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Water in the basement....

megumic

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Mar 8, 2009
Messages
1,647
As many of you know, we've been on the fence about purchasing a house due to a back-story I won't recount here. Anyway, we have a finalized contract with the seller and closing is in one month. We had our inspection and there is water in the basement! :nono: ;( :angryfire: :errrr:

It was not a substantial amount, a few tiny puddles and some marks indicating water had been there recently, but water nonetheless. We are going to have an expert come look at it to see what can/should be done with a quote of costs, and then will go back to the sellers to ask for them to cover it.

I want to know what you've experienced with water in your basement -- whether you've had it, how often, how you dealt with it, what solved your wet basement, what it has cost you in the cumulative, etc, etc. Any and all advice, insight and direction is appreciated! I never had a basement growing up and we're feeling clueless! Thanks in advance!
 

maplefemme

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
May 12, 2011
Messages
874
Is the sale conditional to the home inspection?
I have built a few houses but I have never purchased pre owned. However, I know a few people who have run into this problem, my boss is currently dealing with it in his own house he is trying to sell.
How old is this house and where are you?
Is it still under warranty?
Is it undeveloped?
Depending on why it's getting water in there, if it's pipes or if it's the foundation, I would find out what the experts say and I'd get at least two quotes to find out if this is an easy one-time fix or if this is going to be something that keeps coming up.
If you go ahead with the purchase and get it fixed, ask how long the company who fixes it will warranty the work for, some won't even warranty work on leaky basements.
I would personally be turned off from buying a property that I know has a leaky basement. It can be a perpetual problem and I don't want to worry every time it rains that my basement is going to leak and I have to rip up carpets so they don't get mould, or worse, have to make an insurance claim to replace carpet, drywall, and baseboards, etc.
Find out exactly why it's leaking and get a competent pros opinion.
Check out the BBB before you commit to someone and see if they stand by their work.


Good luck!
 

centralsquare

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
2,201
I suggest getting a mold test. Mold can be very harmful and ultimately expensive (and disruptive) to deal with. Do they know where the water came from?
 

chemgirl

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Sep 16, 2009
Messages
2,163
In my experience, water in the basement is usually a hassle and expensive to fix.

My sister had the best case scenario and her water problems were fixed with parging and new eavestroughs. It cost them a few thousand and so far its done the trick. My old house was another story. The foundation was cracked and someone down the line had tried to seal it with grout. Obviously this didn't work and it got really really bad. At first it was just a bit of water, but after one big storm the floodgates let loose (hehe) and I had about six inches of water. It was a finished basement so I had to change all of the carpets and baseboards. I also had to have one side of the house dug up and repaired properly (expensive!). Unfortunately, there was more than one crack and the water was back within 6 months (the first guy didn't properly diagnose the problem). So the end I had to have the entire foundation dug up and repaired. I was warned during this process that the repairs may not hold long term. It worked, but I was out more than $20 000 (insurance covered some of the damage, but not the foundation repair). Now my grandmother is having the same problem and there's a new leak ever 2-3 years or so. She will have to disclose to a future seller so it will negatively impact her property value.

After my experience, I would run from any sign of water in the basement. If you want to proceed, get an evaluation from more than one inspector and then get several quotes. With basements, sometimes its hard to see the extent of the problem until the work starts so be prepared for that.

ETA: if its a foundation problem and the sellers are willing to deal with it, push to get the entire foundation inspected. It will destroy the landscaping, but it will decrease the chances that you'll have another leak a few years down the line.
 

Aoife

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 23, 2010
Messages
1,779
We've owned two houses that had water in the basement. In one, the water was a one-time deal that was the fault of the city--the city paid for cleanup, and for the loss of furniture, etc. In that case, a pumping station failed, and water came up drains. It was still a huge, enormous pain to get fixed, and we had to disclose it when we sold the house, which was the one thing on the disclosure statement a large number of prospective buyers asked about.

