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Mariah Porter
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I found a corroded drain hidden in a basement bedroom

Mariah Porter
Posted Dec 22 2022, 07:18

I've been having some mysterious water issues and my carpet got flooded in the dead of winter the other day. It seemed very strange because I did a test with a pressure gauge and there was no plumbing leak, and the ground is very, very frozen outside so it shouldn't be seepage from outside. I pulled up my carpet and pad and found a weird cement patch that had been poured over a low area in the slab. The patch was all broken up because the water had weakened it. I pulled up a big chunk and found this corroded drain. I've attached a picture. Seems a little shady to me that it was badly covered up. Is this something that the sellers should have disclosed? I know that they bought the house as a flip and finished the basement. I've had several other major problems and I'm feeling like the sellers should have known about some of them. I've been renting out my extra rooms and have had tenants displaced a few times because of random things like this. I've lost a lot of money in vacancy and repairs.

What would you do if this had happened to you?

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Bruce Woodruff#1 Contractors Contributor
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Bruce Woodruff#1 Contractors Contributor
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Replied Dec 22 2022, 07:23

If this drain is still active and the sellers knew about it, then you have a solid case. I would contact your own Realtor first and have them contact the seller. The seller will of course balk at giving you any money, but you have to stand your ground and insist that they help. The hard part is proving that they really knew about this.......

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Scott Mac
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Scott Mac
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Replied Dec 22 2022, 07:32

Seller knew it or not.

Call a plumber and ask to have it capped professionally.

Text them pic first and ask for a bid.

Tell them you want to concrete over the cap--forever.

ask them if they can/will (cost) to concrete over it.

In some areas they carry concrete in their trucks to set new toilets on (other place forbid it).

Good Luck!

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Nathan Gesner
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Nathan Gesner
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ModeratorReplied Dec 22 2022, 07:54
Quote from @Mariah Porter:

You will have to prove they knew it was active. They may have thought it was abandoned and put concrete over it just to level it out.

  • Property Manager Wyoming (#12599)

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Theresa Harris#2 Managing Your Property Contributor
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Theresa Harris#2 Managing Your Property Contributor
Replied Dec 22 2022, 08:25

If it is ground water, look into getting a sump pump installed (perhaps in a closet in the bedroom that can be covered with trap door-somewhere out of the way).  I would talk to your realtor if they don't already know about the other problems, so that at least future clients of theirs can avoid buying flips from that person.

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Richard F.#1 Tenant Screening Contributor
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Richard F.#1 Tenant Screening Contributor
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Replied Dec 22 2022, 10:08
Aloha,

You need to determine if it is still connected. Have plumber investigate, by camera and/or cable. If it is connected, maybe you have a case. If it is not connected, doubtful you have anything.

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Leo Ray
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Leo Ray
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Replied Dec 29 2022, 12:19

@Mariah Porter I've lived through some pretty serious basement flooding issues on one of my own rentals, so I definitely feel your pain--it's not a fun situation.

My natural reaction was also to wonder about the seller's disclosures, and whether I could bring a lawsuit against the sellers, but I pretty quickly realized this wasn't feasible or advisable (in my situation, it would have been almost impossible to prove the sellers were negligent or withholding a disclosure, and the legal fees would have been steep). ...but, I'm not a lawyer, so it may be worth asking a lawyer anyway...

I think your first priority here is to figure out what's causing the flooding, and fix that issue as soon as possible.

Most houses have a drain at the lowest part of the slab that's intended to collect water in event of a flood (for instance, if a broken pipe caused a flood)--I assume that that's what this pipe is?  If you pour water into this pipe, does the water disappear, or does it immediately back up? (it should disappear--and if it doesn't, you may need to call a plumber).

Regardless, you'll want to start investigating what caused the flooding, and try to zero in on the cause BEFORE you start trying to make any fixes (such as digging a sump). When I experienced flooding problems, it was natural to want to try to jump right into fixing the issue, but I soon realized I was just shooting in the dark until I knew the cause of the flooding (for me, it turned out to be a ground water issue)

There are lots of questions you can ask to try to determine the cause of the flooding--for instance, was the entire carpet soaked evenly, or was it only soaked in a particular spot? (either can be a clue for where the water's coming from). You said the ground is very frozen now, but was there any rain or snow melt in the last week or two?  (if so, then it could be ground water coming up from under the house--in which case, a sump (or multiple sumps) can fix the issue. Is there a water supply line, or a sewer main in the area of the flooding? (either could be a source of water). Are there any large culverts, drainage ditches, street drains etc. near the house? (all are sources of water). What is the age of the property, what is the foundation made from, and what's the condition of the foundation? (water could possibly seep through cracks in a foundation wall).  Are the foundation walls exposed, and if so, can you see any cracks or signs of water dripping down a foundation wall? etc., etc., etc.

