Wet Basement Solution: Outside Drainage
LESLIE: Josh in Pennsylvania is calling about a foundation. What can we do for you?
JOSH: I own a home. It’s over 100 years old. I recently bought the home; I’d say, within the year.
JOSH: And it has a stone foundation that takes on some water. The whole basement does not flood. It’s almost like it’s concaved on one side where it leaks in a little bit and runs down into a hole where there’s a sump pump.
JOSH: I guess my question is: one, I had it quoted to get it “repaired.” Their definition of repaired was dig up the cement there; put a drain under it.
JOSH: Or two, just get cement and smooth over the whole basement and just clean up the walls with cement, pretty much.
TOM: Yeah, and neither of those solutions will work. OK? You know, just the other day, we had a call from a writer at the New York Times that had this exact same question for an article that she was working on and I’ll tell you exactly what we told her. You almost never, ever need to install an underground drainage system like that.
TOM: And in fact, doing so does not stop the walls from getting wet; will not protect the walls from caving in. Because the water collecting outside those walls will remain whether or not you collect it on the inside or not. And especially when you have a solid wall, there’s going to be no relief in pressure whatsoever. So the solution is how do we stop the walls from leaking without tearing up the inside of the house. The question is how do we stop the walls from leaking without tearing up the inside of the house and the answer to that is outside drainage, outside drainage and outside drainage.
Look at the gutter system. If you don’t have one, get one. Make sure it’s clean, free-flowing, the downspouts are extended four to six feet away from the foundation perimeter, and look at the angle of the soil around the house. It’s probably flat. It’s probably settled over the years. Add clean fill dirt – not topsoil; clean fill dirt. Tamp it down, pack it down. Should drop about six inches over four feet. And those two things alone will solve 95 percent of all wet basement problems.
JOSH: OK. Wonderful. I appreciate both of your help. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.