My basement has one finished room, and this happens to be where water is coming in. Short of tearing down the drywall and uncovering what I'm sure is a mold fest, what are my best and most frugal options for fixing this? I've tried digging up spots around the foundation and patching what I thought were foundation cracks that might be a problem – but that didn't work, and now I'm at a loss. The Mrs. is against tearing her work space (the one fnished room) apart. I'm wondering if the concrete foundation gotten has old enough to become porous, and is letting water in? I feel should also mention that the yard surrounding the side of the house that leaks has a retaining wall, and it only leaks in the early spring with the thaw and heavy rain. The house is pushing 100 years old. I appreciate your time and consideration. Love the show, and though I don't catch it often, when I'm traveling I always look for it.
Let me sit down. Pretty much everything you need to do is everything you're not doing yet.
Okay, I'm seated. I hope you are, too. Let's dive in:
Your theory that concrete becomes more porous as time goes on? That's like the story of Paul Bunyan: A total tall tale. Your concrete's density today is the same as it was when a bulldozer pushed it into pile of rubble years back. That's not the issue.
You mentioned your retaining wall - now we're getting somewhere. Poor drainage is the underlying problem of almost all basement leaks, and one of the key solutions is keeping water from your foundation wall. Retainer walls can be especially helpful when gutters overflow. If they're not extended already, make sure to extend your gutters at least 4-6 feet from your home's foundation and let the retaining wall do its job.
This is going to be far more effective than what you've tried so far. As you learned, patching one spot at a time is like another old fable - the one of the little boy who sticks his finger in the dam to to keep water from flooding it. In other words, that solution's only gonna work for so long.
And the 'mold fest' you fear behind the drywall? Yeah, that's probably accurate. But pretending it's not there is only leads to the possibility of an unhealthy house. Show the Mrs. that link.
Good luck as you inprove your drainage. Oh, and you mention you only get to listen to Money Pit when you're traveling. Bring it to where you live by signing up for the Money Pit podcast for advice from Leslie and me when you want it, wherever you want it!