Wet Basements: No Need to Dig
LESLIE: Roger in North Carolina, tell us how we can help you.
ROGER: Yeah, I’m calling about a leak in my brother’s basement. We – he just moved into it up in Tennessee and right where the blocks meet the pad – the cement pad down in the basement –
ROGER: – it, when it rains real hard, it will just come in in a couple places. And I can see where somebody’s tried to mortar along; like make a seam along there.
ROGER: But it doesn’t seem to be working very well.
LESLIE: Well, that’s because even the mortar is hydroscopic so everything – you know, when the water builds up in the dirt surrounding the foundation, it just sucks it right in.
TOM: Yeah, the reason that it’s leaking in that area, Roger, is because – I’m speculating that this is a hollow block foundation wall. And typically, they build a footing and then they put the first couple of rows of concrete block on top of that and those are packed solid with mortar. And then the rows that are on top of that are hollow so the water gets into the hollow block, falls down until it hits the solid block and then starts to leak out. The secret here is to stop the water from getting there in the first place and to do that you need to address the grading and the drainage at the outside of the house.
ROGER: Ah. So you don’t actually have to dig down alongside those blocks and …
LESLIE: Oh, no, no, no.
TOM: Absolutely not.
LESLIE: No. Tell your brother, tell him out in Tennessee, tell him to make sure that there’s gutters on the house. Make sure there’s a sufficient amount of gutters for the size of house and make sure that there’s enough downspouts also for the size of house. And if there are already gutters, make sure they’re clean and operating smoothly and everything’s flowing nice out of them. And you want to maintain that. Keep them clean all year long. If you’re tired of cleaning them up, go ahead and put some sort of gutter cover on top of them so you don’t have to do it as often.
Make sure that your downspouts are away from the house. You don’t want any water deposited right against the foundation. And make sure that all of the dirt, the grading, slopes away from the house. You don’t need to dig up anything.
ROGER: OK, so just channel the water that’s hitting the ground, try to channel it around and away from the house.
TOM: That’s right. Manage the water. That’s right.
Roger, go to our website at MoneyPit.com and search on wet basements. You’ll find detailed articles there on how to deal with this.
ROGER: I sure will.
TOM: Roger, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.