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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We have lived in our little old country home at the top of a knoll for 5 years. All that time we never had a leak in the half finished basement. Even put a bedroom & family room down there.

This year, however, has been very very wet. In the spring we had a ton of ice and snow on the ground then we had about 3 days of constant rain. There was still frost deep in the ground. The water started coming up from the base of the walls in the basement - where the bricks meet the cement. Also it boiled up between the seams of the floor. You'd think we were sitting on a bog. The water kept coming in for almost a week.

We dug a pit and put in a sump pump and had no more problems until this past Saturday - again with the layers of melting ice and snow and a day of steady downpour, but the ground is frozen deep down. The water is still coming in today - up out of the floor - no leaks through the brick walls.

The thing is that the house is a hundred years old and the cement floor in the basement was likely added later. The floor is not evenly sloped and the water is coming up from a part of the basement that is not angling toward the sump pump. The pump is in the lowest spot - but the floor has some high spots. So my husband and I end up sweeping water from one side of the basement to the other until the ground has been completely dry or frozen solid again for a handful of days.

What can we do? Is there some way to dig down around the foundation and install a drain tile of some sort? Should we just try to seal the floor? It is important to us to have a usable basement and not have to haul everything out that touches the floor 2 or 3 times a year.

I could really use some serious voices of experience here. HELP!
 

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It's a shame posts don't last long here. The solutions have been posted many times. The first thing is to have good gutters and downspouts and pipe the water far enough away that it can't drain back to the house. The ground next to the house has to be sloped so it also directs water away from the house. Those are the easiest things to correct. If that doesn't help or you don't have those problems, it gets more expensive.

the ultimate fix is to trench down the outside of your basement walls to below the basement slab and install a french drain that directs the water to a point where it can flow downhill. Something you might try first is to dig a deeper sump pit. Most pits aren't deep enough. I'd get a piece of large diameter pipe, set in your existing pit and start digging with a post hole digger that will go down at least 6 feet. By pumping water from that low of a point you may lower the phreatic surface, water table, enough that it's way below the bottom of your basement floor.

As you dig shove the piece of pipe down so you have a casing for the pit.
 

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The problem probably has to do with the soil being too frozen to accept the melting snow.
It's possible that the tiles around the basement are cracked. Since this is the first time that flooding has happened, cracked tile is probably not the problem. Once the land is dry enough, you need to dig around the house and lay tile. If you call around, I'm sure you can find someone who knows what they are doing to tile for you. They should also know who to work the land to divert rain water away from the house
 

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To fix it the right way is what you mentioned, trench around the house, install waterproofing membrane and sealer on the basement walls, install drain tile (the good PVC stuff, not black flex) and backfill with washed gravel surrounded by a geotextile fabric. Since you are on a knoll you can run your drain tile to a daylight exit so you will not need to rely on the sump pump. Of course you will also tie the downspouts from the roof gutters into this system, not directly into the tile but join them in after the tile so they can drain to the same exit. Since you already have the sump pit installed, I'd leave it there for backup, but I think with a properly installed drainage system, you will not get any water in it.

An alternate solution is to break up the cement around the preimeter of the basement slab and install a tile all around the basement, draining into your sump pit. This should help with the water coming up from the floor *IF* you have a good gravel bed under the floor. But this way you will still rely on the sump pump and be subject to flooding due to mechanical breakdown or power loss.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you both very much for your help!

We do have long tile running from the bottom of our down spouts to direct the water running off the roof far from the foundation. So the deeper sump pit and the tile or french drain installation is probably next on the list.

I really appreciate your responses.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
cfabe-

Wow! Thank you for the detailed description! I'll be printing this all out for husband to look over when he gets home. It will be great to get this taken care of so we don't have to dread every big thaw from now on.

We have a big old cistern and I wonder if we could install the tiles to drain into it? Years before we bought the place they had terracotta pipe running from the down spouts into the cistern to collect rain water. It still holds water very well. Maybe this could be a solution to a problem and a nice way to store water, too.
 

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How good is your basement floor?

If you have the typical "old country house" foundation, digging down from the outside, may cause more foundation damage, plus you may not be able to full seal it against leaking.

If your basement floor is not that great, busting it out, installing perimiter drain to a sump-pump pit and pouring a new floor, can be a reasonably priced solution for a dry basement.

If it is good, then the floor can be cut (6") along the wall and the drain and sump pit installed. Add concrete to fill in the cut.

We have this project also on our endless to-do list.

Good luck.
 
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