Every time it rains, are you taking an unexpected but risky chance with a wet basement or crawlspace in your house?
In your home, basements can be a great place to store items, finish for a needed man-cave, or even create extra bedrooms if you have access to the outdoors. While basements extend your living space, crawlspaces are often used to store vital heating, plumbing and electrical components to make life above ground peaceful. Both of areas home have a common issue – water control.
The ground water and surface runoff want to follow the path of least resistance; i.e. water flows downhill, and the basement and crawlspace are “downhill”. There is also the possibility of a high/fluctuation ground water table.
So, what can you do?
There are several factors to consider from original construction to repair techniques to take into consideration to make your home resistant to invading flash floods, fluctuations in ground water tables and hurricane/tropical storms.
Is your home a new construction? If it is, GREAT news because now is the opportune time to solve a future problem that may cost you time and money.
We would suggest you have a conversation with your building contractor to make sure that proper wall waterproofing is installed and be the correct match to the foundation type. Also, a perforated footing drain pipe at the base of the foundation, wrapped in a geotextile fabric, and surrounded by stone is a must. Ideally, it would lead to a surface discharge down grade.
Is your new abode on a flat lot? No problem! Your drain just needs to be redirected into a sump pit either in the exterior (yes, exterior, why invite the water in?) or interior of your home. We would recommend that in this call of action you plan for a battery or generator backup in case of extreme flooding in the area. Your contractor should also be able to check and make sure that the roof gutters and downspouts are properly sized and piped at least 10’ away from the home.
As for your new landscaping, the grading should slope away from the foundation of your home with a drop of 6” in 10’ minimum to direct rainwater away from entering your basement or crawlspace.
Existing homes present a more difficult challenge since they are already established. However, that does not mean that they are unfixable!
The first step is simple and involves some man power and a ladder. The first thing to verify is that the gutters are clear, and the downspouts are not overflowing. Gutters and downspouts can get clogged with tree debris and should be cleaned out often, but the key is how far does water flow out of those downspouts? To be confident that water from the gutters and downspouts is not seeping down to the foundation and making your basement wet, discharge should be at least 10 feet or more from the foundation.
The picture above shows an incorrect downspout that can led a home’s foundation with lingering problems.
The next item to check is your sump pump, if you have one. There are three main question to ask about the functionality of the sump pump.
- Has it been tested lately?
- Does it discharge properly?
- Can it keep up with any incoming water to the pit?
Sometimes problems arise that require the expert diagnosis and evaluation of an engineer. That’s where Yingst Engineers & Associates, Inc. comes in. We can diagnose specific problems and give you answers to questions like “why is this happening?” and “what should I do to correct it?” Working with Yingst Engineers & Associates, Inc. can help you avoid paying for unnecessary repairs or overlooking a growing problem that will cost you much more later.
And if you are witnessing weird water stains on your foundation’s walls as shown above, we can help diagnose water problems by seeing what patterns are left behind on the walls. For instance, if water comes in a corner of the wall immediate concerns are a potential downspout outside and grading issues.
A good choice in some cases is the installation of interior drain systems. The key word in that sentence is some. While they may work in certain cases, don’t rest assured that it works in every case or is the proper solution. Interior drain systems are not fixing the root of the real problem; they are just fixing a symptom. These systems typically rely on inviting ground water in and pumping it out, so backup power is almost always needed. With that said, these systems do have their place, but every home is different as to the best choice.
One of the best options, albeit expensive, is to excavate around the perimeter of the home and install the water control outside. But it is not the only solution.
The best approach to fix any moisture or wetness in a basement/crawlspace is to develop a plan and evaluate options. Our experience over almost 30 years allows us to recommend the best option and design for your home. Our licensed Professional Engineers will design a comprehensive and cost-effective solution to suit your needs, so a competent contractor can be engaged. Additionally, such design, signed and sealed by a Professional Engineer, are usually required by the municipality and are in your best interest before repairs can begin. You can rely upon Yingst Engineers & Associates, Inc. for peace of mind.
We wish everyone a dry basement and happy summer!
*Co-written by Steve Yingst and Andrew Dionne.