Tenant calls about a leak in basement. .

35 Replies

People in Michigan hate renting houses without basements. But then at one point or another they all leak. They all have a hairline cracks and you get that call.

What do you do? Do u spend thousands to waterproof the wall on the outside? Do u give them a dehumidifier and call it done? No rooms in there so they shouldn't sleep in there.

It is not the perfect fix but i have fixed this issue by drilling out the crack and filling it with hydraulic cement. You could have a company pressure fill it wth epoxy for about $400 per crack. I have used hydraulic cement twice and have not had had a reocurring leak yet. Knock on wood.

yes. I have used mr. Sponge at 400 each. That basement had 7 cracks. That 3k. And that's just one house...

Hydraulic cement doesn't do a good job. If water wants to come it will cracks it next to the hydraulic patch.

I tell them when they move in that the basement is not water proofed. I just throw a dehumidifier down there. I also make sure to plug it in and set the humidity level myself as the tenant will never do it.

an interior drain tile system is going to take the pressure off the basement walls and under the floor and sounds a lot more cost effective especially compared to the crack repair job that seems like an expensive temporary patch job. I did this on my personal residence however would not jump at it in any of my properties. Some basements leak a touch in the spring here but nothing horrible. I only have one place where the basement is used as living space (my first duplex in which I lived until last year). Basements are primarily for storage or maybe a workshop den type area...

We did improvements to the outside drainage system and have almost no moisture in the basement now of one of our rental houses. We also painted the walls and floors with a sealer.

For the drainage, we bought new gutters and attached the downspouts into a french drain with an emitter at the end. The perforated portion of the french drain starts at least 10 feet from the house foundation. If there is a heavy rain, the emitters pop up and let the excess water out. Then gravity releases them again and they lie flush with the lawn again. The emitter cap comes off for drain cleaning and we have an extra clean out on one of the longer 30 foot runs.

Great question @George P.

I have had properties with both finished and un-finished basements. In NJ water in either can be a big deal. Why? Water/moisture is a place that can harbor mold. IKES a big deal in NJ. There are many different ways to remedy H2O concerns. For me I follow the regiment of proper leaders and downspouts to get roof water away from foundation (to include regular maint thereof) proper grading to exterior of home (to include regular maint there of), window well covers ( to include regular maint. thereof and if I even suspect water penetration through the walls and or floor a complete french drain w/ sumps goes in immediately. Prevents headaches down the road.

One person I know just spent 7k to "waterproof" the basement (NJ) -- the process where they dug out around the exterior of home.

I can honestly say though, I have NEVER known a basement anywhere in the US that hasn't flooded at one point or another.

The only time we have had a flooded basement was from a broken plumbing pipe. It is possible to have a dry basement. It starts with finding the root cause of the moisture intrusion and effectively addressing it. Make sure you have good drainage, good barrier protection, good ventilation and maintain an adequate temperature in the space.

Originally posted by @Marcia Maynard :
The only time we have had a flooded basement was from a broken plumbing pipe. It is possible to have a dry basement. It starts with finding the root cause of the moisture intrusion and effectively addressing it. Make sure you have good drainage, good barrier protection, good ventilation and maintain an adequate temperature in the space.

That all makes sense. I assume there are companies that specialize in making dry basements? I don't know of any in the DFW area, as we have few basements here. I have one and could use some guidance in making it dry.

The old home I rehabbed for my daughter had a serious (basement) moisture problem. The cement floors would literally get very damp to physically wet not from cracks but from the constant infiltration due to the hydrostatic pressure building up under the cement flooring & against the walls.

I redesigned the sump pump system to discharge 30 feet downward from the natural slope of the lot & the perimeter of the basement walls.

The basement is now so dry we no longer need the dehumidifier on nor does the floor exhibit any residual dampness.

When I built my sons home we completely surrounded the perimeter of the home with a drainage system that directs the roof runoff & sump discharge 100 feet away to a French drain. Prior to that the sump pump would cycle constantly after heavy rains.

@Pat L.

Since super storm Sandy a lot of underground waterways have shifted and water issues are arising where never before. I agree a properly installed French drain system can offer years of a dry basement. In NJ that usually means added equity and value in your property!

@George P. I've had good luck using this product for cracks in poured walls:

Epoxy at HD

It has a tube that mixes the two liquids at the end. (It's similar to JB Weld, but not as messy). Wear a latex glove, shoot it into the crack, and smooth it out with your finger.

If you have any rod hole leaks, hydraulic cement works great for those.

I hate water, i will literally start punching rain drops. I drink only juice out of spite ( i know it has water but it makes me feel good)

1. Locate leak/ leaks
2. Hydraulic cement crazy
3. Drylock on top of that

Problem with "crack repair"...in addition to expense, they know once filled, another eventually appears. Do what i do

Sump pump if under doors or all ground penetration in one area. Run a length of perorated drain if necessary to it. Still less expensive

The best answer that I have ever found is to use Sani Tred to water proof the walls and floors. I also install a 2" pipe in each corner to prevent under-floor pressure.

stephen
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Originally posted by @George P. :
People in Michigan hate renting houses without basements. But then at one point or another they all leak. They all have a hairline cracks and you get that call.

What do you do? Do u spend thousands to waterproof the wall on the outside? Do u give them a dehumidifier and call it done? No rooms in there so they shouldn't sleep in there.

Originally posted by @Kris Taylor :

I can honestly say though, I have NEVER known a basement anywhere in the US that hasn't flooded at one point or another.

