Stream in a basement/wet/mold

9 Replies

Good evening Biggerpockets!

I am reaching out for some help/advice. I purchased a foreclosed SFH to rehab and use as a rental. There was standing water in the basement; I removed it, and to my surprise found that it was almost like a stream/crick flowing through the basement. I can only summarize after having talked to several contractors/drainage professionals that it is due to the water table being so high, the house sitting in a small bowl, possibility of terrible to no drainage around the house, and the basement being so low.

It seems the previous owners saw that there was water seeping up through the concrete, and decided to channel that water to a sump pump (which are common in the area) by chipping out the basement floor from one side to the other where the sump pump basin was. This has allowed free access for water to come up through the chipped away spots and flow through the basement handmade channel creating a stream/crick.  It does not always run, and does go dry, although with the wet year seems to not be for long.  I calculated that the sump pump I put in was discharging 3-6 gallons of water every minute and a half/ 24 hours a day/everyday.

Things I have done to help mitigate:

-expanded the sump pump basin, and put in a proper basin with 2 sump pumps with their own separate breaker and outlet.

-I did have the water tested that was coming up through the basement floor and flowing to the sump pump.  It tested positive for chlorine. Town was contacted and they came out and said that it did test positive for chlorine but not an amount that would warrant coming from them. I spoke to the neighbor in the back of the house about her swimming pool, she stated she has no leaks and has not had to fill it for awhile.  She is on a well (cause we are on the line of village amenities, I have town water) but says her sump pump runs 3-4 times a day not all day (her house sits much higher than mine). 

I have played with the idea of filling the basement (8ft tall) with concrete or something.

The problem I have ran into is that the basement, although parts of it are dry on the floor, is now rife with mold spots that where not there before.  I can not figure out a way to stop the flow of water forever, or how to prevent mold form continuing to grow since it will always be wet.

ANY suggestions or advice anyone could offer would be appreciated.  I have been doing research online, and talked to some companies that specialize in mold remediation/control.  I spoke with a few contractors, and every town department about how to permanently stop the water but was told that because of where the house sits in conjunction to the neighbors, how low the basement is to how low the town culvert is (which is the lowest spot on my property and my 2 neighbors) that we still have a 6ft+ difference that can not be made up to daylight a pipe to just drain the water naturally from the house.

Please if you have a suggestion or advice i would love to hear it.

@Aaron Desimone Ugh!  This stinks!  I googled and found in your area.

The permanent solution can be very expensive--think $15K.  It may involve hitting it from every angle (sump pumps, digging a french drain around your basement, sealing the inside and outside of the basement walls, culverts, etc), but mostly shunting water around the basement to wherever it ultimately goes.  Maybe your sump pump goes 24/7 because the water is just coming right back in.  Enough must escape that your basement doesn't totally flood.  You need to find out where it escapes to and direct water there.

@Larry T.

Thank you for the response.  I have scheduled several more contractors to come out and take a look, to include some other excavation companies, concrete contractors, and basement remediation contractors. 

I was attempting to keep the costs down, however I can see this turning into a bigger, and possibly more costly issue in the future so we are trying to find the more permanent solution rather than the cheaper, which is what you have validated. Thank you again!

This is crazy! There has to be an underlying cause. I can’t believe that the water table is just that naturally saturated. I had the issue of my personal home having a small stream in my basement. Only had the problem once. This was after 5 days of constant hard rain, flooding everywhere. The ground was just so saturated. It seems like there’s really only two explanations. Either there’s a busted pipe near you, or every bit of drainage is being directed you. Something to check that some people let go unnoticed are your downspouts. I’ve seen instants where the downspouts weren’t properly installed or over the years have been hit or what not and now are letting all that collected water drain directly on the foundation. Wish you luck, and hope you are able to remedy this.

if it tests positive for chlorine its not ground water , sounds like city water leaking in . Check your main line 

@Matthew Paul

That's what I thought, although the water line is on the other side of the house, and the main is actually across the street with only a 3/4 in pipe feed lines to the properties on my side.