The other house was in an area that used to be swamp land (practically everything in the city was swampland), so everyone had either a sump pump or a beaver specifically designed to deal with fluctuating ground water levels. One very rainy spring our sump pump couldn't keep up with the water, and although we got it professionally cleaned up, replaced the sump pump, and so on, it very definitely affected the value of the house when we sold it. We bought both those houses back in the early days of our house buying adventures, and we learned that anything that has to do with water in a basement should be avoided at all costs. No matter how careful and conservative the professional is who comes in the evaluate, they absolutely can't know how big a problem you have until they start work. And if you ever try to sell the house, for a lot of people (like me) a basement that has ever, ever had water in it is a deal-breaker. Just don't underestimate what you're getting in to if you decide to proceed.
 

somethingshiny

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 22, 2007
Messages
6,746
We bought our house knowing there was "slight moisture during heavy rains." However, there is substantially more than slight moisture. Our basement gets 1-2" of water in spots EVERY time it rains and lots of water after the winter thaw. We worked around the low spots and put our storage items up on plastic grates to keep them above water level. Last summer, we had a flood that flooded our basement. We lost over $10,000 worth of items and were only insured for $6,000. Everything we have is on pallets and plastic shelves. Our basement is damp pretty much all the time. Our laundry is down there and it gets mildewed very quickly because of the moisture. If a wet towel gets thrown in the hamper and then left in the basement for a day or so, the whole basket smells mildewy. It is such a pain in the butt. We have tried several sealants that don't work in the long run. Our current goal is a spray on rubberized lining, like you would use in a truck bed, but it's very expensive and I don't know when we'll be able to do it. Also, we have high levels of radon. Radon is either in the ground where you live or it isn't. But, it seems to be that if the barrier was better, our levels would be lower and we wouldn't have to foot the bill on a reduction system too. I will never again buy a home that has any moisture problems.
 

packrat

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 12, 2008
Messages
10,615
I guess it would depend on the cause of it. Does it get water every time it rains an inch? Or was there a huge dumping of rain that the gutters couldn't hold, or ongoing rain? Was there a missing window well cover? (that happened to us during a gully washer) At some point I think every house that has a basement, gets water in it. Houses here that haven't had water in the basements in 30 or more years got water last year b/c of the amount of rain we got. You could maybe check w/people in the neighborhood too and see what their experience w/water in the basement is..our neighborhood "never" has problems, and we did last year, and there are 3 neighborhoods I can think of right off the bat here that have a lot of problems w/it that were worse last year. Make sure there are spouts at the end of the gutters so the water isn't going directly down the foundation but rather being directed away from the house. I know of a couple places people complaining they'd never had a problem and then suddenly they did-only to realize they'd painted or whatever and forgot to put the rain spouts back on.
 

NewEnglandLady

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 27, 2007
Messages
6,299
We backed out of one of our offers once we found out there was water in the basement. As our inspector said "water in the basement is the demise of a house". BUT, we were looking at antiques, which I think makes the water issue more critical.

The sellers did offer to put in a $10K sump pump system once they learned we were backing out, so if I were you, I would probably explore the option of having the sellers remedy the problem or give you a credit in the amount a remedy would cost.

I agree with the PPs who said you should probably find out the extent of the water. What I did was get the number of the water heater repair service they used and I found out the water heater had been repaired twice due to basement flooding. That was obviously a huge red flag. If the water damage is so extensive that the systems in the basement need to be serviced for flooding, I would probably walk away.
 

Clairitek

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 21, 2008
Messages
4,881
NewEnglandLady|1311088202|2972219 said:
We backed out of one of our offers once we found out there was water in the basement. As our inspector said "water in the basement is the demise of a house". BUT, we were looking at antiques, which I think makes the water issue more critical.

The sellers did offer to put in a $10K sump pump system once they learned we were backing out, so if I were you, I would probably explore the option of having the sellers remedy the problem or give you a credit in the amount a remedy would cost.

I agree with the PPs who said you should probably find out the extent of the water. What I did was get the number of the water heater repair service they used and I found out the water heater had been repaired twice due to basement flooding. That was obviously a huge red flag. If the water damage is so extensive that the systems in the basement need to be serviced for flooding, I would probably walk away.[/quote]

Really great advice on this thread. Especially that last bit about looking into the repair history of the systems down there.

