Recently purchased a new home and am noticing that there appears to be what seems to be an issue with water seeping through the foundation in the basement. Shortly after a decent rain the wall will start to look damp, after longer periods without rain the wall will dry out until it rains again (I have cleaned the wall and efflorescence will return). Interestingly, the water seepage is isolated in only one area of the basement behind the front porch steps, with the width and height of the efflorescence corresponding with the outside grade and width of the porch.

The front steps have a concrete foundation and I have tried digging a ~2.5 foot (deep) ditch starting at the corner of the steps/house and running out on both sides of the steps to help drain water away, but this doesn't seem to have helped, water does not pool in the ditches after it rains so it is flowing away there.

I'm located in NJ and the soil is very clay-like, which I know can also create drainage issues. Additional notes: House was built in ~1980, unfinished basement, does not have an active sump pump or other built in drainage, the sprinklers in the below pictures are shut off, when digging out one of the ditches I found a chipmunk den (know that can be a water highway..).

I'm wondering if I should try digging out more along the sides of the front steps (perpendicular to the house)? Could there be a 'pocket' under the stairs that is allowing water to flow in from other areas? Any suggestions?

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  • Can you edit in the approximate age of your house, whether the basement is finished, some photos of the soil/flowerbed grade next to the house? Also, do you have a sump pump, french drain, or other water-handling system? Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 18:44
  • When there is water on the outside of a concrete wall, some of it will seep in. The first thing to do is check your outside drainage so that no water is draining into the area next to the foundation.
    – jwh20
    Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 18:59
  • With block walls I have found the only way to keep them dry is removing dirt sealing from the outside and back filling with river rock, you have a good start go as deep as you can and make sure nothing happens to be draining under the porch you may need a small sump well to the side of the porch that you can pump away from the house, great start and good question with photos+++
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 22:09

1 Answer 1


If diverting the rainwater away from the house doe not stop this problem, potentially the problem is caused by the fluctuation of the groundwater, or there is a spring near that corner of the house, provides the basement wall wasn't adequately waterproofed. Unless you don't mind wasting your money by trying some fixes, the proper way is to involve a Civil Engineer to pinpoint the source of the problem and find a feasible, yet durable and economical solution.

As a homeowner myself, I might be tempted to grout the block wall solid, wait and see before resort to hiring an engineer. Also, you shall keep the basement well ventilated. Good luck.

  • Block walls are almost impossible to seal, plus it is under the porch.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 22:11
  • Grouting the block wall is tricky, but can be done from the basement. I don't know the availability of knowledgeable contractors and the prevalent cost, but if it is much less than outside excavation, I'll consider it an alternative to more costly options.
    – r13
    Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 22:28
  • Thanks everyone! Sounds like I should keep going with the ditch and focus around the porch since that's where the water is primarily seeping. Any thoughts/comments on products like DryLok for the interior basement wall? Will that help or is that more of a short term-fix?
    – Greg
    Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 13:36
  • I gave you Greg's "thanks" up vote since he's an unregistered user and will probably never be back. ;)
    – FreeMan
    Commented Sep 3, 2021 at 12:33

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