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We have a below-grade basement and a exit door. There are concrete steps to the door, parallel to the house (so on your right is the house) and on the left is a brick wall. The steps appear to have been poured as one unit. However, over time it appears the whole assembly has shifted, both to the left, and then the top has sunk down. The effect of this is that water pools in some of the steps (away from the house). As part of a landscaping project, we were able to put in a little drain on the top most step, but it is not optimal (and also doesn't do anything for the other steps).

Here's a picture of the area:top step showing water pool

Seeing as how a similar condition persists on almost every step, what are the options for fixing this? This area does not get a lot of sun either, so it doesn't dry naturally very well.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Here are some options:

  1. Keep a broom nearby and sweep away excess water. While this does not actualy fix anything, it will eliminate the excess water.
  2. Create a drain. Drill a hole at the lowest spot of each step for the water to escape to. This solution is not optimal and may only alleviate the problem. One will need a masonry bit and hammer drill to get through the step. Also consider the effects of having water being drained under the step, which also may not be optimal.
  3. Level the steps. There are some low spots, so another layer of concrete on top should allow the water to escape to a drain below the steps. However, getting a consistent and durable finish across all the steps will be a challenge.
  4. Refinish the steps. Add a new finish on top of the concrete and in the process eliminate the low spots so the water does not pool on each step. As a plus the drab lichen colored gray would be updated.
  5. Rip out the entire thing and replace/redo with a better step/drainage solution.

I'd probably go with step 4 provided the settling has stopped. If the foundation is no good or drainage is not adequate, then option 5 would probably be the best.

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If the entire structure has shifted then you should be able to lift it back up. There are companies out there who specialize in this; often you see it done on sidewalks. The process is pretty simple - they drill a hole in the concrete and pump a concrete slurly underneeth at high pressure to bring the low side back up to level. After then are done, the fill the hole with concrete.

I don't think this is a DIY job but I also don't think its overly expensive to have done.

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What you may want to do is consider modifying the bottom of the stairs. Depending on your soil composition and other factors, it might be worth excavating about 1 foot deep under the bottom-most landing: you would fill the space with sand, to take the water up, and then you could put a metal grate over it to walk on. Poured concrete footers on the sides could support the grate, for example.

Depending on your application, you might also want to use paving stones or something of that nature instead; Lastly, you'll want to make sure to bury cloth under the surface of the sand to interfere with plant growth, and the change will mean that plant growth will have to be curbed manually, from time to time.

Other options include applying a French drain, which is much like the sand solution I describe above, but employs larger rocks, and likely more excavation. The key thing to remember is that you will want to make a point of drawing water away from the foundation of the structure.

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