There are better ways to wake up than to walk downstairs and find standing water in your basement. The initial steps are common. Step #1: issue a heavy stream of vulgarities. Step #2, beg forgiveness for your verbal transgressions. Step #3: ask, “What do I do to fix this?” In this episode, Adam talks about Step #3.
Narrator: The topic of today’s podcast: I have water in my basement. What do I do? So Adam, there are better ways to wake up than to walk downstairs and find standing water in your basement. I’m sure the initial steps are common. Step #1: Issue a heavy stream of vulgarities; Step #2: Beg forgiveness for your verbal transgressions; and then Step #3: Ask, what do I do to fix this? Let’s talk about Step #3, Adam. You must hear this question all the time.
Adam: All the time. Sometimes I step in somewhere in Step 1 or 2, depends on when I get the phone call. It’s a very common situation, whether it’s an inquiry through an email or if it’s a phone call, it’s, I have water in my basement, help, can you come help me fix the problem? And generally it’s, yes, but we need to figure out where it’s coming from. So the first conversation that we have with the homeowner is, alright, let’s take a break, let’s take a breath, let’s understand what you see, how you see it coming in, where is it coming in? So this kind of will serve as the general template that we use to help homeowners diagnose some of their issue, because it is a panic situation for a lot of people. Whether it’s a finished basement, unfinished basement, storage area, doesn’t matter, it’s never a good thing when you walk downstairs and you have water in the house. So the first thing which is the most obvious one is to make sure it’s not coming from inside the house, alright, make sure that the plumbing systems are fine, that there’s no broken pipes anywhere, there’s no sewer pipes that are cracking. We always say, look up, make sure that you don’t see any, if you have unfinished ceiling, that you’re not having any water standing up top, which would lead to water being coming in the house. Most times that’s not the case because usually it follows some sort of rain event or weather event that we get these inquiries, but that’s always the first thing to knock out of the way, make sure it’s not a plumbing issue or something inside the house that’s causing that. That wouldn’t be something I’d be able to help you with, that would be something more along the lines somewhere to help diagnose, solve and make sure it’s all set. So that’s step #1, rule that out. Once you get past that, it’s really going to depend on what you have as a basement. So, knowing what kind of foundation you have helps direct the conversation and direct to solutions that are available. The first question we always ask is what kind of foundation you have, is it a concrete, is it stone, or is it block. And sometimes it’s hard to tell because older homes will sometimes have a coating over the walls so it’s hard to know exactly what it is. So the next follow-up question would be, how old is your house about. That kind of gives us some indication as to what kind of materials may have been used during that time period. A lot of times customers will call up and say, I have a concrete foundation. And something doesn’t seem right with the way they’re describing it so I’ll ask them, when was your house built? In 1874, they’ll answer. Well, in 1874, they weren’t pouring concrete foundation, so you’re going to have a fieldstone foundation with mortar, and it may have been parched over with a masonry material to make it look like concrete at one point in time. So, understanding what the foundation is constructed of and also knowing the age of your home will help, kind of, direct some of the construction tendencies of that time period. Once we’ve gone across to that area, now it’s about do you have an unfinished basement or a finished basement? If you have an unfinished space, it’s really helpful for us to be able to diagnose where the water’s coming in from. If it’s finished, it’s a little bit more challenging. Obviously if you have rugs or flooring down, or you’re seeing water coming on the walls, it’s really hard to figure out, is it coming through the walls, is it coming up from the floor. So really, it’s kind of backtracking your way to where the point of entry is. So in general, obviously, with the exception of water coming from inside the house, we want to figure out, is it coming from the ground up, or is it coming from the sky down. If it’s coming from the ground up, well that’s more of a water table issue and that will present certain ways, you’ll see it coming around the perimeter of the house, you will see it coming in, maybe pipe penetrations that go through the floor like a sewer pipe, you’ll see it on cracks on the floor. So after the clean up and after you start getting that water out of there, understanding how you see water in the basement will help direct us so that way we can find solutions with you. Standing 6 inches deep in water, it’s hard to pinpoint that entrypoint of water coming in. The other area is obviously sky down, where we know that rain water is going to eventually find its way into the water table. But if it’s actively raining and you’re having water coming actively in during the rain, that’s usually telling us that it may be coming in through wall cracks, maybe coming in through tie rods, it may be coming in between blocks if you have a block foundation, or if you have an older stone foundation it might be coming through void spaces in the mortar joint and between there as well. So the deep breath that we all need to take is let’s kind of backtrack your way through the foundation and isolate the points of entry. If it’s coming everywhere at all times, you’re probably battling the water table and solutions to that more involve mitigation strategies on both the outside and inside. Sump pumps direct the water away, drain systems outside, potentially drain systems inside. Those are more of areas like that to help you keep the water from coming up and in. But if it’s coming through walls, there’s no sump pump system that’s going to solve that issue. There you’re really looking at repairing the walls, tightening up the walls. So, it’s a tough conversation to have with a lot of people because we don’t know usually right over the phone exactly how it’s coming in. So you are the detective in the field as we kind of guide you through this process. And in the end of the day, if you have a finished basement, oftentimes it involves opening up the walls a little bit to see where the water’s coming in from. Which is a good idea especially if you have standing water in there, you don’t want mold and mildew to grow. So the process is not scientific by any means, but it’s definitely something that you have to kind of methodically go through to understand how the water’s coming in. Because at the end of the day, our goal is to help you solve the water issue that you have and we need to know as much information as possible to help you through that. If I’m standing at a 6 inch puddle in your basement, I’m not going to be able to do that right over the phone or even in person, we have to kind of backtrack our way to find how it came in, so that we’ll be able to know what playbook we’re using to solve the issue.
Narrator: And you have to do all that during the middle of a very charged emotional event. I imagine you’re also to play councilor at times too, right?
Adam: Well, I’m an Engineer by trade but I think I may have picked up some social classes along the way on the phone here. So it’s definitely calming and taking that deep breath and finding a level headed approach even though it would seem like a crisis situation.
Narrator: Very good, Adam. Thanks for explaining what to do when you find water in your basement.
Narrator: If you have a basement water problem and think you need a professional, or, if you’d like more information on foundation crack repair and basement waterproofing topics, please visit A1FoundationCrackRepair.com or call Adam at (866) 929-3171. Or you can email Adam at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.