LESLIE: Dennis in Illinois has a question about basement drainage. What can we do for you today?
DENNIS: I bought some waterproof paint for the wall but just in case it’s coming up from the crack between the floor and the wall …
DENNIS: … I’m thinking about cutting like a one-inch-wide or less groove around the base of the wall so it will drain to another drain in the basement and I was wondering if there was something I could use to do that.
TOM: Well Dennis, let’s back up for a minute. Does your basement seem to flood after heavy rainfalls?
DENNIS: Yes, sir.
TOM: OK. Well, the solution here is not putting holes in your floor.
LESLIE: Not a moat in the basement.
TOM: No, the moat idea is out. Here’s the order of events. First of all, we want to make sure that the gutter system is absolutely guaranteed to be clean. It would be good if you flushed each downspout and confirmed that there’s no leakage and that the water is extended out away from the house. Secondly, I’d like to see you improve the drainage so there’s no flat soil against the walls. Thirdly, you’re going to want to add a dehumidifier to the basement to accept (ph) moisture that evaporates from those walls. Putting the paint on the walls, the damp-proofing paint, is a good thing and it does cut down on some of the evaporation.
If those three things together are not working and you’re still having water, I would recommend, before you do any demolition of the floor, that you hire a professional home inspector to do an inspection of that house and see if they can spot something else that’s leading to water infiltration. Because many times there is some element of that outside drainage that’s just not working right and is allowing that water to get into the basement. And after that, we’re talking about pretty expensive repair work here. So I’d like to make absolutely sure that we’re doing all the basic things right.
I can tell you in the 20 years I spent as a home inspector, Dennis, 9 out of 10 times we can solve wet basement problems just by fixing the drainage outside. So I want to make sure that yours is absolutely letter perfect before we recommend anything more dramatic than fixing your gutters. OK?
DENNIS: Very good.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.