Q: My problem has to do with a few fissure-type cracks in the concrete basement floor. When we get day-after-day monsoon marathons, the...
Q: My problem has to do with a few fissure-type cracks in the concrete basement floor. When we get day-after-day monsoon marathons, the water reaches a saturation point, and the hydraulic pressure pushes the water through the tiny fissures into the basement. The water coming through the cracks even has a few mini-fountains. Thus, out comes the wet-vac and mop.
I have addressed downspouts to make sure the roof water has been diverted away from the foundation. One of the basement window wells has a tendency to fill during these monsoons, even though I have a cover over it. The window-well problem has just developed in the past year.
How does one address the fissure basement-floor cracks? The cracks are so narrow that I doubt one could squeeze in a cement caulk. Do I need to chisel out and/or open up the crack so I can re-cement? Break out the area in question and repour with concrete? The area is close to an outside corner and consists of about two cracks 12-14 inches in length.
For the window well, should I dig below it (2 feet) and put in a plastic pipe that would serve as a drain and have it dump out elsewhere?
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The surface does not slant toward the house; it’s level and consists of gravel.
A: Ah, yes. No calendar necessary to know what season it is, judging from the types of questions that roll on through about now. Wow. Fountains. That’s a fresh one.
Before delving in, it seems you have eliminated the low-hanging fruit by dealing with your external water-management issues. That’s always the first step.
Fissure cracks are chiseled out and fixed with one of the numerous types of hydraulic patching cement products (Zypex, Plug and others are available widely). These products will stop water actively running out of a crack. However, I can’t say I have ever sealed up a spewing fountain — but would sure like to try just for the experience!
That said, as you have numerous leaks and obviously tremendous hydraulic pressure, the moment you seal a leak, another will open up in a different location. You could be chasing down leaks until you have turned your basement into a virtual boat hull.
Don’t get me wrong — turning it into a boat hull is attainable, and maybe even desirable, but as anyone in the business can tell you, boats are expensive, in need of regular maintenance and they all have bilges and bilge pumps. So skip the boat portion and go right to the pump.
Giving the water an internal “path of least resistance” is a typical repair for this type of situation — it’s least disruptive to landscape, and brings consistent results.
No, this is not a Saturday homeowner project. A channel is cut along the interior perimeter of your basement floor by a waterproofing contractor, and a gravel-filled drainage channel added. Concrete is then patched back into place. The water is collected in the channel and fed to a pump or drained away by gravity (if possible).
Depending on size and complexity, you are looking at $3,000-$6,000.
Darrell Hay is a local home inspector and manages several rental properties. Send e-mail to email@example.com. Sorry, no personal replies.