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Interior drain system should work

QuestionWe've been in our home for about 50 years now and we've always had a problem with water leaking in the basement between the wall and the floor if we water the lawn too close to the foundation wall. We have gutters but there's no problem with water runoff because it's directed away from the home; however, heavy rains along with a slight slope of the lawn toward the house bring water into the basement. It would be difficult to remove the 6 feet of basalt rock that surrounds our concrete foundation in order to seal the concrete walls or to put in a drain system. Surely there must be some material we could use to seal the leak permanently from the inside. I would appreciate it if you would help me with this project.

AnswerYou have a unique situation and it appears that the foundation was poured into a pocket of a basalt rock bed. It also sounds as if the basement sits in a monolithic structure, i.e., the basalt rock was used as the exterior form of the foundation so it could be cast as a single unit. The expense to excavate the rock would be horrendous, not to mention the damage it would cause to the foundation. However, it might help if you bring in some clay soil and slope the grade away from the house. Be sure to leave at least 6 inches of the foundation exposed (from the bottom of the sill to the grade) to meet the building code.

It's been estimated that more than 90 percent of wet basements leak water from the lower portion of the foundation walls and at the joint where the floor and wall meet. Surface water collects and builds up in a pocket (or pockets, in your case) around the foundation causing hydrostatic pressure. Water is then forced through the weakest point in the foundation: the joint where the floor and walls meet.

I don't recommend sealing the joint—the buildup of water pressure against the foundation will only compound the problem. The key is to remove the water pressure to eliminate damage to the foundation. I could probably outline all kinds of preventive measures for you, but in your case, it would be expensive and there's no guarantee that any would work.

You could bring in a waterproofing contractor, but I believe you could handle this project yourself by installing an interior drain system by Waterproof.com, LLC. Their basement water control system is called SquidGee Dry and can be used with both solid concrete foundations and concrete blocks (requires weep holes drilled into the block cells). The concept was designed and has been on the market since 1965.

image courtesy of waterproof.comBasically the system is a hollow PVC baseboard (5 inches H x 1 1/4 inches W at the base and 1/4 inch at the top) installed along the base of the wall. It's held in place with a moisture-activated sealant that cures in wet conditions. Somewhere in the system you install a break so the water can drain to a floor drain (check with local building codes and sewer treatment plant before draining to a floor drain) or a sump pump.

The component pieces can be ordered direct at (800) 828-2947 or on line at www.waterproof.com. The estimated cost (including all parts) delivered to the door is under $6 a foot. While visiting the Web site, check out the installation guide to learn how to incorporate the system into a framed surface. Once the system is in place, contact your local building department for guidance on how best to finish the basement to meet any energy codes in force in your area.

Before framing, test the system to make sure there are no leaks. Somewhere in the middle of the system, use a dustpan to pry the top of the hollow PVC baseboard away from the wall (with the interior of the dustpan facing the foundation wall). Then fit a hose between the dustpan and the concrete wall and turn on the water so it runs into the system. Finally, check the drain—you should see water running into it. If you have installed a sump pump, you will need to run enough water through the system until you hear the pump activate. Finally, install carpet using two-faced tape, and voilà! You now have a dry basement!

Copyright © 2004, 2006, & 2007 LAF/C.R.S., Inc. All rights reserved.
Question answered by Leon A. Frechette.

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