Grading lawn

Published on June 16th, 2013 | by Henri

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Water seeping into corner of basement

Q.    We have a finished basement that has water seeping in at one corner. We looked into having an interior drainage system put in, but it is cost prohibitive.  Someone recommended we install an exterior sump pump to draw the water away from the house. Have you ever heard of doing this and is it effective? Are there any other alternatives?  And most importantly, how do we find a contractor that has experience with this kind of work?  We would really appreciate your advice.

A.    The first thing anyone with basement leakage must do is to check (or have checked by a knowledgeable person) the grade around the house. That includes any appurtenances such as patios, walks, driveways, etc. All flat or negative (sloping toward the house) grade must be corrected to shed water away from the foundation. This may require quite a bit of work if appurtenances need to be altered.

Not knowing your site, I can only say that whoever suggested an exterior sump pump has a great imagination. I have never heard of that before. Condo projects do have deep drainage systems if there is a lot of water to dispose of, but they generally lead to a ditch, a storm drain, or some other outlet.

Recommending a contractor to do corrective work is harder to do. It needs to be someone who understands these principles. It can be an excavator (I have worked with some who are savvy), a general contractor or a landscape contractor.

You may need to have a civil engineer or highly qualified home inspector survey your property and come up with recommendations and a plan of action. It is a good idea to have this person supervise the work as I have been involved in situations where I had written a very clear report with sketches and photos only to find out later that my instructions and design were not followed and needed corrections.

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