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Old July 8th, 2013, 04:29 PM   #1
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Question Michigan and water in basements?

Can it be defeated? Or should I order fill dirt and make a crawl space?


Back story: been looking at houses for 3 months. Every one of them has some level of damp or musty or even standing water.
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Old July 8th, 2013, 04:34 PM   #2
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Age of the homes?
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Old July 8th, 2013, 04:36 PM   #3
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are the houses your looking at empty? when i was looking at bank owned houses 3 years ago alot of them had power on and off so basements were flooded since sump pump had no power. hell the house i bought had a tree that had fallen on roof making a hole in it and was like that all winter with the heat on full blast. lol there are so many empty houses they cant keep up with checking on them anymore. my 2 cents.
i bought a slab but i really wanted a basement but could get what i wanted with the price i could spend.
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Old July 8th, 2013, 04:40 PM   #4
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I have a full basement, my parents have a full basement and neither of us have water problems.

A friend of mine has really high water where he is. He has a drain tile around his house that a sump pumps out. He had to drop another well, on the opposite diagonal corner that kicks on when the sump won't keep up.

I'd ask Skooterbuilt. I believe he is the residential basement expert.
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Old July 8th, 2013, 04:55 PM   #5
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Age of the homes?
every one I've looked at is pre-1970.
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Old July 8th, 2013, 04:59 PM   #6
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The drain tile usually stops working in older homes. I usually add a new inside drain system/basket/pump.
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Old July 8th, 2013, 05:04 PM   #7
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If you buy one good luck finding someone to fix it. I'm looking at one and called half a dozen contractors and sent pictures to see what can be done with it. One called me back two weeks later. Business must be good for them so plan accordingly.
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Old July 8th, 2013, 05:08 PM   #8
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The drain tile usually stops working in older homes. I usually add a new inside drain system/basket/pump.
Not super difficult to redo.... Rent a mini excavator, and invite friends over.
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Old July 8th, 2013, 05:17 PM   #9
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Keep in mind this has been an unusually wet season, so what you're seeing in most places can be assumed to be a near worst case scenario.

Are there any hills or grade work that will allow water to settle at the foundation?
Are the gutters on the house damaged or filled and plugged?
Are there downspouts missing?

This may sound painfully simple, but a missing downspout can cause flooding in almost any basement.
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Old July 8th, 2013, 05:34 PM   #10
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Older homes drain tile consists of 12" sections of clay pipe spaced about a half inch apart covered in pea gravel. Once the roots from trees and shrubs find them they don't have a prayer. I just went through this with my house this spring. Thankfully it was only the north end and the tile coming from the front of the house was only about a 1/4 filled with roots and was flowing fine.

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The fix is to dig it up and lay corrugated pipe with the filter sock. If the basement isn't ruined, beat them down on price and prepare to be able to sell a house with a dry basement.

My house was built in 1969.
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Old July 8th, 2013, 05:43 PM   #11
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Our house was built in 1921, the basement is dry.


... its a basement, not an indoor pool. There shouldn't be any water down there.
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Old July 8th, 2013, 06:00 PM   #12
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My patents basement was always moist and sweating. We had a good sump pump though so no standing water. Before we started to finish it we painted the walls with a sealer to keep the water at bay, and it worked.
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Old July 8th, 2013, 06:19 PM   #13
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Our basement would be completely dry if it wasn't for problems with the driveway. I'm also guessing that either the outside isn't sealed or the sealant has failed. Even with the rain this spring, we didn't get any flooding.

I don't intend to ever buy a house where a sump pump is the only hope for keeping a basement dry. For one, when do you suppose the power is most likely to go out? On a sunny day or a during a heavy storm?

Plenty of dry basements are damp and musty though. Basements just tend to be humid and a lot are not sealed well. The "dry" air inside the house simply draws moisture from the earth. Anything that stops or slows the that flow helps, whether a vapor barrier or sealant. I'm sure it doesn't help that a lot of unfinished basements don't have a cold air intake, so air movement is minimal and the dampness isn't vented out.
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Old July 8th, 2013, 06:45 PM   #14
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Our basement would be completely dry if it wasn't for problems with the driveway. I'm also guessing that either the outside isn't sealed or the sealant has failed. Even with the rain this spring, we didn't get any flooding.

