Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The battle against nature continues

We've been a little waterlogged Chez Martineau with the summer storms of the past couple of weeks. When we bought the house we knew that we could get a fair amount of water in the front room of the basement, but it appeared that the water came from under the stairs and so one day might be fixable. Perhaps that day has come.

With repeated storms last week (we got 4" in one hour one day) we took on some significant water in the front room of the basement (a couple inches, but not enough to make it into any of the other rooms). Normally, this would be a minor inconvenience, however, as we stashed most of the contents of the basement of our old house in the first room while making plans to organize the back two, there's a little more at stake. At one point (well, at several points) Eric was outside in the midst of a rainstorm re-grading dirt and push-brooming the lake of water down the hill from between our house and the neighbor's (who we will patently blame for the water in our basement as their gutters are so clogged and dirty that brand new plants are growing up there and they overflow and land between our houses). Meanwhile, I was shop-vac-ing water out of the front room when I realized there appeared to be water in the heretofore DRY second room. I flipped on the light in there to witness a small stream coming in below the new glassblock window. I alerted Eric who immediately tackled that fountain from the outside and stopped the flow. It would probably help if we had actual grass in our backyard instead of the mud patch that just creates a pond out of our entire backyard.

Then we had guests staying over this past Friday when another storm broke out at 4AM. I awoke at 6AM on Saturday morning wondering where my husband was. He was in the basement shop-vac-ing water (sorry Tim & Carol!) and using hydraulic cement to attack a new (3rd) leak that sprung around our water connection in the second room in the basement. So finally, fed up with the repeated deluge, on Sunday Eric removed the stairs to the basement (actually just took them up) and used the Dry-Lok cement to fill in a number of holes under the steps. We've not had any serious rains since, but we're hopeful that we've finally addressed the main problem!

(Eric Here): Quite discouraging, really. For long-time readers, you may recall a half-dozen previous posts where I discussed my attempts to control the water in the basement. New gutters, a french drain, re-grade, gutter extensions, a drainpipe to direct 100% of the east side roof water down the front hill... I'm probably forgetting a few. And each time, a mother-of-a storm rolls through and our basement gets an inch or so of water.

On the positive side, it does happen much less frequently (or so it seems, as the frequency depends upon the weather). And the 4'' rainfall was truly a record-setter which had some streets in Columbus under 3 feet of water, so I shouldn't be surprised that the improvements I had made couldn't cope with such a massive rain.

So as Mary said, I tore up the stairs to the basement to access the wall where the water was coming in. The good news is I found a number of cracks where the water seemed to be entering. My hope is that by filling the cracks with hydraulic cement, the water will no longer be able to enter at all. Of course, water has to go somewhere... it is my hope it finds its way into the french drain rather than finding some new hole.

Time will tell...


Dawn said...

I highly recommend coating the wall with Xypex (sold at Home Depot). It bonds with the cement and is much more permanent than Drylok. Its $$ and not exactly fun to apply, but we were able to waterproof our entire basement which had a number of cracks. Even after record breaking rain and a full undergroundwater main break at the next door neighbors house, our basement stayed dry as a bone the entire rainy winter here in Portland.

To protect our investment, we also installed the Squid-Gee dry system draining into a sump pump around the perimeter of the basement as a just-in-case measure before we finished the walls down there.

Jennifer said...

Hope it works for you! Leaky basements are never fun.

Fred said...

I've no experience with xypex (dawn's recommendation) but we've had great results with both sunnydry (lowes) and super thoroseal (home depot). Both are powder-based cement waterproofers that bond with block/cement to seal the wall. I know that they aren't good for painted walls, and I'm not sure how they would take to dry-lock - but perhaps something to consider.

I'm very sorry to hear about so much water in your basement. I know it is frustrating to try to fix something over and over and have it keep happening.

kerploppi said...

You guys are awesome!

I stumbled across your blog last week (looking for scooter stuff) and just finished reading the whole thing. The house looks fantastic.

I'm getting ready to redo a part of my house. The house is 100+ years old, but somebody added on a crappy back addition (almost like a sun room) at some point and I need to have it rebuilt. Can you recommend any of the people you used to do this type of project?

FYI, this is Melissa from kickball, last summer.