Our sellers disclosed the same thing as SomethingShiny's sellers- "slight moisture during heavy rain." We could see the water spots when we did the inspection. For the first year and a half we lived there the water in the basement was just that- slight moisture in heavy rain. A smallish puddle in the same spot when we had a lot of rain. Then we had a winter with an insane amount of snow and water started coming into the house in two other spots and it would turn into quite the river in heavy rain, or the worst- heavy rain after 20" of snow. :errrr: Luckily we were able to use proper basement sealer to plug those holes up and thankfully we sold at the end of a relatively dry summer so the basement didn't get water in it again. Though, our water was a trickle or thin stream, not flooding, as we had a drain that went right into our main waste pipe (house was built in the 1940's when I'm sure home builders didn't fool themselves into thinking that the basements would be totally sealed and water-free). All of our appliances (washer, dryer, water heater, and oil burner) were all up on blocks to prevent damage. Come to think of it, the two spots that opened up after we had lived there for a year and a half were near windows in the basement.

Is the home empty? Can you go back to the house after it has rained really heavily (like within a few hours?). I ditto the comment about looking into mold issues. That is probably one of the things that would make me walk away from a house.
 

vsc

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Dec 7, 2010
Messages
104
I have a house from the 40s and it used to have lots of water in the basement. You can tell because the washer and dryer are on blocks and there are water marks at the bottom of the support beams (also the neighbors said there used to be some major water in there).
The water is from the house being buried on one side, on a slope where water flows...
It is very common here. A lot of houses have similar issues and it's very humid year-round.

The previous owner had a patented drain system with sump pump installed. It's like a covered trench that runs along the bottom of the walls and collects the water then sends it to a sump pump. It cost about $8000 maybe 8 years ago, and the house is quite small. It's kept the water out - when it rains hard you can hear the pump work almost constantly, but in several years it's always kept up. I'm always stressing out that there would be a power outage during a storm or that the breaker would trip when I'm out of town, because then we'd be talking about major flooding.

Despite getting all the water pumped out, it is still very humid when it rains a lot. I have to run a dehumidifier (energy star, but still costs about $50 a month to run when it rains a lot). My basement has unfinished, concrete floors.
My neighbor's house was built by the same person and had the same issue; instead of the drain system inside the house they dug outside of the house and put down gravel. They have a partially finished basement and no humidity issues.

I think it's not too much of an issue if the basement is unfinished and if it is an occasional occurrence, or if it is really exceptional, or if it is common in houses in the area. If the previous owner can take care of it, you might not have any problems in the future, but humidity can still remain. However, if there are lots of other houses that are dry, I would choose a house without water in the basement. Humidity can be a big problem. We're talking mold everywhere, towels never drying in the bathroom, musty smells, etc.

Hope this helps...
 

somethingshiny

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 22, 2007
Messages
6,746
Our basement has a concrete floor and walls and the trenches that flow into a drain and a sump pump well. Still have water issues. Do as much research as you can about the extent of the previous water. Also, I forgot to mention earlier, the reason we had insurance is because I researched our property and found it has a high water table. That is a huge issue with wet basements. If the water table is high, it doesn't take much more water to put it too high for your basement. I got the info through my realtor.
 

chemgirl

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Sep 16, 2009
Messages
2,163
packrat|1311087082|2972208 said:
I guess it would depend on the cause of it. Does it get water every time it rains an inch? Or was there a huge dumping of rain that the gutters couldn't hold, or ongoing rain? Was there a missing window well cover? (that happened to us during a gully washer) At some point I think every house that has a basement, gets water in it. Houses here that haven't had water in the basements in 30 or more years got water last year b/c of the amount of rain we got. You could maybe check w/people in the neighborhood too and see what their experience w/water in the basement is..our neighborhood "never" has problems, and we did last year, and there are 3 neighborhoods I can think of right off the bat here that have a lot of problems w/it that were worse last year. Make sure there are spouts at the end of the gutters so the water isn't going directly down the foundation but rather being directed away from the house. I know of a couple places people complaining they'd never had a problem and then suddenly they did-only to realize they'd painted or whatever and forgot to put the rain spouts back on.
Not all! My parents have been in the same house for over 30 years and so far so good. Some of their neighbors have horrible water issues though. Their house is on a slight elevation compared to the rest of the neighborhood and that's something I look for now when I look at houses.

