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Question DetailsAsked on 2/23/2017

Fix cracked and leaking foundation basement wall in NE Ohio.

10 years ago we had a Structural Engineer (PE) look at our basement wall because it had a severe bow. He said it would probably be fine. 2 years later the wall almost collapsed. A company dug the exterior and the wall fell back into a 'normal' position. The company then placed rebar, cement/mixture into the block foundation about every other course. They applied a tar substance, new outside footer drain, gravel and outside sump pump. The company did nothing to the interior wall. Our problem is that water comes into the basement because they did a horrible waterproofing. Since they 'fixed' the wall it's not moved at all. Nice and straight I know want to fix the problem the most economical way. Of course building a new wall is probably the best option and most costly. Another option would be to dig the outside up and waterproof correctly, with tuck pointing and tuck point the interior. If I do this do you believe it will solve the problem or not. Structure and waterproof? thanks

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2 Answers



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Answered 3 years ago by Member Services


Sounds like maybe you missed a possible bet - when it collapsed (or evidently sagged pretty dramatically), you might have recovered some or maybe all the cost from the engineer's Errors and Omissions/Professional Liability insurance, if the initial bowing was really significant like you say - meaning a good many inches rather than one or two maybe.

Sounds like the work the contractor did was pretty normal for this sort of case - other than the subsequent leakage.

Because there is a footer drain, first thing I would look at is whether it is blocked or not - and of course if the sump pump is working. If the sump pump is not keeping the water level down, that is your problem. If sump pump is keeping water down near footing level, then could be the drain has plugged up - a Sewer and Drain company can clear that out if needed - and I would ask them to bring their camera to run through the drain to see if it is silted up (due to improper filtration around it) or blocked somehow - in which case it should be routed out. Also the camera will tell if the drain is actually draining out or is sitting with water in it - could be the sump pump is sitting too high or the float setting is too high and letting the water sit high outside the wall.

Basically speaking, if the drain was put at (or preferably below) the footing elevation, if it is draining then the adjacent wall should not be leaking - whether or not the bitumastic (the tarry coating) is actually waterproof or not.

Another possibility - if the footing drain was put too high, then it could be leaving water standing at the footing, which could then leak through the base of the wall or come up around the perimeter of the basement slab.

Another VERY common cause of this - the water is flowing to the foundation and coming in either down from the top behind the waterproofing, or over the top of the foundation wall (or at least above the bitumastic - either from the ground sloping towards the house so runoff piles up against the house, or from roof runoff falling right by the house. If as all possibly, the ground within 3-6 feet (preferably 6-10 feet) of the house (depending on how free-draining your soil is) should slope away from the house at least at a 2% slope and preferably 10%, and should be relatively impervious (or have an impervious liner under it if decorative rock or bark or such). If rainfall/snowmelt runoff water is running towards the house, then drainage swales or berms or french drains or a mixture in the yard is needed to keep it at leat 6 and preferably 10 feet away from the house.

Commonly this water getting right up against the foundation is from unguttered roof, blocked hence overflowing gutters or downspouts, or downspouts not directing the water so it drains away from the foundation - easy things to remedy.

Controlling roof runoff (normally your biggest water source unless you live basically in a swamp or low down in a floodplain) or controlling yard drainage if that is the source is the cheapest solution - look around when the basement is getting wet (assuming occurs only when it rains) to see where outside water is getting at the foundation - and of course when that is happening look and see if the sump pump is keeping the water level down to the level of the drain pipe. It may be the sump pump is not able to keep up with the inflow so the water level outside the foundation rises during heavy rains - in which case a second or larger sump pump would be the answer.

Or better yet, fi the sump is filling up at times, the best solution if topography allows is running the drain to a free air drainage point to eliminate the weak link - the pump. Of course, if you live in a hole, this may not be feasible. [Note - if you live in a freezing area, be sure then outlet of the drain is protected from frost - commonly by exiting through a several foot thick gravel bed to act as an outlet drain, covered over with filter fabric and sod or sometimes insulation board than sod as in insulator and to keep it clean.]

Next most expensive probably (but only if water is coming in at the slab perimeter) would be to put in subdrains under the basement slab, leading to an indoor sump pump. Do NOT fall for any proposal to punch through the foundation to the outside to drain the wate to the inside - cheaper, but that is inviting water into the house which is not coming in now, and might overload the sump pump in heavy rains - plus means if power is out, your basement floods much more quickly. Outside water should stay outside.

Most expensive solution - reexcavating the outside of the wall and putting on a full-surface (from outside edge of footing to top of foundation wall) membrane liner - usually applied over a sprayed bitumastic coating as a backup waterproofing and adhesive, then a roll bitumastic product is "glued" up to the wall with the sprayed bitumastic, the french drain rebuilt (to at least bottom of footing elevation at a minimum), then backfilled.

BTW - you said the contractor did nothing to the inside of the wall - other than a moisture-retardant coating to minimize water vapor transmission through the wall, most interior coatings do not work - the right place to attack the water is on the wetted surface - outside - keeping it out of the wall in the first place. .THis is especially true with block walls with their cavities, so they are far from waterproof in the first place.

Also - short of significant interior structural beams and columns and such, or tieback anchors - which scream trouble to potential buyers, the interior face carbon fiber or reinforcing or smear-on sheet repairs are not generally a viable solution - basically, the way they are commonly done has negligable if any structural effect. In my opinion, mostly snake oil.

You can find quite a few previous questions with responses in the Home > Basement Waterproofing link under Browse Projects, at lower left.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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