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My Neverending Basement Project.........(long)
Old 11-10-2009, 10:07 AM   #1
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My Neverending Basement Project.........(long)

Figured I'd give an update, since I started the project and its still not done.........

So,things are going along great, and then we had some BIG storms (5 inches, 3 inches, and 6 inches of rain). I go downstairs to find water in two corners of my basement, which I never had before..yikes!!

I get a basement foundation guy to come over and assess, and he says I have a "busted wall". he shows me some cracks and says I need to brace the walls with steel braces, and it will cost $7000 or so......

Obviously, I am going to get a second opinion, so I call another guy. He looks at it and says the inside is "fine", and I have outside problems. he wants to dig away from all the walls of the house and fix the water problem that way. Of course, half the landscaping and all the nice shrubs and buses I planted would be destroyed. His cost was "only" $10,000. At this point I was pretty pissed about it.

I got a third guy to come in. He took a look at the basement and said I DID NOT have a busted wall or need excavation work. He wanted to put in a new drain tile system (my house is only 20 years old). The cost of doing that was $4700. He was sure that would fix the problem.......

I decided to educate myself about basements and water problems. I thought it was weird that I was getting a little water in the basement and I never had that issue before, even though we have a lot of clay in our subdivision. I finally tracked down a guy that was another "expert" in waterproofing. He was a real character, swearing every other word, had more tattoos than an NBA player, and more earrings than 3 women. "Cliff" took a quick look around the basement, and in the sump crock, and said the walls and drain tile were fine. I told him about what the other contractors said and he said: "What did you expect, they just want to make money, they don't care about you or your problem"!!

We went outside and looked around. I had a large spruce tree about 20 feet tall that was next to the house by the basement wall where the sump crock sits. Then Cliff pointed out a few other things. The sump pump outlet pipe was disconnected (I didn't know because it was hidden under the tree). Also, he asked if I had had any recent landscaping work done. The landscaping guys built up a berm away from the house, but it made the water flow back towards the house.... Also, the landscapers put a nice quality rubber edging around all the beds. Cliff called that "the moat", actually, the "F***ing moat".........

He said I needed to change the pitch of the grading, raise the window wells, extend the downspouts, remove the tree, cut a drainage swale through the berm, etc. I was thinking big $ again, but he gave me a quote of around $2000 for all of it. So now I was faced with 4 different solutions with 4 different contractors. I liked Cliff because he was blunt and direct, (aqnd the lowest solution price). He even told me to check his company out on the BBB, which I did....(no complaints in the past 5 years).

I called back "busted wall" guy, and he said that the grading guy was lying to me, and was defensive. I called back "excavator guy" and told him what I had found out. he basically said I would regret if I did the grading without excavating...... Then I called back "drain tile guy". I told him about the grading, and he said: "I knew that was one of your problems"......... Turns out he doesn't do grading........ I forgot to mention that NONE of these contractors was willing to budge on price.....there must not be a recession in their worlds.......

I decided Cliff was the mose honest, and had the work done. They did a great job, did not disturb the landscaping or wreck any trees or bushes. Of course, it hasn't rained so I can't prove it is 100% fixed. Cliff said he could do something called a "spud test", where they take a metal spud and pound it 7-8 feet into the ground near the problem areas and run water through it to see if the water is getting in.......not very expensive, about $100. I might do that, not sure yet. I am starting to work on the basement again, although all this stuff has delayed the project for several months......

Bottom line? BEFORE you call a contractor, learn a little yourself.........
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Old 11-10-2009, 10:13 AM   #2
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Great story. I've had lots of similar experiences.
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Old 11-10-2009, 10:22 AM   #3
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Hire an engineer. Really the only way for a proper diagnosis.
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Old 11-10-2009, 10:44 AM   #4
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I decided Cliff was the mose honest, and had the work done. They did a great job, did not disturb the landscaping or wreck any trees or bushes. Of course, it hasn't rained so I can't prove it is 100% fixed. Cliff said he could do something called a "spud test", where they take a metal spud and pound it 7-8 feet into the ground near the problem areas and run water through it to see if the water is getting in.......not very expensive, about $100. I might do that, not sure yet. I am starting to work on the basement again, although all this stuff has delayed the project for several months......
It's only $100. I would do that before the ground freezes and you do more work on the inside.
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Old 11-10-2009, 10:53 AM   #5
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Hire an engineer. Really the only way for a proper diagnosis.
Plenty of engineers are full of BS too!

I would guess Cliff was probably closest to the right diagnosis given the history of your house, the landscaping and change in drainage/topography. See disclaimer below. And in any event, what Cliff recommended needed to be done anyway since you don't want water running towards your house or standing next to your house foundation.
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Old 11-10-2009, 02:58 PM   #6
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Hire an engineer. Really the only way for a proper diagnosis.
I know there are lots of engineers on here.........

I tried to find a structural engineer in Milwaukee, but the only ones I could find only do "Commercial Consulting"..........

I'm going to do a spud test, and also hope for a big rain. If there's no water, I'm going ahead full steam.........
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Old 11-10-2009, 03:00 PM   #7
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Plenty of engineers are full of BS too!