Every house I've lived in other than my parent's place has had severe water issues.
 

soocool

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 10, 2009
Messages
2,827
We have been in our home over 15+ years (original owners) and we have a sump pump in the basement. We have never had water due to sump pump failing. But we have had water in the basement due to #1 - our air conditioner condensate pump failed and the basement had water (no damage just needed to mop up and dry the mess). #2- our water heater failed also and leaked (twice due to manufacturer defect), but we replaced with a new heater and no problems. We finally put water alarms down on the floor in those areas to alert us to any problems as soon as they happen so clean up will be faster and easier.

Many people don't realize about the air conditioner condensate pump and the line can sometimes get clogged and we usually run blech through it twice a year to keep it clear or you can just replace the line.

There can be many reasons for water in the basement. One thing we finally did was paint the basement walls with special paint that seals the walls. It helps keep the moisture out. Plus we have a dehumidifier in the basement to keep it dry.
 

megumic

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Mar 8, 2009
Messages
1,647
Wow, thanks everyone for the great advice and insight!

The home was built in 1950 and the basement had minor minor water (a thin layer in two spots, about the size of a personal pizza each) and other visible water stains. We think it can easily be remediated, but of course want to "buyer beware" and do our due diligence. We have an expert coming tomorrow to give a quote on what should be done and what it will cost. Hopefully it's minor!
 

packrat

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 12, 2008
Messages
10,615
chemgirl, that's great about your parents house! I mentioned right after that that we had soooo much rain and snow melt from over 5 feet of snow (I believe the worst flood in history for our area) last year, houses that have been here 30+ years and never had a problem, did. It's just a random thing that happens. It just takes a sump pump to quit working or a sewer to back up and then there's trouble. One of my coworkers bought a house by my parents out in the country that was built probably in the 50's/60's and there'd always been carpet in the basement. They remodeled the house and put carpet in the basement-ended up w/water in the basement when there'd never been a problem in all those years, figured it was a one time thing so they tore it all out and put in new carpet..another bout of non stop rain and water in the basement again. Now it's cement..and no problems for a couple years, even w/the insane flooding last year. It's one of those things that's hard to predict!
 

wildcat03

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 11, 2011
Messages
503
My parents had water in their brand new basement. The issue for them was not the water itself, but the fact that my sister has a horrible (and scary) angioedema reaction to mold exposure. She has to be very careful where she lives and even visits. She developed this reaction after living in a really badly mold-contaminated dorm room and it's been quite a challenge ever since. Because of that, all of us are very careful about making sure the basements are dry and do not even have a hint of mold wherever we live (so that she can visit safely).
 

megumic

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Mar 8, 2009
Messages
1,647
FWIW, the hot water heater is 9 years old and the furnace is 13 years old, and they are not on platforms, so that's a good indication to me that the water is slight. Seems to be coming in along the front wall, and thus perhaps is merely a grading of the land issue that might be easily resolved.

The owner has lived there since 1950 or so. Presumably the water issues have either been resolved, or perhaps just need some TLC. I'm headed to town tomorrow to find out if it's a flood zone and will hopefully have some reasonable news from the expert we're having come by!
 

monarch64

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 12, 2005
Messages
17,940
I would never buy a house with a basement that had ANY water issues, period. If you must have a basement, buy a house that is on a piece of property that sits high above all else. You NEVER know when floods will come through your neighborhood. SO was renting for 5 years a house that flooded (just in the yard--there was no basement and he built a retaining wall after the first flood) every spring, and I said "no more." We bought a house well above flood plain designation. I refuse to deal with flooding. I grew up in a house on a hill that NEVER flooded and I am just not used to even the threat of it, so I guess that's where my strong opinion is coming from.
 

charbie

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 16, 2008
Messages
2,512
When walking through our new home (new build) we noticed condensation/water along the front of the basement. The home is a walk out basement home, on a hill, so we were a bit perplexed.
We then discovered the culprit was what was mentioned before about the air conditioning and condensation. The homme was really chilly was we were walking through (it was over 80 degrees outside) and the painters over the weekend had turned the AC down so low there was no way to not have some condensation. Once the air temp was adjusted and we put a dehumidifyer in, there hasn't been another drop anywhere.
 
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