Flooded Basement: Keep Water Away From Foundation
LESLIE: Keith in Pennsylvania is dealing with a leak. Tell us about it.
KEITH: I have a probably 18-year-old home – Colonial home – that has a precast stair – I guess you call them steps – to go into the basement that are pretty typical of many homes that have basements. And I guess when they install those, they have a seal that’s installed from the manufacturer. So what I believe, over those 18 years, that may have deteriorated and we – now we have a leak and it goes in the basement and it’s not major but we get about – the last rain that came down very hard, within maybe 8 hours we got about 10 gallons of water.
And this comes from a small area at the bottom of the precast stairs at the foundation. I just want to know how to remedy that. I have the – started to dig out from the exterior but that’s 7 feet that I have to dig to get to the bottom and I’m thinking either – should I have an excavator come in and dig out that area to get to the bottom of the steps or should I seal it from the inside?
TOM: I think you’re working way too hard, my friend.
KEITH: Hmm. Bad luck for that.
TOM: This is a – yeah. This is a situation that whenever you say that it happens consistent with rainfall, that you can deal with it at the top of the surface, not the bottom. It’s not like you’re going to make it float, you know what I mean?
So what I want you to do is to look at two things. Number one, track the drainage of water off the roof to make sure that you’re not dumping any water in and around that foundation. If you are, extend the downspouts well past it, even if you have to use over-ground downspouts. Get it out 4 to 6 feet past the area that’s leaking.
And the second thing is take a look at the slope at the foundation perimeter and make sure that it’s all sloping away from the walls. So, away from – well, away from the walls. If you need to add more soil, do not add topsoil; add clean fill dirt because you can pack that kind of dirt down really well and it’s not as organic. Then you can put a little grass on top of that or stone or mulch.
But those two things – maintaining that water around the outside; making sure the water moves around from the – away from the house – that’ll stop the leak. So you don’t have to dig down and try to patch it that way.
KEITH: So fill dirt, like maybe – like just like a – not a topsoil, just a …
TOM: Clean fill, yeah. It kind of looks like a baseball pitcher’s mound.
TOM: It’s usually brown and rich like that and it tamps and packs really well.
KEITH: OK. So nothing – but not topsoil, you were saying?
TOM: Not topsoil. The topsoil is very organic; it’s like laying sponges around the house.
KEITH: Oh, OK. Alright. Sounds like a good plan to me and I will give that a shot.