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Basement leaks II

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  • Basement leaks II

    Answered a service call today for "a leaking water service". Went into the basement with the HO and was quite startled to see a foundation block wall with a very significant bulge leaning into the basement. Maybe a half gallon of water (not very much probably thanks to the water proofing) on the floor had leaked between 7:00 am and 4:00 pm. Water service was obviously leaking behind the bulging wall as I could hear it running. The bulge was probably at least 6" off of center (I'm guessing, I didn't measure) and had caused the stud wall, which was parallel, to reflect the same bulge. The stud wall looked like it was about to snap. Their is a ground level deck outside covering the location where the water service enters the basement. This has apparantly been a problem in the past (owner has had this 1980 house for only one year. Surprise!) because the first 5 deck boards closest to the house are fastened with deck screws whereas all the rest are nailed. Started to make the repair but didn't have a very good feeling about disturbing saturated soil behind a very weak wall so I questioned HO about what arrangements she had made to get a foundation repair company out to look at it. She said she had called one from the yps (by the way that's what people do when they don't know a company to call either through experience or referal) but had not heard back from them yet. I informed HO that we needed to get the leak stopped (which of course she already knew) because it was just adding more and more weight behind the wall but that I was very concerned about trying to repair it before the foundation company said it would be ok. I think that it probably would be ok but I certainly didn't want to sink my shovel into that ground only to wind up in the middle of 5 tons of mud and block in the middle of her basement floor. So she will call me back after she gets the ok from the foundation pros.

    Who would have gone on and made the repair?

    Who would have done what I did?

    Who would have done something else? What?

  • #2
    Without being on the job it is hard to say for sure what I would have done. I believe I would have tried to find a way to relieve the pressure on the wall though. The easiest and fastest way would have been to drill a 1/2" hole through the basement wall and collect the water and pump it out. If the wall did not appear it would take the drilling I would have tried to dig a pit a little deeper and a safe distance away and pumped the water that percolated over to the new ditch. Either way if the basement wall is not structurally strong enough to handle a leaking water main it probably was built wrong to begin with.

    Mark
    "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

    I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

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    • #3
      I think you made a good call. I would leave any drilling in the wall up to the pro’s that do that- I don’t want that responsibility. Sounds like they have a mess on their hands.
      One of the best lessons I learned from my father is when he did nothing to help me. I then learned to help my self.

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      • #4
        I would have Dug it up depending on how deep it was, to try and stop water leak. I don't see how letting it continue to leak (verses stopping the leak) helps or hurts the wall anymore than it was already. Or the other option would be leave HO meter key to shut water off and on as they needed until wall was repaired.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by tnoisaw
          I think you made a good call. I would leave any drilling in the wall up to the pro’s that do that- I don’t want that responsibility. Sounds like they have a mess on their hands.
          The problem is depending on the soil conditons the water is continuing to do damage to the foundation whether the water main is on or not. The only way I can imagine the wall could deflect as noted is if it is unreinforced cinderblock with exspansive soil. In that case I would dig a sump pit away from the bulge and let the water drain into the sump and pump it out. Drilling a 1/2" hole in reinforced poured in plce concrete should not create a problem.

          Mark
          "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

          I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

          Comment


          • #6
            This wall had clearly been backfilled to the top and is also clearly not a reinforced or poured wall. You can plainly see where each individual block in the affected area is seperating from its mortar joints both vertically and horizontally. The affected area is at least 15' wide and runs from top to bottom. It resembles what you might see if you took a bowl of left overs covered with celophane (sp?) and turned it upside down. I'm actually kind of worried that the stud wall is the only thing holding it back. I'm pretty sure that if you took a straight 2x4 and tried to bend an arc of this degree in it, it would snap (and remember this is along the wide side) but because it has happened over a period of time, the studs have adjusted slowly. It's a shame because this is an otherwise beautiful little house and seems to be well made with this collosal exception. Of course I haven't inspected the whole house and am not even qualified to do so but what I saw of it seemed very nice. The lady called me back this morning and wants to kill that water service and run a new one to enter at the opposite wall, which, with respect to the meter location was where it should have come in anyway. At first that might seem like overkill but the leak needs to be stopped quickly before it gets any worse and she doesn't really want to just repair the leak only to possibly have another leak develop later (it's pretty obvious that this is not the first time a leak has occured at this location) causing her to have the same problem all over again. This is fine with me since I really don't want to have anything at all to do with that bulging wall. I'm just glad it was her idea to run the new service.

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            • #7
              I guess it goes w/o saying that the water was turned off soon after this was discovered, but some of what you have said in your last post makes it sound as if that might not be the case. If not that is certainly the first move, as letting the water continue to undermine the foundation is of course very bad.

              I think Marks idea of digging a sump some distance away and deeper than the leak will work to relieve some hydraulic pressure from the wall by allowing the water to drain to that point where it can be pumped out.

              Reinforcing the floor above the affected area might be a good idea too. Some temporary 4x4 post supports set a few feet in from the wall would help. Give them some added bearing surface by resting them on a 2x6 or wider plank laid over the concrete floor and top them off with another 2x or 4x just below the joists. Of course if the wall blows out it could take this temporary support with it.

              Legally for you it is probably best to not make any suggestions other than she get the water shut off and call a contractor with expertise in this area. I of course am not such a person :-) I'm just thinking out loud some of the possibilities I might consider in the same situation.
              ---------------
              Light is faster than sound. That's why some people seem really bright until you hear them speak.
              ---------------
              “If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber.” - Albert Einstein
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              "Its a table saw.... Do you know where your fingers are?"
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              Comment


              • #8
                The situation sound similar to a situation my Rescue squad responded to a few years ago. This wasn’t due to a water leak but heavy rain bad landscaping and poor drainage arund the foundation. The homeowner said that the wall had developed a bulge in it during the day and they were going to have someone look at it the next day. There was some water infiltration through the block. Several hours later the homeowner heard a loud crash in the basement, upon investigation the homeowner found a 25’ section of the foundation had collapsed in from the bulge and kicked out on the bottom as well. A large amount of mud and water came in with the collapse. The owner call 9-1-1 and ended up shoring up the first floor with a large amount of 4x4 bracing. The local building inspector required the homeowner to leave the property until a contractor completely repaired the collapsed wall. I think that if the local code official saw what your are describing he may feel that the home is unsafe to live in until the repair is made. As Bob D. said I hope that the water has been shut off that should help alleviate some of the pressure on the wall over time. I do think that you were wise to not disturb the soil near the wall or do anything to the wall as a catastrophic failure could occur. Depending on which wall it is if it fails the structural stability of the floor above could be severely compromised.

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