If the issue does seem to be ground water, don't be afraid to call in a hydrologist, who can help you better understand how to fix the problem. (I called in a hydrologist when I had flooding issues, and for a couple hundred bucks, he gave me info I used to fix the problem myself for about $3k--when it would have cost about $30-60k if I had relied on pros! So, he was definitely worth the fee).

And most importantly, try to stay positive--I found my flooding issues to be one of the more stressful things I've experienced as a real estate investor, but they usually CAN be fixed (once you discover the cause), and it is possible to bounce back (believe it or not--I was able to completely fix the flooding issue at my property, and it's now the highest-performing property in my portfolio, so it was worth the headache).

Let us know if you have questions--getting input from a lot of people can be useful as you try to figure out the source of the problem, and potential solutions.

Good luck out there!

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Mariah Porter
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Mariah Porter
Replied Jan 5 2023, 17:17

Thank you all for your thoughtful replies and advice. Several new developments have arisen as I've dug into this issue including a major sewage line blockage due to people flushing things down the toilet that shouldn't have been flushed. This was the cause of water coming up through the hidden drain. It is still attached and I'm planning on getting it capped off.

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Matthew Paul#4 Contractors Contributor
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Matthew Paul#4 Contractors Contributor
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Replied Jan 5 2023, 17:27
Quote from @Mariah Porter:

Thank you all for your thoughtful replies and advice. Several new developments have arisen as I've dug into this issue including a major sewage line blockage due to people flushing things down the toilet that shouldn't have been flushed. This was the cause of water coming up through the hidden drain. It is still attached and I'm planning on getting it capped off.

Have a plumber run a camera down the pipe to determine if its active sewer . Then ask his opinion if it should be capped with a threaded cap and be available as a clean out for the sewer . 

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Daniel Smyth
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Daniel Smyth
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Replied Jan 5 2023, 18:06

It looks to me as if there was some remodeling done. Quite possibly the previous owners had no idea. 

Funny, but before I saw that the drain was already once filed, I was thinking that I would have filled it as well.

What would I do? 

It's in a bedroom you probably do not need a floor drain in. Previous advice was to get a plumber to cap it off. This was advice I would have taken if I was not handy. If you are a bit handy, your best bet would be to visit your local True Value hardware store, and speak to the manager in the plumbing department. OK, I know this might sound goofy, but the older True Value ( and other named hardware stores) used to really train their employees!

It's worth a shot! 

The drain seems to be a problem because water leaks through it. It may leak moisture through the cracks in the filler, as sewer gasses do contain moisture. So, I can imagine the area getting wet, without a back-up so much. If you notice the two holes in the drain picture, this tells me that there is a P-Trap involved to help prevent sewer gas from coming up. However, once the water in the trap evaporates, the gasses will come!

What would I do? If this were my house, I would clean the train from rust. I would then use some spray foam inside both holes. When the foam cures, tape a clear sheet of plastic over the filled hole and monitor the plastic for a week. Be sure the plastic is sealed well with tape!

As the plumbing is used throughout the building, and especially when HOT water is used, check to see if the plastic rises. If the plastic rises, this means that AIR is coming through the drain! You want NO air coming out of that drain!

Yes, you could spend a few thousand bucks removing and capping the drain. Without being there myself, I figure that I would fill with foam until I am sure no air is coming from the drain into the house. Then I would use a floor patch to patch over the rest of the drain. Oh, Remove the plastic when you are sure air does not escape. 

I have been in construction many years. I can been on jobs where we just plugged up the holes with paper and cemented the hole flat. Sadly, many remodel jobs people do, are rarely returned to. I don't feel there was ill will in this failed repair. I bet it was a repair like most anyone of us might do because we just want to move the house and make a buck! 

All in all, be sure that you take care that you don't FILL the drain up with sand or cement, without something to ensure the whole drain works when you are done! Good luck. I wish I could be more help!

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Richard F.#1 Tenant Screening Contributor
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Richard F.#1 Tenant Screening Contributor
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Replied Jan 5 2023, 19:02
Often there may only be one floor drain in a basement. Larger basements might have two, but either way, that is the last and lowest access point in the line within the home waste system. If you successfully "seal" it, any backups due to blockage anywhere from the main floor all the way to the street will then eventually be forced to rise to your main floor toilet, showers, and sinks...before spilling out (or, if you have a washing machine standpipe in the basement, that will back up first). Also, from the OP's pic, it appears to be a typical cast iron floor drain, with the square headed pipe plug in the rim, above the pipe opening in the bottom. By removing that plug, which is specifically for clean out access, you have a straight shot into your main heading out to the street/septic for 3/4" cabling, rather than trying to bend a smaller 1/4" or 3/8" cable around through the trap before heading out. In other words, sealing it is a bad idea. You can get a check valve to screw into the open drain, which will prevent/minimize smaller backups, but they will not typically hold back a full on blockage with heavy water usage.