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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2007

    Default leaky foundation

    It seems as this is a common discussion. I have 120 year old victorian with 20" thick field stone foundation. There is one area where ground water is coming in when we have saturating rain. My gutters and downspouts do well and are not near this problem area, ground is graded fairly agressive in the area against foundation, I would rather stop the water outside rather than in, and am open to different ideas and not afraid of excavating if it will do the job. The ovrall site is fairly flat ground so if french drain is idea, where does it drain to? Is there a spray on rubber membrane to seal the stone below grade, outside? I have looked at sheet material, but with uneven stone surface that is not practical. Thanks
    Last edited by metalformer; 09-01-2007 at 07:20 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    near St. Paul, MN

    Default Re: leaky foundation

    You might consider having an exterior footing drain/French drain and/or an interior drain tile system and have them both drain to an interior sump basket. Then you could have a sump pump it out. The exterior drain system would stop the surface water from entering the basement. The interior drain tile system would handle ground water coming up from below.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    Default Re: leaky foundation


    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but yes, this sounds like it's going to require exterior excavation down to the base of the foundation, and the installation of a french drain.

    I DO NOT agree with the previous poster that the french drain should empty into a sump pump inside the foundation; this is just extra work & allows a path for water to enter the cellar.

    The logical approach is to keep as much water out of the basement as possible.

    The Popular Mechanics site below has a diagram of how the drain tile (which is a 4" perforated plastic pipe) is placed.

    The worst part of the job is, of course, digging the trench down to the base of the foundation; this is heavy work; if the design of the yard allows, a backhoe is brought in to ease the work required.

    It's unknown how easy or how hard the digging might be next to your foundation; each piece of property has its own characteristics.

    You may find easy digging all the way down, or you may hit very hard soil (hardpan) at say, 2 feet down; you'll then have to resort to pick & shovel work to remove the rest, which can be tough.

    If the trench is unstable, it has to be shored up with plywood forms & bracing to prevent a cave-in.

    Once exposed, the foundation is pressure cleaned with a water hose & allowed to dry.
    The trench is extended away from the foundation to an outfall (lower point, if there is one in the yard so the water has a place to go), or to a dug drywell, which is at a lower point than the drainpipe placed at the foundation.

    A drywell allows water collected along the base of the foundation to collect in the drywell & eventually soak harmlessly into the ground, 15' away from the foundation.

    The foundation wall is smeared with roofing cement (this is the consistency of soft margarine) with a stiff brush & then covered with 4 mil plastic sheeting.

    The bottom of the trench is covered with 12" of crushed stone; landscape fabric is placed over this to keep the fine dirt particles out of the drain.

    The trench is then backfilled.

    The sump in the PM diagram is installed ONLY if there continues to be a water leak problem into the basement.

    This is heavy work, but the materials cost is very low; perforated drain pipe, roofing cement, etc. are low-cost items, so it can be done as a diy project

    But the diy'r must not overdo it; work only 3 hours a day at excavating; that's plenty for one day; then quit.

    The job will get done before you know it.

    Last edited by JacktheShack; 09-03-2007 at 08:50 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    near St. Paul, MN

    Default Re: leaky foundation

    Ideally youíd have the French drain run to daylight. But metalformerís yard is flat so that apparently isnít an option. Iím not so sure a drywell is the best solution for a foundation drain. It would have to be so far underground to be lower than the foundation drain. What if there was a problem with it? It would be very hard to access.

    Either way, be aware that digging that deep is really not a DIY project unless you properly stabilize the soil in the trench and you really know what you are doing. People have been killed by trenches caving in on them. It can happen easier than you think. The guy I sit next to a work bought his house from the widow of a man killed by a trench cave in in his yard.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    Default Re: leaky foundation

    A sump pit is the way it is done around here. (mi)
    You wont pass your underground plumbing inspection without it. The perforated pipe is placed around the exterior with bleeders that run under the footings that are connected with solid pipe to the sump crock.

    There was a product that some builders used called "rubberwall" That was sprayed on and is a green color. I haven't seen it in several years so I don't know if it still exists. You could do the old tar standby or try the ugl drylok as a coating. I would do that in combo with the drain.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    Default Re: leaky foundation

    I prefer to let the original poster decide if "it's not really a diy project"; the poster in fact expressed a preference to "stop the water outside, rather than in", and was not "afraid of doing excavation, if necessary".

    Nor was there anything in my post to prohibit the poster from getting helpers to do the project, or for hiring a contractor.

    It's an awfully cheap shot to insinuate that someone "might be killed" after I explained the caveats and precautions needed to be taken on this project.

    using THAT logic we may as well close down the forum; anyone "could be killed" on a roof nailing shingles, or changing a light bulb or an electric receptacle.

    The idea of connecting a perimeter drain to an interior sump is absolutely ludicrous.

    This is a sop allowed in the code by many local jurisdictions to the homebuilders & real estate agents who don't want to spend the money to do the job right in the first place, so they cut corners by putting in a sump pump.

    You'd have to be a little loopy to buy a house in the first place if you see a sump pump in the cellar.

    Of course, an inside basement sump relieves these sharpies from any damage culpability if the pump fails, or is over whelmed (which happens often).

    It's the homeowner who suffers & pays the damage when the basement is flooded & the property insurance premiums go up.

    Though not specifically prohibited by the International Residental Code (it might hurt business), it has always been deeply frowned upon to connect the outside perimeter drain to any inside drains, or to an interior sump pump well.

    There are innumerable horror stories of basements flooding when there is loss of power to the sump (which happens often during a storm), or a soaking rain overwhelms the pump.

    A single 4" drain pipe can flush 300 gpm right into the cellar in a bad storm; often 2 or more 4" drains are connected in tandem; there's no way in the world a cellar sump is going to keep up, even if the power doesn't fail, or the pump performs flawlessly.

    The logical procedure is to keep the high-pressure storm water building up on the exterior foundation walls OUTSIDE the cellar & gravity feed it to a dry well or cistern, or outfall, whichever is avaiable.

    This also has the tendancy to save a lot on electric bills & increase the chances of selling the house when the time comes.

    if none of these options is available (highly unlikely), then an exterior electrically insulated sump is used on the EXTERIOR of the building.

    Don't take MY word for it--I've only been doing this work for the past 35 years & have done a lot of digging & trenching in all those years, installing 15 such perimeter drains and dry wells;I wonder how many SherryH has done lately.

    In addition, I have been contributing to these boards for many years.

    Warren Goodrich is chief Building, Plumbing and Electrical Inspector for the city of Indianapolis; his site below at Self Help and More covers this whole topic very well.

    Section 2000 IRC Part R405.1

    http://www.selfhelpforums.com/archiv...hp/t-7504.html http://rd.com/familyhandyman/content/18297/
    Last edited by JacktheShack; 09-04-2007 at 04:20 PM.

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