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Water Seepage in Basement - How We Fixed it on the Cheap

By Edited Jul 22, 2016 2 0

Our 1970s semi-detached house had started to show signs of water seepage in the basement and although it was not a lot just yet it was enough to cause problems with the flooring we had down there, so we decided to attack the problem by starting with the easiest solutions first.

Although the temptation to simply get basement professionals in and deal with it was there, our wallets simply said “no” so after much research we decided to attack this problem ourselves.

We started by inspecting the eaves troughs and the downspouts, and although there was a downspout near the area in question the water was being diverted elsewhere and we felt that was not the problem.

This was at the front of the house and there were a few scraggly looking shrubs up against the wall, and upon closer look we realized that the garden soil had built up over the years and was quite high against the concrete foundation wall.

So, we made note of that, and then as we were standing in the driveway we took a really good look at the front yard and we realized that there was a slight slope

water seepage in basement

 from the center of the lawn where a tree was, to the house.  The center of the yard was slightly higher than the ground against the house.

I was not convinced that those issues could really be the cause; I was looking for something more obvious like a big crack somewhere (which is what a basement professional suggested it could be).  

We made the decision to change that garden up against the house.  We moved any plants I wanted to keep and pulled out the scraggly looking shrubs and realized just how high the dirt, leaves and mulch had built up behind them.

We then removed a few inches of top soil and put it around the back gardens, and then with a spade we dug down at the wall about 6 inches before we came to the original waterproofing black line that would have been painted on when the house was built.  This waterproofing stops moisture from getting in. 

If you gardens tend to be wet and are right up against the concrete foundation wall or blocks then basement seepage can get in.

Basement seepage solutions

We then wire brushed the wall to clean off dirt and painted on more black goop designed for foundation walls meeting up with the original line and then let it dry.  We then put some of the soil back and then about 3 feet from the wall (beginning edge of the flower bed out from wall) we dug down approximately 8 inches to create a channel along the front of the garden and over to the driveway we graduated the channel deeper until it could run down the driveway.

We then filled this channel with larger gravel stones up to the lawn level.  We then decided that we would no longer plant any shrub here, so we decided to create a nice stone area, by putting garden carpet over the leveled out top soil (stops weeds) and then laying larger stones in this area to blend with our drainage channel we built.

We were able to pick up a yard of these cute terra cotta stones that really brightened and gave the area a clean look in our pickup truck.  But you can also buy decorative stones in bags or have a load delivered depending on the size of the area you need to fill.  The garden carpet is cheap to purchase from home improvement centers and keeps the weeds down.

So, we attacked this in two ways.  We added additional black waterproofing to the wall and then we dug a channel and filled it with stones to divert any water running downhill towards the house.  In a heavy rain the water will now run out to the driveway which slopes towards the road.   This takes the pressure off the wall.

So far so good and we have had some big rain storms.  So if you are looking for some basement seepage solutions, start with the easier things first.  Look at the slope of the yard is it going away from the house?  Look at how high the gardens are at the wall and lower them if necessary and find that black line.  Check the eaves troughs to make sure they are flowing right.  This may mean heading out there with umbrella in hand to watch how they react in heavy rain.

If they need cleaning out, sometimes the water will overflow them and run down the house wall which does not help things either.  Make sure the downspouts are running away from the house, this may mean adding an extension so the water does not run back.

Water seepage in basement
Suncast SB24 Rain Gutter Downspout Splash Block, Light Taupe
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stop the rain water from draining right near your foundation wall.

Over the years things can change, such as the level of gardens.  In our case the tree on the front lawn was slightly raising the grounds so that it created a bit of a hump in the center of the property so we did not want to remove the tree, and after a heavy rain we would see a slight puddling of the water near the edge of this garden.

In my case the above solution worked, and it cost me a load of stones and bribed meals for my family who all helped to tackle this problem.  I ended up with a nicer looking ornamental garden out front where I will sit plant pots instead of adding large shrubs again.

If you have large shrubs at the wall be sure clean around them with your fall and spring cleanup because it is absolutely amazing just how much soil, leaves and mulch will accumulate between them and the wall of your house over time and it breaks down and holds moisture.

Water Seepage Basement – Start easy and cheaper first, you would hate to get it all dug out and shred your basement to find out it was simply the shrubs and dirt was too high.   Home repairs are expensive enough.

You could even consider adding a rain barrel to catch excess storm water and use it for the rest of your garden instead of diverting it to the drains.

Seepage in Basement
Algreen 81002 Agua 50-Gallon Rain Water Collection and Storage System
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have the water drain off the roof and into a rain barrel to use later rather than into the ground near your basement wall.
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