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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    3

    Default dry well overflow

    I bought a 1955 ranch house two years ago and I've had some basement flooding (usually in March/April) that I'm not sure how to resolve.

    The house has a one-car garage under the house; the basement door opens off the garage. The driveway angles down from the street into the garage, and at the base of the driveway there's a dry well -- about 6-8 ft deep and maybe 3-4 ft wide.

    When we get a heavy rain, the dry well overflows, floods the driveway, then the garage, and if it rains hard enough, it overflows into the basement.

    There's also a sump pit in the utility room -- about a 2x2 ft hole, maybe 18 in deep, lined with gravel. Ground water rises up in this pit and contributes to the basement flooding.

    We're able to get ahead of the flooding with portable sump pumps, but during heavy overnight rains, we end up with water in the basement.

    It seems pretty clear that I need a sump pump in the pit in the utility room, but I'm pretty baffled about what to do about the dry well problem. One plumber suggested that the dry well was old and probably had cracks and should be replaced. Pricey, and I'm wondering if that would actually solve the problem, or if I need to look at installing a sump pump in the garage, drilling a hole in the foundation somehow to make a pit for it. Or if there's some other solution.

    I'm not even sure what kind of contractor(s) I might need for this, and I'm hoping there might be some less expensive solutions than excavating the driveway.

    Any advice would be appreciated!
    Last edited by bosara; 03-14-2010 at 12:42 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: dry well overflow

    Bosara,

    Unfortunately what you describe is two problems. One where the water comes up through the sump hole and one where the water flows from the driveway to into the garage. The second one is a little simpler to correct and so I will tackle it first. Unfortunately you did not tell us any part of where you live and so I can't tell you how deep to make any of your holes.

    First make certain that the garage door seal is in contact with the concrete sill and in good condition. Next is the part for this where I would need to know where you live. You need to excavate a small part of the lowest part of your driveway. You want this area topped with a metal grate similar to a storm water grate. You want airspace under the metal of 4 to 12 inches depending on where you live. Then twice that airspace of large gravel under the airspace. The exact depth and length of this area depends on your average rainfall rate and your average annual rainfall. The width will be equal to your driveway.

    Now for the other part. How is the ground around your home situated? Is there one other side which tilts down to the home?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    3

    Unhappy Re: dry well overflow

    Thanks so much for responding.

    I live outside of Boston, in a residential area, on a hill that's about a 30-degree incline (so the right side of my yard is higher and slopes down toward the left).

    I think I know the drain you mean, along the width of the bottom of the driveway. Sounds like any way I go, there's an excavation involved!

    Part of the problem also seems to be the gutters all run toward the front of the house. A friend told me he thought it would make sense to redirect them so they're outputting elsewhere.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: dry well overflow

    Quote Originally Posted by bosara View Post
    Thanks so much for responding.

    I live outside of Boston, in a residential area, on a hill that's about a 30-degree incline (so the right side of my yard is higher and slopes down toward the left).

    I think I know the drain you mean, along the width of the bottom of the driveway. Sounds like any way I go, there's an excavation involved!

    Part of the problem also seems to be the gutters all run toward the front of the house. A friend told me he thought it would make sense to redirect them so they're outputting elsewhere.
    You're very welcome,

    Excavation yes but at least not the entire driveway as you were originally talking. Based on Boston's average rainfall coming in at just about 4"/month, but also the fact that Boston also has a history of hurricanes and tropical storms coming up the coast, not to mention the runoff from nor'easter (yes I grew up in part in your area). I'm sorry I've got to ask one more question, how long is the driveway that heads down into your garage?

    Your friend may be right but again I do not have enough information. Are the front and the back of your home equal in terms of level of soil? Also which side of the front is your downspout located? Basically you want the downspout to discharge at the lowest part of your yard at least 8' from your foundation. This means if the front of your yard is lower then the back then you want it coming out at the front left corner at least 8' from the foundation. If either the placement of the drain is in the wrong spot then you want to rerun the downspout and correct the slant of your gutters or doesn't go far enough from the foundation remedy those situations first and then monitor the situation in the basement. If it is solved with the driveway and the gutters you are done, congratulations.

    If not then I hope either you have experience operating heavy equipment or have a friend who does who you can lean on. Else this next step is going to cost you either a broken back or $40,000+. You want to excavate the right side of your foundation so that you go down about 4' below the foundation and about 15" wide. You want to fill in all but the top 4" with large coarse stones so that the water has a an easy path to flow down the remaining 4" you can fill back in with topsoil and your grass. May be worth renting a sod cutter before you start the excavation. Then do the same thing to the back of the house (assuming the driveway / garage are on the front of the house). The left side is most likely OK and if you can check your basement for water marks on the foundation wall I am willing to bet with a 30% grade the water is not coming in from the left.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: dry well overflow

    Also like where I live now (after retiring) your wettest months are October, November, December and January. I am surprised that you don't have flooding in those months. You second highest set is March into April. The only reason I can think of that you don't flood in the highest precip period is if it tends to fall as snow and melt slowly.

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