Saturday, March 05, 2011


There's 2" of water in the basement at Roseholme! I can't tell if it is rising, falling or staying steady.

The floor was dry when I went to bed last night. And -- what a coincidence! -- we had over 2" of rain last night.

So much for the neighborhood storm drain/sewer improvements after our last flood several years ago: this does not appear to be coming up the floor drain, but it's not going down it, either.


1. Bought a sump pump, check valve, hose (yeah, boys, with Cuban heels and a seam up the back and no photos of me modeling them. Suffer) and got the water down to "mostly just wet." Yay, hooray!

2. An hour later, back to a rising sheen of water. It's oozing up through the floor and along the walls. Once again, Roseholme has been set afloat! Cue rats. (Leaving). So the pump's gonna have to be run every couple of hours until the groundwater level drops.

It occurs to me I should ditch the whole "basement" concept and just jack the house up, have one or more barge hulls installed under it, and bolt it back down on 'em: instant earthbound houseboat! Maybe I can pick up a nice marine diesel engine to run a generator with while I'm at it. Or a steam engine. You can still buy coal, right?


Home on the Range said...

Not good. Looking at the radar it looks as if most of it has passed. Call if you need the truck to move anything out to store (mylittle barn is always available).

Anonymous said...

Activating your EPIRB yet?


John Peddie (Toronto) said...

Rain in late winter, falling on frozen ground, can't be absorbed and flow naturally down to the water table.

Basically pee on a plate, and goes where it wants, horizontally...til it finds a basement wall, where the warmth from the building has kept the earth unfrozen all winter.

Down she goes towards the water table, and finding any crack to seep through and into the basement!

May also back up and flood if street drain grates at curb are plugged (ice, last fall's leaves).

Might want to check for obstructed drain grates near front of house.

Roberta X said...

Thinkin' about it.

ZerCool said...

Do you have one of those handy submersible sump pumps? (And a sump to place it in?) If not, the pump is the best $50 insurance you will ever buy.

BGMiller said...

Go out to Lowes.
They sell a Shop-Vac that has a built in water pump.
Attach a hose, plug in the supplied filter, and pump out the wet. The rest of the time it's a perfectly useful vacuum that accepts all 2 1/2" accessories. A really practical choice if flooding is only an occasional concern. I'm sure you are more than capable of constructing a circuit to detect water and power up the vac/pump.

Just a thought.


Anonymous said...

(Roberta X on Tam's computer, as mine is running a m@lw4r3 scan). Bought a sump pump; I own four vacuums already (hand vac, upright, and two small shop-type vacs), so one of the last two will do for later-stage cleanup. Just ate (yech, drive-through food) and now I'm off to commit plumbing.

og said...

My house in Highland used to flood- if i Didn't obstruct the drain gate in front of the house.

With a car floor mat and a brick, I could make the standing water in the front street go down slowly enough that the water never came into the basement drains. It worked fine.

If the culprit is drainage coming down the outside walls, you can confirm it by squirting a bit of olive oil along the edge of the house. If you see oil slicks on the water in the basement, your footing drains are clogged or nonexistent. In any event, it seems as if the immediate danger is over, but rains will come again.
Doing interior footing drains in a basement is a homeowner DIY. It's a damned tough one, but it can be done with few tools and lots of elbow grease, and you can do it in winter when the chance of flooding is very slim.

I've done it to two homes myself, with only a $7 diamond saw blade in my circular saw, a sledgehammer, and a pick and shovel.

The house in Cedar Lake had a floor drain, and sometimes the water in that would back up into the basement, but only a foot deep. With a 3' tall standpipe screwwed into the drain, we ended up with a dry basement and a foot of water in the standpipe.

Having been through wet basements quite a few times myself, I definitely empathise.

North said...

I'm so sorry to hear this. Would put on boots for you and help bail if I were there.

I hope that this comes out OK and that the damage is minimal.

Roberta X said...

I have bought a tiny sump pump, a check valve (despite claims on the box "Complete! Ready To Go!" this portable, light-duty pump has no check valve) and 48' of flexible hose and it has made substantial inroads into the basement water; at this point, all but the lowest part of the floor is merely wet. Bad news is that it is still coming in.

Since I'm getting (smaller amounts of) water in the basement other times and it does come in along the walls, I know that's an issue; but the first heavy rain of the year backed up the floor drain into the basement, too. (Not much and mostly from the shower and dishwasher).

So it's both, compounded by a water table that is higher than my basement floor when the rain is heavy enough. I suspect a sump would only be a better point of entry for the water!

og said...

You can dig up the walls. I've done that, too, to my parents house. A skilled operator with a small trackhoe could denude the basement walls of Roseholme in an afternoon, and then it's just a matter of sealing the walls, putting in visqueen, footing drains and some kind of pump arrangement, backfilling with gravel, and putting the dirt back.

None of it is cheap.

Roberta X said...

...Especially considering the tigt quarters between my house and the neighbors, and the tree tucked in between....

No, not cheap. But becoming necessary. I'll have to hire professionals and get a guarantee or warranty or something.

I may be adding a tipjar to my sidebar.

Stan in Minnesota said...

