LESLIE: Jim in Indiana, you’re on the line. What can we do for you?
JIM: Yeah, I’ve got a house that’s got a leaky basement. I mean it’s like almost a river flowing across it. I’ve got a sump pump in it that pumps all the time. I was wondering if there was any way to keep it from, you know – would it be best to dig the dirt all the way from the outside of the basement to some kind of a membrane on it or something like that to stop it?
TOM: Probably not, Jim. Does it get worse when you have heavy rain?
JIM: All the time the same.
TOM: Well, if it leaks all the time and it doesn’t get any worse with a heavy rain, then and only then it might be a rising water table. And that’s a rare situation, Jim; it doesn’t happen very often. Most of the time you can control or reduce water flow into a basement by improving the grading and the drainage around the foundation perimeter. But if the sump pump is running all the time – it’s truly running all the time – and it does not get worse when you have heavy rainfalls, you could have a high water table.
In a situation like that, then you have to put in a sub-slab surface drainage system. There’s two ways you can do that: either inside the house, by breaking up the concrete on the inside perimeter; or digging around the outside of the house, getting down below the floor level and putting in a perforated pipe which is covered by stone and basically leads to either an area that’s lower with gravity so the water can run off or leads to a pumping system and carts it away.
But before you do that, Jim, I do think it’s a good idea for you – just in case this is not – it’s not a rising water table – for you to address all of the exterior drainage conditions first. That includes making sure your gutters are clean, your downspouts are extended four to six feet away from the house and that all the soil on the foundation perimeter slopes away from the house. If all of those things are letter perfect and you still have the problem, then you could look at some of the more drastic ways to get rid of water in the basement that involve excavation.
Jim, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.