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Water Leaks In The Basement

It looks like we've got a couple of water leaks in the basement. One we knew about -- somewhere around one of the windows -- the other I just found this evening.

Here's the set-up. One of the windows in our basement is prone to leaking when there's anything more than a casual rain. We knew it when we bought the house -- no surprises there. We had a bit of a flood last year which was caused by the GFI on our window well pumps having been tripped, so the pumps wouldn't clear the water that pooled up in the window wells. I reset the GFI that one time and check on it often since. I also set up some fans in the corner of the basement to keep air circulating. That way, when small amounts of water leak in, it evaporates quickly. This has been a pretty good solution for a while now.

Recently, yarbiedoll added some furniture to that corner of the basement -- a storage cabinet to hold laundry detergents and the like. No big deal -- it didn't block the window and it slipped into a corner quite nicely. We put it up on cinder blocks to keep it from having direct contact with the floor since we know that this area gets a little water every now and then. We thought we were in fine shape.

Last week, we had a big ol' bunch of rain when Alberto came through the Carolinas. The basement leaked more than the fans could handle. We got it mopped up with towels and the mop and set the fans on high. That got most of the water taken care of, but a puddle of water kept forming from under the cabinet -- more precisely, from around the cinder blocks that the cabinet sat on. I had just assumed that it was water left over from the window leak and that the fans were trapping it in a space where it couldn't evaporate very well. Today, when I went down to do the rest of the laundry, I noticed that the puddle was bigger than it was yesterday. OK, this isn't drying out, I'm going to investigate it more. I moved the cabinet off the blocks and out of the way. That's when I found that water was trickling in through a couple of holes in the corner where the cabinet was, at about 2 inches below where the plaster quit -- near ground level. I moved the concrete blocks out of the way and mopped up all the water I could, then I aimed the fans on it full force.

I went outside to try and determine why this particular area was causing a water leak. I easily found the culprit -- the air conditioning condensation drain pipe. Coming out of the attic vent is a 3/4" PVC pipe that runs down the side of the house next to the chimney. Instead of being diverted away from the house, it is simply allowed to drip next to the house. This, of course, is saturating the ground right next to the foundation and chimney, which happens to be exactly where the water is leaking into the basement.

As a temporary fix, I repositioned the drain pipe to be a little bit away from the house by propping it against some other pipes that are in the vicinity. It's an unstable solution, so I headed to Lowe's for a more stable solution, even if it's just going to continue to be temporary. I bought a length of PVC and a connector. I'm going to extend the pipe, using the connector to divert it away from the house. I may bury the pipe, or I may end up getting a better water dispersal solution. Anyway, it should keep the air conditioner from creating a continually damp spot right up against the house.

After running the fans in the basement for a little over an hour, it seems to have dried everything up. I can't even detect any water coming in from outside, even though I know exactly where to look now. I think that we never noticed this before because we had a good air circulation strategy in place before putting the cabinet in the corner.

Well, it got too dark to comfortably fix the pipe tonight. I'll do it when I get home from work tomorrow.

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