I would guess Cliff was probably closest to the right diagnosis given the history of your house, the landscaping and change in drainage/topography. See disclaimer below. And in any event, what Cliff recommended needed to be done anyway since you don't want water running towards your house or standing next to your house foundation.
My best friend is an engineer, so I am well aware of the thought processes used by engineers.........
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Old 11-10-2009, 03:07 PM   #8
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My best friend is an engineer, so I am well aware of the thought processes used by engineers.........
Hey I HEARD that.

So what the heck is a "spud test"?
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Old 11-10-2009, 03:25 PM   #9
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Hey I HEARD that.

So what the heck is a "spud test"?
Throw a potato at it?
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Old 11-10-2009, 03:28 PM   #10
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Bottom line? BEFORE you call a contractor, learn a little yourself.........
Absolutely! In a perfect world you should be able to call in a pro and his expert opinion will be one upon which you can rely. In the real world, my experience has been just like yours.

I'm still working to finish our basement, but first I had to deal with the potential for a water problem. I ended up digging a very deep trench approx 3 feet from the "problem" walls and installing a drain pipe at the bottom (to deal with a fully saturated soil condition or a rising local water table) and another pipe farther up (to deal with surface water). And, it gave me a chance to establish a positive grade away from the house, and to put my downspouts into another dedicated buried pipe that takes the water away. I decided on this course of action after reading a lot and getting bids for widely disparate prices and courses of action.

Good luck on the project. It's a little scary putting up all the finishing stuff until you are certain the water won't be back. That's why I'm building in lots of redundancy in my anti-water plan.
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Old 11-10-2009, 03:54 PM   #11
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Unfortunately, waterproofing basements seems to attract a lot of snake oil salesmen. I've fixed a number of basement leaks on different houses simply by adding soil to the perimeter of the basement where the back fill had settled and extending the down spouts. You don't need to be an engineer to know that water flows downhill.
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Old 11-10-2009, 03:55 PM   #12
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Hey I HEARD that.
I didn't say their logic was flawed, I just said I am WELL AWARE of their thought processes.........

Quote:
So what the heck is a "spud test"?
It's a 9 foot hollow steel tube that you pound into the ground 7-8 feet deep right next to the house. Then you run a bunch of water down the tube and it helps check to see if your drain tile is doing its job........
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Old 11-10-2009, 03:57 PM   #13
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Unfortunately, waterproofing basements seems to attract a lot of snake oil salesmen. I've fixed a number of basement leaks on different houses simply by adding soil to the perimeter of the basement where the back fill had settled and extending the down spouts. You don't need to be an engineer to know that water flows downhill.
On another note,I called the landscape company, and asked how much of the bill they were willing to pay since they changed the topography to have water flow TOWARD my house........and got crickets........
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Old 11-10-2009, 04:04 PM   #14
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On another note,I called the landscape company, and asked how much of the bill they were willing to pay since they changed the topography to have water flow TOWARD my house........and got crickets........
Fish bait...
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Old 11-10-2009, 04:16 PM   #15
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Unfortunately, waterproofing basements seems to attract a lot of snake oil salesmen. I've fixed a number of basement leaks on different houses simply by adding soil to the perimeter of the basement where the back fill had settled and extending the down spouts. You don't need to be an engineer to know that water flows downhill.
In fact, I had to INFORM the municipal engineer that water flows downhill! He grudgingly accepted my logic and finally took responsibility for flooding my street.
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Old 11-10-2009, 04:57 PM   #16
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I know there are lots of engineers on here.........

I tried to find a structural engineer in Milwaukee, but the only ones I could find only do "Commercial Consulting"..........

I'm going to do a spud test, and also hope for a big rain. If there's no water, I'm going ahead full steam.........
Weird. I easily found a structural engineer who is going to go out to my old farm 50 miles away and look at the basement. I guess our recession is worse than your recession.
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Old 11-10-2009, 05:39 PM   #17
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Everyone I know has extended their downspouts this year. That is an easy and inexpensive thing to start with.
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Old 11-10-2009, 06:10 PM   #18
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I think you made a wise decision. However, I'd take an add'l step to guarantee you neer have an issue again.


You said you already have a sump...which is great. Look into an interior perimeter drain system. sure, it costs $$, but it's insurance. You will NEVER have to worry about your finished basement getting wet....EVER. I was able to do a home with 135 linear feet of basement walls for under $1000 and my own labor. This entailed busting up a 12" trench of concrete around the perimeter of the basement, installing perforated piipe covered in gravel, running 6 mil visqueen dwon the walls and over the piped, and putting concrete back on top of the visqueen. This ensures that any water coming thru the walls or up from the wall/floor junction will get swept away to the sump pump you tie the perf pipe into. this is something you could even hire laborors for and simply supervise. $1000-$1500....or find a moisture problem has caused mold behind your sheetrock and have that fixed 10 years down the road?

I have detailed instructions and pics if you wish....
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Old 11-11-2009, 06:44 AM   #19
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It sounds like you need an engineer to evaluate your topography, sump pump, and downspouts, and prepare a grading plan to solve the problem.
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Old 11-12-2009, 08:36 AM   #20
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It sounds like you need an engineer to evaluate your topography, sump pump, and downspouts, and prepare a grading plan to solve the problem.

overkill. as was mentioned....water runs downhill.
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