LESLIE: Cheryl in Michigan is dealing with a leaky basement. Tell us what’s going on.
CHERYL: I live in a home that was built in the 70s and the hole that brings the well water into the house, it used to leak a little bit for many years and then I pulled out what I thought was greasy stuff and I guess it must have been the beeswax that you would use on a toilet seal.
TOM: (chuckling) OK.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Mm-hmm.
CHERYL: And I had the well people out and they said, "No, no, use this foam …" They put that foam expander in which didn’t help at all. Now when it rains, it really pours into the basement.
TOM: Yeah. Alright, well this is an easy problem to fix. First of all, wherever the pipe comes through the wall, I mean that just becomes the point of least resistance and that’s why, when you broke the seal around the well pipe when it happened to come in, water is just continuing to find that space. But the overall issue is that you have a lot of water in the ground right outside that and if you can address reducing that water, then that will solve this problem.
So the way you do that, Cheryl, is by looking at the grading – that’s the angle of the soil around the foundation at that area; and then secondly, the gutters – making sure they’re clean, they’re free-flowing and they discharge water away from the house. Because as you said, when it rains it leaks. So if we can manage the water outside and perhaps seal around that pipe a little bit better – I wouldn’t necessarily use an expandable foam insulation; I’d probably use something like silicone caulk or a urethane sealant – that would solve it.
LESLIE: Because the expandable foam really doesn’t stop water infiltration, right?
TOM: No, it doesn’t.
LESLIE: It’s more like air leaks.
CHERYL: Yeah, that’s what I thought but she said, "No, this will take care of it," and she (sound effect).
LESLIE: Well, it looks effective; it’s not. (chuckles) And you know what else you want to do, Cheryl, is make sure you don’t have any gardens or flowerbeds that are right up against the foundation that maybe have stone walls that sort of keep that water sitting right in there. And when Tom said the grading, you want to make sure it slopes away from the house. Those are really simple steps that can be hugely impactful if one of those is the problem.
TOM: You can’t be like the little Dutch boy that put his finger in the dike, OK?
TOM: That’s what you’re doing by sealing that up. You’ve got to stop the water.
CHERYL: OK. Very good. Thank you so much.
TOM: Cheryl, I hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.