LESLIE: Next up, Bob in California has a leaky basement.
Bob, what happened?
BOB: One side of the house is actually flat rock which is going to be finished. Water is leaking into that area from the other side of the cinder block. Now the other side of the cinder block is actually not dug out; partially it is dug out.
TOM: Alright, let me stop you from your detailed description which is good. I have one question for you. Does it leak when it rains or after a rainfall?
BOB: It does leak when it rains.
TOM: OK. So it doesn’t matter how this house is built on the outside. The secret here is going to lie in trying to keep the rainwater away from the house. There’s two approaches to controlling a leaky basement. The first one is to seal the basement inside, to seal the basement outside, and hope that somehow – hope against hope your house will float before it leaks. It’s not going to happen.
If you want to stop the house from leaking, you’ve got to control the water flow on the outside. So that means doing everything that you possibly can to control the water around the foundation perimeter by improving the grading, if that’s possible in this scenario, to keep the soil sloping away from the walls. Most importantly, do you have a gutter system on this house?
BOB: Yeah. By listening to your show, I have, the gutters that’s coming down, I diverted the water away from the house.
TOM: Did that help?
BOB: It does help.
TOM: I would think that it does.
BOB: It does. But the main problem is the other half of the basement is kind of rock. The water comes through the veins of the rock itself.
TOM: Right, but it’s got to be sourcing somewhere on top. Now is the water going down the hill towards your house?
BOB: It does but it comes right through the middle of the rock; the veins of the rock. I can open up the door and look in the other side of the basement and see the water actually coming out through the veins of the rock.
TOM: Right. Well, right. Because you’re seeing it come through the rock very visibly there but I mean if the rock wasn’t there, it’d be coming through the soil. But again, it has to do with you catching that water on the outside so it doesn’t come through there.
Now is it possible to do anything else to the exterior of your house to direct water around it? Can you add a curtain drain that would accept water running down a hill towards it and divert it around it? Is the gutter system – I know you said it’s clean – is it properly sized so that there’s no overflowing of that gutter even in torrential downpour? Are you taking all those steps that you possibly can to keep water away from the house? Because if you keep the water away from the foundation, it’s not going to have anywhere to go.
BOB: The gutter is properly sized. I do have it going away from all sides of the house. You know, it’s not coming under the cinder block. It must be an area somewhere in the lawn where there’s a break in the rock. Because I’m right on a rock foundation and the water is running into the crack or the crevices or whatever and coming through the rock into that side of the basement, which is like two or three feet …
TOM: The problem is you’re never going to be able to seal this basement from the inside so well that the water is not going to be able to find it’s way through. It will always find its way through. If you want to keep the basement dry, you’ve got to stop the water from getting there in the first place. That’s the solution. It may not be the solution you want to hear but that is the solution. If you can’t stop the water from getting to that rock, you’re not going to stop it from getting through the rock and into the basement no matter what you put inside that house.
The only thing else you can do is let the water come through, put in a curtain drain in the inside foundation perimeter where the floor is broken out, and you put in crushed gravel and a perforated pipe; let that water come through, fall into the trench, fill up the pipe, run over to a sump and be pumped out. But I absolutely hate to recommend that because it’s expensive; unless and until you do everything on the outside that you possibly can to keep the water away from it.
BOB: That’s what I thought I was going to get to. You answered my question.
TOM: Alright, terrific.
BOB: Yeah, I wanted to check with you first.
TOM: I’m just trying to save you money here, Bob. I don’t want you to spend it until you absolutely have to.
TOM: Send us some photos if you want. You can email them to [email protected]. Let me take a look at the outside of your house. There may be some other area that’s contributing to that that you’re just not seeing and we’d be happy to take a look at it that way.
Bob, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.