LESLIE: Albert in Utah has an interesting problem. You’ve got water in your crawl space? Isn’t it pretty dry there?
ALBERT: Yes, it is. I’ve got a older house. Well, older – was built in the mid-70s. Got a crawl space underneath it. I live near some fields and there’s a creek that runs by the (inaudible). Certain times of the year, I’ll get water sitting underneath the house down there.
TOM: Ah. You know, it’s interesting you say, Albert, that this only happens certain times of the year and you’re near a creek. Because you actually just described the symptoms of a high water table which is fairly unusual. Most people that have a water problem in there crawl space or their basement, it’s generally …
LESLIE: Think it’s a water table problem, but it never is.
TOM: Yeah, they always think it is but, right, it never is. Because usually it’s caused by poor drainage at the foundation perimeter. The gutter system being either disconnected or missing or the soil around the house being fairly flat. But if you’re getting sort of a water situation that develops just certain times of the year that doesn’t seem to be consistent with heavy rains, that, in fact, could be a water table problem. And if that is the case, really, the only way to deal with this is a subsurface drain system.
What has to happen is inside the crawl space – inside the foundation perimeter – it has to be trenched all around that inside wall. And then, you add some gravel rock and then you add a perforated pipe and more rock until it sort of covers the pipe. And then, that pipe all tilts down to a sump pit where you have a sump pump that pumps the water out. So what happens is as the water comes up, it fills up this pit and then it’s pumped out.
Generally, you don’t have to do that. But, in your case, it sounds like it might, in fact, be a high water table because you describe this as happening seasonally, certain times of the year. Typically, it’s worse, in my estimation, in the winter than in the summer. But it could change based on where you are in the country.
ALBERT: I could pretty much … you know, the water problem comes when my neighbor begins irrigating. So (chuckling) … and then it goes away when his crops dry out. So that’s ….
TOM: Well, you know what? If that’s the case, it may be that some of this is surface drainage related. Is his irrigation getting anywhere near your house?
ALBERT: No, it’s not … not getting close to the house at all.
TOM: Well, you know, who knows. Maybe it isn’t a rising water table. Maybe it’s like … his neighbor creating this water table. (laughing) The bottom line is that you can’t control it because it’s not around the foundation perimeter; it’s really coming through the ground and up. The only way to deal with that is with a curtain drain system, which is what we just described to you.
ALBERT: Okay. I’m going to give that a shot. That sounds like a good idea. But …
LESLIE: And he could … he could redirect the water to the neighbor’s crops.
TOM: Yeah, good point. (laughing) When it comes back out the sump, send it back to your neighbor.
ALBERT: There you go.
TOM: (chuckling) Alright. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Proving that even in the desert, it’s possible to have a leaking crawl space.