Soggy basements

Here in the Northeast, we’ve been getting mucho rain. Pouring, dripping, sluicing. It’s made me aware of many rain-related things such as poor gutters, damp windowsills, and basement puddling. I got home late yesterday and visited the basement for something (who knows, who remembers?) when I saw the water-stained carpet runners. In an effort to make the basement prettier, I bought those cheap rubber backed runners at Home Depot to throw down over the crumbly cement. And now they were wet. Really wet.

Sometimes I feel like I’m on Candid Camera for Homeowners. Seriously, someone should have video taped my efforts to drape the soggy carpets over my skinny rickety clothes rack from Ames. Hilarious. Except it wasn’t. I’m not sure where the water was coming from–possibly the windows, more likely the floor? What’s underneath the basement? I peered into the crusty drain hole (which could be a likely reason for pooling water, now that I think about it) and saw that it dropped a few…inches or feet into darkness. What lies beneath? What creatures slither and slide while we sleep? To be honest, I don’t want to know. I just want things dry.

I cranked the dehumidifer and jerry-rigged some old planking as a kind of prop to put the wet carpeting on. It ain’t pretty, but it’ll do.


2 Responses to Soggy basements

  1. retepsnave says:

    in an effort to help spread the wealth….
    so here’s my understanding of the hidden intricacies of what lies beneath our nasty old basement floors:

    the old ground water drain style had a network of pipes under the concrete floor. they interconnected with a drain or two in the center of basement floor which attached to perimeter ground water drain pipes that ran along the INSIDE of the basement wall. All drained into the main ‘pit’ where the main house trap/clean-out connects to the sewer line that goes out to the road. it was designed so storm ground water will drain out into the sewer system
    sort of looks like this (only without the ‘mat drain or micro channel’) :

    So now new construction codes mandates a new method of ground water drainage which keeps the storm ground water separate from the sewer system. Also the perimeter ground water drain pipe is located OUTSIDE the basement wall, to catch the water BEFORE it gets inside (read more on why this is good to counteract hydrostatic pressure):

    oh here’s another diagram of the new construction method:

    note the perimeter “footing drain” is connected to a sump pump that discharges outside on the ground…
    so imagine in the older houses that the “footing drain” is below and inside of the basement wall footing which was then interconnected to the sewer service line

    in the event of a storm with too much water it flooded because (in the worst case scenario the main sewer at the street became flooded and then backed up into the houses) or in most cases there simply was too much ground water inundating the footing drain which would begin backing up into the interconnected sewer line and out the floor drain and onto the basement floor. hence the reason why the new construction code does not allow the interconnection of ground water drain & sewer line (it also creates too much excess water for the main street sewer lines and sewage treatment plant to handle when a storm hits)

    oh if you want a bit of a horror story check out this guy’s blog on trying to repair a piss poor drainage fix job

    good luck and remember that it could have been a TON worse!

  2. retepsnave says:


    (yes, that was a ‘post’ sized ‘comment’)

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