A basement is a well that we dig and then spend the next 50 years trying to keep water out of it.

WV=poteo......where I will be sitting after all the dang snow disappears here as i take a break from riding the VTX.

Eck! said...

The solution I've applied before is to punch a sump hole in the basement floor
and put in a screened well and dropped a float activated sump pump. then you can pump the water away before the floor gets wet.

If you do that, maintain the pump! Other wise floods happen faster.

Also a spare unused pump is always handy with a small genset (1-2KW) to run it will the lights out.

Oh, one hint. Since you do radio, a rubber mat on the basement floor is advised for those time where the fingers find higher voltages. If the mat can be evevated so it's not directly on wet/damp floor it is better. Tis better to be poorly grounded!


Turk Turon said...

Crap! What a way to spend a weekend. Or you could rename your blogs "The Voyages Of Roberta X" and "The View From The Bridge."

Just an attempt at a little levity... (crickets)

Seriously, I'd hit your tip jar.

Underground Carpenter said...

Roberta X,

Mencken advised, "When the water reaches the upper deck, follow the rats."

Wish I could send you some dry Arizona weather.


BGMiller said...

You could make the house air tight and maintain positive pressure.

Airlocks for front and back doors and into the garage (now to be referred to as the cargo bay) and you're good to go. And when the next ZOMGPANIC hits you're all set. We've had bird flu, swine flu, and SARS. I'm betting the next one will be Squirrel Gout. You heard it here first folks.


perlhaqr said...

You can still buy coal. I've got a friend with a coal fired forge, and he gets his from somewhere. I'm pretty sure he's not mining it in his backyard. :D

WV: "olisti" -- See m'um, what you need 'ere is an 'olisti solution fer yer problems..."

Roberta X said...

I am seriously questioning if a sump pump could keep up.

I need a civil-type engineer, is what I need; and I may know where to find one.

Anonymous said...

One word: Thoroseal.

Drang said...

Tam's Chicago dream--the hydraulic buildings part, not the Rahmbo part--is seeming prophetic.

og said...

"I am seriously questioning if a sump pump could keep up."

Your house is relatively small. The sump will easily keep up. It just has to be installed correctly. We used a 1 hp sump pump to keep a 1400 square foot basement dry, and the basement was below the water table.

You have to make sure you have a good sump pump- we had a Wayne Stainless model. We also rebuilt it every season, which cost a few dollars and took a half hour.

Joe in Reno said...

If this was my house the question I'd be asking is the floor drain connected to the sanitary sewer or to a "dry" sump?

If it is connected to a sanitary sewer and isn't draining, the first thing I'd think is tree roots or a failure(collapse)in the line somewhere. If it is only your basement affected and the water level there doesn't change when you flush or shower or show signs of sewage backup I'd think of an obstruction between the floor drain and the rest of the house line. A rooter service and sewer camera are called for here. Repairs to the line and installing a positive backflow valve would likely solve most of your problem.

If the floor drain connects to a dry sump (very common especially in older houses)it's probably filled up & not adequate for the amount of water you're getting. If this is the case, I'd either bust out the floor drain and put a barrel sized sump hole in and install an automatic sump pump and a positive acting anti-backflow valve connected to your sewer line. You can get sump pumps with an integral 12V battery back up. Or the other option would be to determine if your basement elevation is adequate to reach the gravity sewer line and tap into that. Again a positive check valve would be a good idea.

If you can get the drain to work right. would expect a lot of the perimeter problem to disappear as the water table drops to a level below the basement floor.

Roberta X said...

Floor drain feeds sanitary sewer -- Indy still has combined sewers. They get overwhelmed when there is heavy rain, so a sump can't feed them even if the city allowed, which it does not. So a sumppump feeding a dry well has to keep well ahead of the ingress...while dumping the water nearly back out where it came from!

The floor drain check valve is in check (Mate in three moves, I think) as I write, which it has not been in the past. I'm wondering if there is some reset procedure. (Looking it up next).

Perimeter water entry has slowed, maybe even stopped; I just brought the sump hose in for the night. Going to be below freezing. Of course.

Ian Argent said...

One of the things I'm very glad we required the previous owners of The Lair to do before we signed by the X and initialed each page was to put in a sump, pump, and french drain. OTOH, my regret is that we didn't force them to drain the entire basement...

This led (via a chain of erros involving a dehumidifier and 100 amp breaker box) to me standing in ankle-deep water resetting a 20 amp breaker that the sump pump was attached to, after having gone out in a howling rainstorm to get laughed at by a Lowe's clerk for asking after a small pump, and to drive eastbound past water about to crest a Jersey Barrier on the westbound lanes.

Luckily, the high-water point at which the water in the main part of the basement crested the lip to the part that has the sump in it was just lower than the pedestals the hot water heater and the steam boiler were set on, and nothing else that was feet-wet was particularly susceptible to water damage.

I also discovered that the entry point for the (removed) oil pipes to the (removed) tank in the front lawn was NOT properly sealed, and that the sump pump ejected right into the (former) location of the tank. (Why the contractor chose to eject out the front of the house when the land slopes to the rear of the property is another question as well...)