Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Avant Moi, Le Déluge

...Though I don't think French "avant" supports both English meanings of "before." (or does it? Ah, the perils of an incomplete education). This deluge is more "below" as I sit and type.

"Welcome to Roseholme. Have you rainboots?" The [deleted][unbranching family tree][censored] [an act illegal in seven states] basement is leaking. Friday's sewer backup had been accompanied by some water leakage but what I'm getting now is far more intense. Of course the floor's not quite level, so puddles linger.

The floor had a lovely fresh paint job when first I saw it, about this time last year. I should have been suspicious then but was I? Not nearly enough! Old cracks have opened up and widened; at several points, tiny little fairy springs, streams of water no larger than a pencil lead, arc gracefully from the floor to a quarter-inch in height at apex and they do not look to be stopping any time soon. They'd be cute as can be in a garden water feature, but not in my basement! There's a consistent 1/8 to 1/4 inch of water on 75% of the floor. The drain is working, at least so far. The floor paint is bubbling a bit where water's forcing it up from below.

This is easily the worst post-rain leakage and it's singularly undelightful. Having a usable basement is part of what makes Roseholme work for two grrrl-geeks* of varied and wide interest: that's my radio shack, tube-type amateur gear storage, and my radio, leather and light woodworking shop down there. Most of my tools are in the basement. I can't have it leaking.

The humidifier's whirring away, at least, and I have things as well up off the floor as I can presently manage. But, friends, somewhere I've gotta find a reputable contractor and the funds t'pay him. Bedarned if I know where.
* Tam's gonna ask, "There's more than one geek here?" Look in the mirror, roomie; embrace your geekitude! ;>


Rob K said...

Here's what I'm planning to do with my swimming pool-er-basement. Just gotta' gather the time/money.

KurtP said...

Are y'all renting or do you own it?
I'm wondering because that'll be *really* expensive to fix right.

Roberta X said...

I know it will be, Kurt. I bought the place about a year ago and I'm kind of stuck here.

Aaron said...

If the previous owner signed a statement (can't remember what it's called) saying that there were no major problems that he knew of when he sold it to you, you could fairly easily make a case that he lied and he'd be liable for the repair cost. Of course, I have no idea how real estate sales work in other states.

Anonymous said...

Foam rope to stuff into the cracks stuff it in with a putty knife then use a self leveling siocone to fill the cracks if the crack is to thin for the foam rope just use the silicone this only works on the floor as the self leveling silicone will run out hope this helps. By the way I have had poor result with hydrolic concreate and don't recomend it

Anonymous said...

OOPs I ment to say the silicone will run out of vertical cracks on the wall use the regular silicone on walls

Dr. StrangeGun said...

Save up some money and call a company like B-Dry, it's what I'm going to end up doing.

The note about lawyering up due to previous owners misrepresenting the property is apt as well. I knew about mine; but I also paid about 2/3 of what them market value of the property was as well. Hell, I'm still ahead, even in a depressed market.

Anonymous said...

Leaky basements are hard to fix from the inside if you have water under pressure trying to get in. One basic principle in most fixes is to keep water away as much as possible from basement walls. Make sure gutters and downspouts are working correctly (not plugged, etc.) and that they discharge water away from the house. Slope ground adjacent to top of basement walls away from house so water will not build up against walls and under floor slab. These steps alone can make a significant difference.
With geysers springing from the cracks in your basement floor you apparently are getting a significant amount of water under pressure beneath the floor. If the house is in a low area that doesn't drain well or has a high water table (even temporarily from a storm), then sloping the ground and directing water collected from the roof away won't completely solve the problem. A house should have a perimeter footing drain that takes care of any water reaching it but if your house has one, it isn't doing what it's supposed to do. If the footing drain isn't able to drain water under the slab because the soil isn't porus enough, pressure may build up under the floor in the way you describe. If the footing drain exists you might be able to relieve the problem by digging under the footing and filling in a few places around the perimeter with gravel providing a path for water to get under the footing and keep it from acting as an upside down dam. This fix of course isn't easy and involves sawing through the floor in 3 or four places, digging a tunnel under the footing, to the drain (or until you see the gravel that should be around the drain), backfilling with gravel, and placing a concrete patch over hole.
Another option for relieving the pressure under the slab is sawing through the floor, digging a sump, installing a sump pump, and constructing a sump cover.
Be sure to check the easy(ier) fixes first (gutters, etc.).
I agree with aaron about the previous owner's non-disclosure maybe leaving him with some liability for the fix but I'm no lawyer. (See Marko's roof problems last winter in NH.)

phlegmfatale said...

Aw, crap. I'm sorry y'all are having to deal with such aftermath. Keep buying that bleach.

Anonymous said...

I'd say you definitely have a case against the seller. He not only didn't disclose the problem but actively hide any evidence of a problem. Take the repair costs out of his hide.

Anonymous said...

I'd start with a sump and sump pump (or maybe two in different basement locations). You'll also need to install a pipe or hose to remove the pumped water. The only problem is that you sometimes lose electrical power when you need the pump the most.

Turk Turon said...

Geez, Roberta, it's awful that you're having to deal with this.

Look over the folder of papers you got at closing. There may be some kind of guarantee in there that the seller paid for.

One thing I don't understand, though, is how you can have these little springs popping up through the floor and yet the drain still works. Sounds like there must be some sort of sump underneath the drain.

Balhincher's advise sounds good. I have also had good luck with just using 6-inch corrugated plastic pipe to carry rainwater away from the downspouts; it made a noticeable difference in my basement.

Anonymous said...

I have extensive personal experience with this issue. I have done inner and outer footing drains, and they are both a LOT of work, but if done correctly can save you all that agrrivation.Both items can be DIYS. They neither require huge muscles nor huge intellects, just time, and maybe a little help from your friends. If you'd like I'd be pleased to look and reccomend solutions that you can do yourself inexpensively.

Anonymous said...

Dang silly city slickers, got'em a cold spring running right in the house and they wants to plug it up.

Anonymous said...

I think the phrase you are looking for is : "en face de moi".