No drainage tile installed around finished basement's foundation

1 Reply

Anyone with knowledge of basement waterproofing in baltimore city rowhomes who cares to opine on whether they think this is a major red flag or not? The rowhome property I have under contract has a finished basement - however, no drainage tile was installed around the perimeter foundation walls. I probably couldn't afford to trench down and install the drains myself given the amount of demo and refinishing that would be involved. Scared this might be a major flooding/mold risk in the future. A standalone sump pump is installed but that appears to be it (according to the home inspector).

Hi Greg

I'm also an engineer and have some first hand experience with tying into drain tile and working down next to a foundation, however this is mostly with single family homes.

From my experience a drain tile is a nice to have, however the most important thing of all is to try to achieve positive grade away from the house's foundation in the first place.  Avoiding a large volume of water getting down to that area in the first place is critical.  I don't think tying into drain tile (for instance with a window well project) is needed AS LONG AS you control the water flow above how the water would get down to the drain tile in the first place.

My view on that drain tile is that it's kind of a last line of defense - with the idea being that if water does make it down to sit next to the lower levels of the foundation, it can percolate through (below/out away from foundation).  It just shouldn't be sitting there or putting pressure against the foundation.  There's lots of approaches that will work and the drain tile is a prescriptive that I was told came up in the mid 20th century - however one of the rental properties we own actually has a wooden foundation, with extensive weather wrapping around it, and then about 2 feet of pebbles/river rock out from the foundation in each direction.

I've found finding and tying into existing drain tile to be extremely problematic - (how deep is it, where is it?) etc.

When doing window wells most inspectors around here just want to see that you're making a real effort to get down to a level at or below the basement slab, and setting river rock etc allows a place to run off/down below there and again not sit and put pressure against the foundation.

Long story short, it will depend on your situation and if you have an opportunity to get the water out/away from the foundation in the first place at ground level, but in general I'd definitely be looking at options to do that because its likely going to a much bigger bang for your buck!!!

Caveat here though that I can't speak to what your local inspectors etc may require in terms of building projects.  And I don't have experience with row homes.

Join the Largest Real Estate Investing Community

Basic membership is free, forever.