Rural Home Technology


Water Problem Photos

Try your luck at figuring out what is happening in each of these photos. Check below the photos to see what actually was going on and what was done to remedy the situation.

Note that all sections referred to in “See Section…” refer to Part I of the Complete Document.


#1 Could have been a leaky water line, a high water table, or even surface water running down the outside foundation wall and finding its way in through a poorly sealed water line penetration. It turned out to be a high water table in a very porous soil, meaning that when water came in, it did so with a vengeance.

See: Sec. 1.3 High Water Table

No. 2

#2The result of condensation in a house built in 1976 with a poorly ventilated crawl space. The house is on a side hill where hillside water and roof water met in the rear of the house and found its way into the dirt floored crawl space. Because it was trapped in a stagnant space all it could do was evaporate and condense on all surfaces and cause rot. Floors required complete replacement and foundation needed to be properly ventilated.

See: Sec. 4 Condensation

No. 3

#3The dewatering system for a retail store built too deep into the water table in an extremely porous soil. After the problem was discovered, the owner of the store kept adding to the dewatering system until it could finally handle the volume of water that comes in. Although the solution is generally effective, it ultimately requires several pumps and lots of piping to get water out of the basement and away from the building, as well as careful monitoring to be sure pumps don't run out of gas. Although it does provide a little extra “mud season” fun here in the North Country, it's a situation to avoid if at all possible. Note that I had nothing to do with this project, but include it here because it is so extreme.

See: Sec. 1.3 High Water Table

No 4

#4What you see is all that’s left of many of the concrete blocks that are, or were, the basement wall of this house. The previous owner had said that there is "moisture in the springtime.” Moisture turned out to be a small river, as the house tucks into a hillside on top of ledge with no place for ground and roof water to go but under and through the walls. The acidity of the water apparently attacked the concrete in the blocks, turning many of the blocks back into sand. The repair required replacement of several concrete blocks, coating the entire wall with "structural skin," and installation of a drain that was cut down into the ledge along with surface drainage away from the house.

See: Sec. 1.2 Surface water entrances, 1.3 High Water Table and 2.5 Ledge!

No 5

#5This was a very short term, one time problem that caused lots of damage to carpet requiring complete replacement. An ice dam formed on the ground across the front of the garage attached to this home because the home was unoccupied for the winter. The dam caused early spring rainwater to back up through the garage, into the cellar entrance, and down the stairs into this basement in substantial volume. Fortunately it was caught before it had a chance to soak up into the studwalls and sheetrock causing even greater damage. Simply providing proper surface drainage for rainwater away from the house should keep this from ever happening again.

No. 6

#6Rain water leaking in the basement window of a brand new building. Surface grade ran back toward the building and was probably aggravated by a bit of settling next to the foundation. Regrading the ground away from the building took care of the problem.

See: See 3.1 Dealing with surface water leakage


#7This could have been the result of a high water table, but the volume of the water shown, and yes, that is all water flowing over the 2 x 4 on the floor, gives away the fact that this was a water line break. It could have been avoided if the original plumber had not made a water line splice under the bathroom floor where it was almost impossible for me to reach and required shutting down almost 100 homes for an hour or so on a November Saturday night while I fixed it! Not all water line breaks are quite as noticeable.

See: Sec: 1.1 or read Wrong Culprit

No. 8

#8Typical manifestation of a high water table. Same basement at shown in #6 which required both upgrading the sump pump station and regrading outside. Water was coming in around the perimeter of the slab, through the windows, and through the places where the form ties go through the wall.

See: 3.1


#9Shows both surface water leaking through the cracks in a granite basement wall and high water table rising around the edge of the floor. The majority of the problem was resolved by discovering that there was already a "french drain" installed probably when the house was built around 1900. The outlet line had become clogged with silt and roots so I ran a new drain to "daylight" that is shown in photo, #10. By restoring the drain, the water table was lowered enough to also help draw away the water that was running down outside and, in places, through the wall.



see #9 above