Understanding Drainage or Why I Need to Listen to “Delta Dawn”

Here’s a scene: Pierre and I return from seeing Atonement last night and are in the kitchen talking about the lush cinematography and how they turned McEwan’s novel into a visual experience when I hear the sound of running water. Inside. And, because I now know my house intimately, I recognize this sound as the source of past basement sogginess.

Sure enough, with the weirdly warm temperature, the sleet had turned to rain and was now pouring in around the edges of the west-facing basement window. We stood there for a moment in silence watching leak after leak spring through the flaking plaster. We moved the carpets and the drying rack out of the water’s way as it flowed towards the crusty floor drain. But really there was nothing else we could do, so we went to bed and I dreampt about Kate Winslet swimming through the corridors of the Titanic.

This morning I’m pondering the problems created by cement that slopes in to the basement all around the house. What’s the definition of a “sink-hole”? Who thought that cement was a good idea? Who were these people?

What’s a girl to do?

Which takes me to Delta Dawn and the escapism of my headphones. What water? What drainage?

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4 Responses to Understanding Drainage or Why I Need to Listen to “Delta Dawn”

  1. Fred says:

    Water is awful. Since i can’t see any pictures of your situation, there’s a few rules to water: It always wants to take the path of least resistance – so your best option is to grade away from the house whereever possible. If that isn’t possible, you can add some type of moisture barrier in critical areas to channel the water into the right spots, then pump the water to a better location (they make auto-on pumps that sound like they might be helpful for your situation). As far as sealing, you’ve got lots of options, including products like Super Thoroseal for concrete / block, and also caulk sealants (you can find tons at Lowes). Anyhow, just some thoughts from an avid DIYer….

    Fred
    One Project Closer

  2. maria says:

    hey m, i had the same sort of problem with a weird sort of mini sidewalk on the one side of my house that sloped inward. the side walk had no use cuz it wasn’t attached to any other walkway around my house. we had to borrow a jackhammer and get rid of it and then got lots of fill and grass and made a slope away from the house. it took almost a day but i haven’t had a problem since! lots of work but worth it.

  3. housegirrl says:

    Awesome suggestions! It looks like a jackhammer is in my near future:)

  4. Yep – The key to solving this is 99% of the time done from the OUTSIDE. The finial thing is to pump it out from the inside. Those “auto on” pumps are called sump pumps.

    First
    Make sure all ground on the outside slopes away from the foundation and make sure down spouts extend at least 6 feet away from the house. These two things will solve the majority of problems.

    If this doesn’t do it
    You may want to consider installing a exterior perimiter drain. Also called a French drain. This involves installing a trench with crushed stone in which is a pipe that allows water to enter it. This pipe is set, ideally, so that gravity will take the water away to daylight somewhere far from your house. If you cant go to daylight you could also install whats called a drywell. This is essentially a deep hole, filled with crushed stone which will accept the channeled water, instead of your basement.

    Once all of that is done THEN you may need a similar french drain inside your basement. Again, if you can go to daylight you will not need a pump. If you cant then a pump will be required. The discharge from the pump should be far from the house or you will just be re-circulating the water.

    Let me know if you have any questions. I would be glad to discuss this on an upcoming podcast. Just let me know on my blog.

    http://www.handyguyspodcast.com

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