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Thread: Basement plumbing issue

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Basement plumbing issue

    Any of you "hip" to plumbing?

    Here's my problem:

    I am finishing our basement; the house is close to 30 years old and the basement is dry/stable as far as the walls/floor go. But there are two drain holes in the floor that occasionally "spit up" water, usually during very heavy rain/flooding (such as we have had recently). It's not much (small puddle maybe a foot diameter near each hole) but I don't want even that. As far as I know, these under-basement drains are not tied into anything except perhaps some exterior downspouts, which originally dumped into PVC pipes buried vertically in the ground. I suspect these originally carried the rainwater away from the house via underground PVC pipes that eventually dump outside somewhere.

    I have disconnected all of these except two (which I just disconnected yesterday), chiefly because I'm concerned the pipes in the ground are clogged (the gutters/downspouts were not cleaned when we bought the house and have never had screens) and that the rainwater coming in from the downspouts is what's gurgling up through the drains in the basement.

    Since I don't need the drains in the floor in the basement for anything, I am thinking about sealing them tight with RTV/lid of some kind. I don't want to make it permanently sealed (like a concrete plug) in case I ever need to access them for some reason - I just want them sealed "waterproof tight" so they don't upchuck water into the basement.

    Any thoughts/advice?

  2. #2
    I have disconnected all of these except two (which I just disconnected yesterday), chiefly because I'm concerned the pipes in the ground are clogged (the gutters/downspouts were not cleaned when we bought the house and have never had screens) and that the rainwater coming in from the downspouts is what's gurgling up through the drains in the basement.
    Do you know where the drain pipes end at? Before sealing anything off it may be a good idea to find the ends and unclog them so during another heavy rain the water has another place to go (rather than over the side of the gutter).

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dieseleverything View Post
    Do you know where the drain pipes end at? Before sealing anything off it may be a good idea to find the ends and unclog them so during another heavy rain the water has another place to go (rather than over the side of the gutter).
    There is an outlet pipe coming out of the ground waaaaaay out in the front yard (a good 100-150 yards from the house itself).

    The gutters are now completely disconnected from the original in-ground drainage system. When we bought the house, all the gutter downspouts fed into PVC pipes that were buried in the ground; my suspicion is these - the underground pipes - are clogged at least partially because the previous owners never installed any sort of screen in the gutters, so leaves, crap, etc. could just pour into the PVC pipes in the ground. What I did was cut off the downspouts and hook them into flexible rubber drainage tubes (you buy these at Lowes, etc.) and route them away from the house. The gutters/drainspouts now empty above ground, onto the lawn - about eight feet away from the house itself.

    So, as far as I can tell, there is now nothing "feeding" the underground pipes that hook into the drain holes in the basement. I'm hoping this gets rid of the upchucking of water during heavy rains, but I'd still like to get an opinion as to whether it's doing anything I shouldn't to seal off these drains in the basement....

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    Do you have city sewer or a septic system?

    If you have a sewer connection you could install a check valve (plumbers call it a back water) in your main line.

    Otherwise, these pipes must go to some drain field (thats a bunch of rocks with space between them, to temporarily hold the water while it naturally seeps into the earth.

    #1 make sure your home is graded so the earth slopes away from the foundation - at least 1/4" per foot.

    #2 make sure your rain gutters are clean, and the gutter leaders are taking the rain 3' - 4' away from the foundation of your home.

    You could level them off (in the basement floor) with some concrete. Just remember to wear a clown outfit when mixing cement in a basement

  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dBrong View Post
    Do you have city sewer or a septic system?

    If you have a sewer connection you could install a check valve (plumbers call it a back water) in your main line.

    Otherwise, these pipes must go to some drain field (thats a bunch of rocks with space between them, to temporarily hold the water while it naturally seeps into the earth.

    #1 make sure your home is graded so the earth slopes away from the foundation - at least 1/4" per foot.

    #2 make sure your rain gutters are clean, and the gutter leaders are taking the rain 3' - 4' away from the foundation of your home.

    You could level them off (in the basement floor) with some concrete. Just remember to wear a clown outfit when mixing cement in a basement
    We're on a well - so no issues with city water.

    I think you're right re the drainage field, etc. What I suspect has happened is that the pipes leading from the drain holes in the basement floor (which I suspect were also tied into/fed by the downspouts outside) have either partially collapsed or are partially clogged, which means even moderate flow (from the downspouts, say) is causing water to back up, which then spits up into the basement from those rain holes. But my thinking is that if the pipes under the floor are no longer carrying water from the downspouts (disconnected now) then there should be no issue with sealing the drain holes in the basement. My main goal here is to keep the basement dry...

  6. #6
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    A good test for moisture is to lay down a rubber mat, or tape a 2 X 3 foot piece of plastic to the basement floor. After a couple of days pick up the mat. If the concrete is moist (darker) then you have water beneath the concrete. This is how pros check if they can apply expoy to a cement slab - and have it stick.

    IMO these drains were there to take away water from the basement floor - not to drain the basement because of flooding.

  7. #7
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dBrong View Post
    A good test for moisture is to lay down a rubber mat, or tape a 2 X 3 foot piece of plastic to the basement floor. After a couple of days pick up the mat. If the concrete is moist (darker) then you have water beneath the concrete. This is how pros check if they can apply expoy to a cement slab - and have it stick.

    IMO these drains were there to take away water from the basement floor - not to drain the basement because of flooding.
    Update:

    We had some heavy rains over the past couple of days, after I disconnected the last two exterior downspouts from the in-ground drains. No sign of any water in the basement now.

    I think I fixed it!

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