@Jacob Workman

Thank you, I will definitely be upgrading the gutters.

Turn off all toilets / water/ ect in the house and see if your water meter is moving at the street. Alot of times they will use galvanized pipes to go from the meter to the house, and where it connects to the house, usually threw the stem walls between your basement and you floor on the main level, it will leak right there. IV seen this a couple times. City water is pressurized far more then a well system is, is even if it's a 3/4 in pipe, it could be kicking out a ton of water.  

Sounds like you have a groundwater surcharge on basement slab. Is it leaking around the slab to wall interface? If so, it was not waterstopped properly. Slab to wall connections in basements should include a pvc bulb or hydrophilic (lick & stick) waterstop. 

Here is your real problem... Concrete is porous and is usually capped with a cement layer (top 1/8") that concrete contractors call the cream layer. That cream layer does a incredible job sometimes sealing off the surface. Someone destroyed that by chipping your water feature in to the floor. 

My last construction project included 2,000gpm of groundwater pumping continuously for six months (8" Parma Water Lifter Pumps, 150,000cy Excavation) and what I learned is that groundwater always finds a way in. If your groundwater is higher then the slab elevation, you are going to battle this indefinitely until it is installed right. There are two ways deal with it, passive (sump pumps, french drains) or active (7-layer bentonite waterproofing systems with drainage mat). Passive will leave you with reoccurring maintenance and management issues. 

Without looking at your specific situation, and just throwing out a idea, pour a new 12" thick capping slab over top of you existing slab that is properly waterproofed. This would include waterproofing over top of the existing slab, roll the membrane up the wall, terminate with batten bar, sealant, and butyl tape. Drill dowels in to the basement wall (right above the batten bar, don't penetrate the waterproofing layer) to make a rigid connection for your new slab to tie-in. Lick and stick some hydrophilic waterstop to the wall right underneath of your dowels (I like Raven RX-101), tie a rebar mat, and pour in a new slab over top. I would also consider adding a Hycrete or Xypex waterproofing additive in the concrete mix from the batch plant. 

Run that past a contractor to see if that would work. Once again, without seeing your specific situation, I can't say if it would or wouldn't work, I just wanted to give you something substantive to think about and discuss with a local contractor familiar with your situation. Good luck!

@Aaron Desimone

Its always best to fight water infiltration from the exterior.  Now that its winter'ish it may be too late.   I like the checking the water meter suggestion by someone else. 

@Tyler Resnick  has a lot of good info.  Adding a slab may cause head room issues and will affect your stair.  I would look at commercial products and not residential products to solve this issue.  Commercial products are more robust.  I would look at doing a xypex slurry mixture rub (topical) over the floor and walls.  We use this all the time on projects topical and integral with the concrete mix.  Its not pretty to look at but it works great!  This would work great on the floor. It works for walls to but i would apply this to the exterior side of the walls especially if you have cmu walls.  I would not want the cmu cells to fill up with water and freeze.  But there are better and cheaper products to go with if you dig out the exterior as i listed below.

With chlorine in the water says its either the pool water or city water.  Chlorine is only  added to water at a Water Treatment Plant to disinfect the water (This is what I design for a living).  I would find where the city water line comes into the basement and see if this line is leaking.   Without seeing the place my gut says its the pool leaking and the neighbor doesn't really know or is lying to you as her place is up hill from you.  See if the leakage stops during the winter when the pool is drained.    I would sample the pool water to see if the same as you tested on your property.

There are sheet goods and fluid applied waterproofing products out there as well. These products i would look at for exterior application.  These companies do have products you could use on the interior as well.

I have seen W. R. Meadows products on projects.  They have several systems.

Tremco is another popular one but not much exposure to.

Carlisle is another company we use.  But it may be more of the Cadillac product.

Good Luck!  Lets know how you fixed the issue.

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

Lock We hate spam just as much as you

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here