Apprehensive about replacing my basement's interior drain tile

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Brian Kehlmeier

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I get leaking in several cracks in my basement's poured foundation walls. The sump pump has water draining to it and it works well. I received a quote for 126 feet of interior drain tile to be replaced is $12K. My current drain tile is white 3" PVC. Before replacing it, is it common for companies to use a snake camera and inspect the drain tile? I am apprehensive that this solution will truly treat the root cause.

At first, I agreed with the company's assessment that it is the false water table around the that rises, then migrates through the wall cracks. We have clay soil here in Ohio. The downspouts drain great out to the street, and the water weeping in the cracks is super clear like you could drink it. The interior drain tile under the slab collects the rising water table, drains to the sump pit, and pumps the water out to the street as well. In working theory at least.

Facts:
  • Purchased the home 10 years ago.
  • Downspouts into the ground were not connected as the drain pipes to the street sunk, about a foot. This resulted in erosion tunnels along the foundation walls; now there are cavities where the water collects quickly, then comes in through cracks. Weeps/constant trickle after rain.
  • I repaired all of these downspout issues that first year in the home, but my theory is that water builds up in these exterior cavities and then forces its way through the cracks.
  • I was going to DIY inject expanding closed cell foam, but had a company come out for an opinion.
  • Their theory is that the false water table is rising and it builds up around the walls and comes in. Moisture readings on the walls show the walls are much more moist at the bottoms, which makes sense. Also, the water is clear. The claim that water from downspouts and the ground would be brownish. They want to collect this rising water and use the sump pump to get rid of it.
  • Their theory makes sense to a point, but why don't I see water coming up at the cove joint between the wall and the slab?
  • I am concerned that we replace the interior drain tile under the slab and I still get water coming in through the wall cracks. The only way I see their solution working is if they drill holes beneath the slab, through the wall, to allow the buildup of water on the outside of the wall through, to be collected by the interior drain tile.
It has not rained in several days and the pump pit has reached an equilibrium. As a test, I took my garden hose and set it to spray against the siding at one trouble spot. Within 5 minutes, I had a constant trickle of water through that crack, starting at the bottom and going up to about shoulder height. There is no way the water table around my home is rising that fast. I am starting to think the drain tile is fine; rather the voids on the exterior wall just need filled with the expanding foam solution. I have no problem paying for a solution but what if the solution does not fix the root cause? I doubt the company is going to say "oh, now I will fix the real issue for free." The company is not going to warranty a "dry basement"; they are only going to warranty their work.

I am pretty sure I have no waterproofing of any type on the exterior of the walls. I dug down over 2 feet to fix the downspouts and saw nothing. The cost of fixing it from the outside is not something I am willing to do. At this point, I will probably try the inject foam from the inside or just live with the trickles and don't put carpet down there. The alternative would be to have someone diamond grind the floor, stain, and seal it. I don't plan on drywalling the interior sides of the walls anyways; the temps stay comfortable down there and the look of the molded brick is actually quite nice.

I am looking for any advice or thoughts. I understand what this company is wanting to do, but I doubt that the water on the outside of the walls is even going to make it to a new interior drain tile, and now I am wondering "how do we know that the existing drain tile is not working?"
 

Tuttles Revenge

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The best way to keep water out is to prevent it from the exterior. New homes in our area are built with a perimeter drain on the outside and extensive water proofing on the concrete. Downspouts water being diverted is a big plus.

Most waterproofing companies I've worked with will trench the entire perimeter and lay a drain tile with a waterproof memberane that overlaps up the wall a ways. Then that water that does weep through the wall, will also be collected by the drain tile.

I'm not an expert in these systems by any means, I installed one once, but realized that without mitigating the water at the exterior I had Zero means of warrantying that work..

In a house that I rented once I directed the downspouts away from the house I stopped getting water inside.
 

WorthFlorida

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The best way as what Tuttle stated, is the entire foundation wall must be waterproofed on the outside and improve on the drainage tile before backfilling.

Clay soil as it dries out shrinks away from the concrete wall. It's why just running a hose along the wall immediately shows up in the basement. When I had my home in Illinois with heavy clay soil, when rain was blown against an outside wall I could hear my sump pump run quite a lot and almost immediately.

One way that may help is to pour concrete walkway directly up against the foundation wall to minimize water running down the foundation wall, maybe three feet wide. If you have rain gutters run the downspouts well away from the house so it can drain downhill if possible.
 

Dj2

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Only excavating the dirt around the basement exterior and waterproofing the walls will fix it.
Trouble is: small leaks don't disappear, and become major leaks.
 

Tuttles Revenge

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Spray foam also is just a wick for water. Unless there is a specific product I've never heard of.

What I have seen is a water stopping concrete/mortar mix with bentonite that I've seen smooshed into leaky foundation walls.. I think it expands when cured so that it creates increased pressure against the surface its applied into. Of course that is just putting your finger in one hole of the dike while the water fills up and finds the next hole behind.
 
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