My house has a full basement that has never leaked or flooded. We built the house 11 years ago. We built it on the high point of the property, surrounded it with a french drain, and the gutters all connect to a pipe that drains into a small pond in the front yard.

Another consideration is if the house is in a flood plain or in an area with a high water table, not so good. So this is another reason location matters. Be aware of the natural watersheds. @Sylvia B. sounds like you did some good planning!

Originally posted by @George P. :
People in Michigan hate renting houses without basements. But then at one point or another they all leak. They all have a hairline cracks and you get that call.

Yes, water always wins.Unless you are willing to spend more than what the house is worth you probably cannot even reduce it.When I get finished basements I UNfinish them by pulling out drywall and studs.These become mold magnets when basements flood.I see basements as just storage areas.

In my worst house I took a sledge hammer to the floor and busted out a trench.I inclined the ditch and put down gravel.I laid down some pipes and directed them into the sump pit.Now the water is simply flushed away. One company wanted $8000.00to “waterproof” it.

I have a house with a basement utility room , not very big .One wall always weeped water after a decent rain . Since block is hollow there was pleanty of room for water . I did the qiuck and easy , I took the hammer drill , drilled a 3/4 inch hole in the base of the block and then put a 3/4 in pvc pipe in and ran it to the sump pump , Basement is now dry , Total time a little over an hour , and $ 14.00 in supplies .

The one thing I learned about basements is water is always trying to get in , you arent going to stop it , you need to control it and send it where you want .

Why not interior and exterior drain tile? We renovated a couple dozen houses in Milwaukee, and nearly all of them had leaky basements. We spent $4-12K in each to install drain tile and if properly cared for, should alleviate most/all of the water intrusion for a good long time.

It's not cheap, but will likely pay for itself when you go to sell...

I had a fairly significant water issue in my unfinished basement making the space virtually worthless for any purpose. Water would leak through the walls and through the joints in the floor creating puddles just about everywhere. The solution was having a company called B-Dry fix the problem. Fifteen years later and the basement is dry as it could be.

Here's how they solved the problem:

Completely removed the concrete floor

Dug a 12" trench around the entire perimeter of the basement.

Lined the base of the trench with gravel and them laid in a mesh covered perforated pipe around the perimeter . This pipe terminates into a sump pump.

Next, the walls were covered with a heavy gauge plastic wall panels that extend down into the trench.

The remaining space in the trench was filled with gravel and a new concrete floor was poured .

It's amazing how much water flows into the sump pit but the basement is completely dry.

It was fairly expensive but in retrospect, worth every penny since the space is now usable square footage.

J Scott can you recommend anyone you have used for interior drain tile before. Need to get this done in a rental but dread looking for a contractor after my latest saga. Please PM if you prefer to posting.

Originally posted by @Marcia Maynard :
Another consideration is if the house is in a flood plain or in an area with a high water table, not so good. So this is another reason location matters. Be aware of the natural watersheds. @Sylvia B. sounds like you did some good planning!

Thanks, Marcia, yes we did. Several years went into planning, but there are still things that I wish we'd done differently. I guess it's not really possible to build a perfect house. ;)

Originally posted by @Jon Klaus :
Originally posted by @Marcia Maynard:
The only time we have had a flooded basement was from a broken plumbing pipe. It is possible to have a dry basement. It starts with finding the root cause of the moisture intrusion and effectively addressing it. Make sure you have good drainage, good barrier protection, good ventilation and maintain an adequate temperature in the space.

That all makes sense. I assume there are companies that specialize in making dry basements? I don't know of any in the DFW area, as we have few basements here. I have one and could use some guidance in making it dry.

jon, i know quite a bit about leaks and basements and i dont think your question was answered/addressed.

here's a list of the things that you can do to dry a basement. not any particular order:

- push the downspouts away from the house (effective)

- grade the slope away from the house (not very effective)

- french drain on the exterior of the house at the surface (lawn/dirt) level pushing the water into emitter (effective)

- squirting polyurethane type foam every 8" along the crach. VERY effective if done right. the problem is that most systems are squeezed by hand and not the ENTIRE crack is filled. a guy u used uses 3k PSI pressure to fill it in

- dig on the outside and put tar, visqueen, dimpled membrane and fill dirt back in. very effective, very expensive (~8k in my area per wall). but you have driveways, patios... not always possible

- hydraulic cement - not affective for the most part. sometimes it might work

- sump pump inside the basement - french drain along the interior walls, pipes connect into a can, pumps it outside - very effective. around $5k per 1k sq. ft house.pumps can fail at times, but they cost around $125 to buy.

- i have had great success with this one... pour a concrete slab like a patio on the outside. 99% of the water will be pushed away, so not enough water will get into the crack. the leak at my house stopped after pouring a patio. it used to leak during every rain.

Originally posted by @George P. :

...

- sump pump inside the basement - french drain along the interior walls, pipes connect into a can, pumps it outside - very effective. around $5k per 1k sq. ft house.pumps can fail at times, but they cost around $125 to buy.

- i have had great success with this one... pour a concrete slab like a patio on the outside. 99% of the water will be pushed away, so not enough water will get into the crack. the leak at my house stopped after pouring a patio. it used to leak during every rain.

George, I have a rental that is completely surrounded by concrete - be it patio, sidewalk or steps there is poured concrete all around. And the basement there took in water every rain. So your last solution that is in the quoted excerpt was not successful in that case (let's hope you have better luck). So for that house, none of the other alternatives you listed were feasible, other than the interior french drain with sump pump (that I left in the excerpt for reference). But it's still a good list of approaches.

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