Crawl Space with Standing Water

6 Replies

Hey Guys,

This is my first "HELP!" post...glad to have a great place to ask for help!

I own a SFH in Broken Arrow, OK and when I purchased it the inspector noted some standing water under the house but no damage had been caused by it so it seemed not to be a longstanding issue. The previous owner had recently replaced the roof and had the gutters removed at that time. I discussed with the inspector and he felt sure that gutters would remedy the problem.

So, I put gutters on and the problem is still there.  There are no leaking pipes.  The water is all ground water.  Drainage around the house is decent, basically flat.  The standing water is only in places where the ground has sunken some and puddles have formed.

I had a crawlspace repair company come out today and they quoted me $1,800 to put in a sump pump.  Alternatively he suggested adding dirt to level out the space and then installing vapor barrier for $800.

Anybody had experience with this before?  Aside from the $1k difference, I like the "passive" solution of dirt and vapor barrier but I want to make sure it will work.

If I'm really lucky, maybe somebody in the Tulsa area could suggest a contractor to do this for me?  Based on my inspectors notes I was thinking the sump would be closer to $1,200 and the dirt/vapor barrier closer to $600.

@John Lindemann

I agree. When it comes to drainage, passive solutions should be preferred to mechanical ones.

A sump pump will eventually fail and during a thunderstorm when you need it the most, the power goes out!

As for a recommendation, we have used both Edens and Metro structural in Tulsa and they do a good job. They specialize in foundation issues and I'm sure could take care of what you need.

I will also PM you the name and number of a dirt work guy that we have used.

@Nate Garrett

Thanks for the advice.  The 3rd property I'm purchasing is going to have some foundation work done by Edens, I'll ask them for advice on this too.  I didn't even think of them for this...

I had the same issue in my SFR and was advised to grade the space so that the water would drain out along the foundation to the exterior. We also had a crawlspace company place the thick mil vapor barrier down there but it still always smelled musty when opening the access door. You need to have good ventilation as well.

If the water is ground water, you only have 2 solutions: a daylight drain or a sump pump. Ground water means the water is feeding up through the ground from below, and if that is the source grading won't do anything. To get rid of ground water, you can either provide a gravity drain to daylight, if it is possible and will drain, or you put in a sump pump. If you put in a sump pump, the way you solve the power outage dilemma is to have a small gated daylight drain so that if the power is off water can escape through the gate in the foundation. 

If the water is surface water, almost always it can be solved by properly grading around the foundation, being sure that gutters are installed and drain downhill from the house, and (when necessary) a toe drain around the foundation. 

If you are at all handy you can put in a sump pump yourself for less than $100. Buy the pump, get a 55 gallon plastic drum, cut it in half, drill a bunch of holes in it (big holes), dig a big hole in the ground in the crawl space about 6 inches deeper than the half barrel, pour 6 inches of gravel in the bottom, put the barrel in, pour gravel around the sides, set a solid concrete block in the bottom, set the pump on top of it, run your hose downhill of the house, plug in the pump and test it out (use a hose to fill the barrel). Depending on the crawl space, you might have to dig a couple of routing trenches to the sump pit as well. 

about the issue of the pump not working during a thunderstorm...the problem is really that water becomes stagnant, not that there is water under there, correct?  It seems like it would be okay if the power went out and the pump didn't run for several hours (or days) as long as it did eventually kick on when the power came back.

Am I wrong?

In my old house, when the pump stopped working and we didn't know, the water level rose to within a few inches of the sub floor, like a pond!  The concrete foundation allowed it to stay.  This was in a small area under a bedroom addition.

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