steps. The previous owners probably figured because there was that much separation between the front of the porch and main foundation wall that there was no way all that water could be doing any harm coming out where it was. However, the yard didn't really start to slope away until a few feet away from the porch. My theory was that with time all that water had over saturated and softened the nearby soil through previous rains and was making its way down to the main water pipe then back into the foundation.
So I went ahead and extended that downspout by 3 or 4 feet and also tweaked the elbow in the PVC pipe for the sump pump so the water shoots further away from the house. Now in heavy rain I can see it drain through the lawn and seep out onto the concrete down by the street. I could also swear that the sump pump discharges less frequently on dry days. And I have not seen water come out of that hole since the first day that it happened over a month ago, and we have had a long stretch of heavy rainstorms since then.
My question is what do I do from here. Initially I had a strong feeling that more work needed to be done to patch problem areas in the wall around that pipe to prevent further deterioration. A couple companies quoted me about 1000 dollars for the same work: Excavating to the bottom of the wall, patching around that pipe with either epoxy or hydraulic cement, going over that with some sort of tar, than doing a plastic watertight membrane over all that. Both said my basement otherwise looks great and did not recommend doing anything else to it since there were no other apparent problem areas. Both assured me this is a permanent repair and that I would not have to worry about that section of wall again. The wife thinks I am over-reacting to a minor leak that doesn't even seem to be an issue anymore. Now I am doing some research and seeing that alot of people advise against messing with the soil around older stone walls, suggesting its best to leave that dirt undisturbed and concentrate on drains, re-grading, gutters, and downspouts. But I can't help but think to prevent further problems there needs to be something done to repair and seal the area around the pipe.
I have bought in a larger, very reputable local company with branches that do masonry and basement waterproofing and scheduled them to excavate and do the necessary repairs at the end of the month, but am now having second thoughts.
Opinions would be appreciated. If there are any negative side effects from getting this work done after my wife tried to talk me out of it I will probably never hear the end of it.
Last edited by eman; 07-01-2013 at 03:29 PM.
Re: Minor leak around main water pipe in stone basement: Worth excavating and patchin
Listen to your wife.
Wives know stuff without knowing the technical details. Not always, but very often.