LESLIE: Lorraine in Rhode Island listens in on WPRO and you’ve got a question about basements. What can we do for you?
LORRAINE: Yes, I’ve moved into a two-unit condo and the unit next to me gets a lot of water. But I don’t get that much water but it comes right up in the middle of the cement.
TOM: Does it happen, Lorraine, after you get heavy rain?
LORRAINE: Yeah, but there’s lots of water in the ground right here. Lots of water. It doesn’t drain.
TOM: Right. Well, this is the issue. This is a problem that’s originating because of surface drainage. In other words, the angle of the soil around your house is too flat. You’re getting runoff from the neighbor; your gutters are clogged. I don’t know what specifically is the cause but you have to improve the drainage. That’s going to be mission critical if you want to stop this from happening. Water is, you know, very tricky. It will sometimes push down around a foundation wall and show up as a geyser in the middle of the basement floor and really have you scratching your head as to what caused it. But it’s almost always caused by a surface drainage issue and you need to sort of attack it on the outside.
Now, you say that your neighbor’s house is not quite as bad as yours?
LORRAINE: Hers is worse. No, she gets a lot of water.
TOM: Alright, you need to get together and you need to do a couple of things. I would start outside.
LESLIE: Yeah, are there gutters on the house?
LORRAINE: There are gutters. This is an association run condo. So they’re on top of it. We’ve had the very best basement solver come in and they cannot figure out why it’s coming up in the middle of a basement.
LESLIE: Well, like Tom said, it’s just finding its way to the center of the floor. But what you want to do is the gutters that are on the house, make sure the association is on top of cleaning them and making sure that those downspouts are not clogged. Because a lot of the times you can snake the downspout and you’ll find that there are all sorts of weird things stuck in there that are just hindering the water fully moving through and then perhaps it’s overflowing somewhere or popping …
LORRAINE: Well, what would get into those spouts if there are no trees or anything around?
TOM: Oh gosh, all kinds of stuff.
LESLIE: All kinds of stuff. Because birds love to sit in there.
LESLIE: Birds might have built a nest.
LESLIE: Anything. And then also, you want to look at where the downspouts are located. You want to make sure that they’re not just sitting right next to your foundation wall. You want them to go away from the house …
LORRAINE: They are.
LESLIE: … as far as possible. They are right against it?
LORRAINE: Yes. That’s why they’re going to extend them for me.
TOM: Yeah, that’s …
LESLIE: That should do a huge amount of improvement.
TOM: You’d be amazed. That simple improvement will make a big difference. You know, a lot of people don’t get this, Leslie. It always surprises me. It’s kind of like – Lorraine, it’s kind of like – let’s say you have an infected toe, right? And the doctor says, “Well, I want you to take a pill for this, Lorraine.” And you go, “Well, but you don’t understand. It’s not my mouth that hurts, it’s my toe that hurts.” (Lorraine chuckles) It’s the same kind of thing, OK? Think of it as a circulatory system. You know, you’ve got to get that water under control because it affects everything around that house; on the side of it, underneath it, everything. You’ve got to get the water under control if you want your basement to be dry.
LORRAINE: Well, I thank you.
TOM: Simple as that.
LORRAINE: I listen to you all the time.
TOM: Well thank you very much, Lorraine.
LORRAINE: You’re great.
TOM: We appreciate it. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.