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I have a bit of an urgent situation forming. I recently purchased a house that's 55 years old, with "no history of basement leaks." Long story short - my basement flooded yesterday during a small rain storm. There was damage to stored boxes and it was quite a mess to clean up. Today is Tuesday, and we are expected to get major rain for four days starting Saturday. That gives me four days to find and fix the issue. I didn't see the water coming in, so I'm not 100% certain where it's leaking, but I have a few likely suspects.

I have time to do this job only once, and need to get it right. Correct product, procedure, and application the first time - or more flooding will occur. I've taken and marked several photos and I'm hoping for some advice.

I think the majority of the water is coming in though this old buried wire that's below grade. The outside end got snagged on a trencher last fall, and I think it may have pulled and broke previously applied sealant. Penetrating Wire

There are also several long cracks that have been previously sealed by the former owner. They are much deeper below grade, so I'm not sure if they'll leak once the higher holes are plugged. Some of the sealant seems to have come away from the foundation, as there are openings behind it. I've highlighted the location. Crack Sealant Sealant opening

Finally, when we look outside there are issues too. The previous homeowner installed some edging bricks, and I just noticed that sit about 1/2" proud of the grade. There is an inch of stone in the middle with some landscape cloth underneath. I suspect this only serves to keep water from running away from the foundation. My land slopes away from the house slightly, so it's graded well. I think this is becoming basically a swimming-pool when it rains. Draining issue

This is my current plan, but I'm open to any and all suggestions.

  1. Tonight, I'm going to flood that area with my hose and mark where water in infiltrating.
  2. I need to find and buy product to seal both the foundation and/or bulkhead.
  3. Friday, I plan to remove the edging bricks and remove the stone and fabric. Dig down to expose the wire and remove it. Plug the hole and seal.
  4. Scrape away loose sealant from the foundation and reseal. I'm hoping I can do this from the inside only, since digging down that far on the outside will be a huge chore.
  5. Build up the area around the bulkhead with topsoil to run water away from the area, and extend the gutter discharge about 18" away.

Does this sound like a plan that will work? I basically have one shot here before I'm in sump-pump territory.

  • Update: The water is definitely coming in through the wire penetration. The hole is in steel - so I'm going to dig down and seal it up from both sides. – Rick Apr 17 at 20:19
  • @TooTea - Done. Thanks for the reminder. – Rick May 20 at 14:17
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In the end - the issues was as I expected. I saturated the area with my garden hose and observed where the water was coming in - which was mostly through the wire penetration. enter image description here

I dug down to below the wire and removed the wire. I scrapped away the old sealing that had failed, and then used an angle grinder with a flap wheel to bring the hole to bare metal on both sides. enter image description here enter image description here

I created a rivet of JB Weld SteelStik and pushed it through the hole, smoothing it with my thumb on both sides. Once that had set - I coated both sides in a thin JB Weld Steel Epoxy. When both had dried rock hard, I painted them with metal primer.

For the long cracks - I scraped out the old sealant that was failing - and used the angle grinder again to clean the area out, removed rust and even the faces where the metal touched the steel. I filled the whole area with Dynaflex 230 waterproof sealant. I used a chip brush to really force the sealant into the crack and paint it on to the area. I then used a rubber detail tool to press it in, and smooth the bead. enter image description here

I got a big rain storm 2 days later, and everything I fixed held bone dry, but I did find 1-2 other small leaks that will need to be fixed used the same techniques.

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Water flows in the direction of least resistance.

Moisture is either coming up from below (a rising water table) or its coming from the surrounding ground water in the saturated soil.

If it comes up from a rising water table, it will enter the living space from below through the crack between the foundation wall and slab.

If it comes from the surrounding ground water, it COULD enter the living space through the wall, especially if the EXTERIOR side of the foundation wall is not sealed properly. Either way the moisture enters the living space it will need to be collected and disposed. I think the best way to collect it is on the exterior side of the foundation wall in drainrock and a perf pipe laid 6”-8” below the interior basement slab.

To keep the subsurface water from seeping through the wall, I recommend installing a moisture barrier on the exterior side of the foundation wall and install a 2” thick plastic mesh on the wall to allow water to flow down to the perfect pipe. If dirt is allowed to be backfilled against the wall, the dirt could hold the moisture giving it a chance to seep through the wall.

Once collected it needs to be disposed by extending a solid pipe over an embankment or in a collection well and pumped away.

This may be the most expensive method of solving the problem, but it’s sure to work.

  • Hi Lee - thanks for the advice. There is a 0% chance I can implement this solution in the next 4 days though - so I may need to find a different approach. – Rick Apr 16 at 19:03

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