I don't intend to ever buy a house where a sump pump is the only hope for keeping a basement dry. For one, when do you suppose the power is most likely to go out? On a sunny day or a during a heavy storm?

Plenty of dry basements are damp and musty though. Basements just tend to be humid and a lot are not sealed well. The "dry" air inside the house simply draws moisture from the earth. Anything that stops or slows the that flow helps, whether a vapor barrier or sealant. I'm sure it doesn't help that a lot of unfinished basements don't have a cold air intake, so air movement is minimal and the dampness isn't vented out.
There are solutions for that. My friend, that I referenced earlier, has a battery alert system on it that once water in the pit reaches a certain level, it goes into audio alarm, and then starts calling up to 5 preset phone numbers. Theory is that if you aren't home, you can either get your ass there, or have somebody scoot over and hook up a small generator.
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Old July 8th, 2013, 06:51 PM   #15
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The drain tile usually stops working in older homes. I usually add a new inside drain system/basket/pump.
Doesn't this mean the water has to continually compromise the basement walls? I thought this practice was bad because the wall will erode and eventually crack or cave?
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Old July 8th, 2013, 06:54 PM   #16
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are the houses your looking at empty? when i was looking at bank owned houses 3 years ago alot of them had power on and off so basements were flooded since sump pump had no power. hell the house i bought had a tree that had fallen on roof making a hole in it and was like that all winter with the heat on full blast. lol there are so many empty houses they cant keep up with checking on them anymore. my 2 cents.
i bought a slab but i really wanted a basement but could get what i wanted with the price i could spend.
some are empty, some not. The power is still on at every house I've looked at. All of them have had working sump pumps but the basements are still damp and/or have some standing water. They've all had mold on the walls too so it's probably not just one bad season.
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Old July 8th, 2013, 07:01 PM   #17
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Doesn't this mean the water has to continually compromise the basement walls? I thought this practice was bad because the wall will erode and eventually crack or cave?
No it goes under the wall and under the floor into the drain tiles.
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Old July 8th, 2013, 07:03 PM   #18
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If you buy one good luck finding someone to fix it. I'm looking at one and called half a dozen contractors and sent pictures to see what can be done with it. One called me back two weeks later. Business must be good for them so plan accordingly.
Yeah I don't know if it's "too busy" or if the bug of nobody wanting to work anymore. I've called a couple of electricians to stop by my current house and let me know how much to fix a bunch of problems and neither bothered to show. All they had to do was show up and they got the job but apparently even that was too much trouble.
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Old July 8th, 2013, 07:33 PM   #19
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some are empty, some not. The power is still on at every house I've looked at. All of them have had working sump pumps but the basements are still damp and/or have some standing water. They've all had mold on the walls too so it's probably not just one bad season.
Fact is that water can be prevented in many homes basements with proper irrigation....unless they live near homes on higher ground with good water displacement.

I have lived within a stones throw of Lake Erie in what is essentially a peninsula with homes and basements... some are no chance in hell of being dry...other are just neglected.

My home got water through the storm drain for the first time 2 days ago and I have been here 13 years. No sump pump, good drainage....wet year for sure.
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Old July 8th, 2013, 08:09 PM   #20
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My home was built in 1913 it has no sub-pump and I've only had one problem with water. What I have found is that if my gutters are clear and the the down spouts are about 3-5 feet from the house my basement will stay bone dry, but if one of the down spouts become disconnected I will get a little water in the house. Also make sure that the landscaping around the house slops away the house and not towards it. I also run a dehumidifier in the summer and that keeps the musty smell down as well. When I had my final house inspection the inspector used a PCE-555 hydrometer to measure the actual dampness of the concrete which was dry as a bone but did at first have that musty smell.
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