How to Diagnose and Remedy Basement Flooding Problems



It?s Safe to Say Basement Flooding is a Big Deal in Plumbing

If you?re a victim of flooded basement, we?ve got the help you need. If your basement is flooding you?re probably asking yourself a bunch of questions. How do I fix basement flooding? How do I repair my basement so it doesn?t flood? Why do I have wet basement walls? What can I do to water proof my basement walls? What shoes do I wear when I?m trying to fix the water damage? Why does my basement flood, I?m on a lot that?s higher than my neighbor?s? These questions and many more will be answered in this article.

It?s surprising how little people what causes basement flooding. What?s even more surprising is the fact that no one seems to explain it correctly or in a way that is easily understood by the homeowner.

Let?s first start by saying that your foundation is akin to a big concrete boat. When the ground is fairly dry your foundation sits comfortably in its resting place. However, when the ground is saturated, your foundation is actually being forced out of the ground. If it didn?t weigh many tons it would pop right out of the ground. The weight keeps it from coming out of the ground, preventing further damage.

Hopefully, that gives you an idea of how water affects a foundation hydraulically, in fact, it is aptly named hydraulic pressure or hydrostatic pressure. When water is present in a basement or crawlspace both the home and business owner immediately panic. What are the causes of this? What?s the best way to fix it? This is completely understandable especially when most people keep valuables, records or collectables in their basement and if you?ve spent your hard-earned dollars on finishing your basement, forget it, you call a plumber for help.

An excavation is made at a predetermined location where your sewer exits the house. You try to take landscaping and tree location into consideration when digging.

An excavation is made at a predetermined location where your sewer exits the house. You try to take landscaping and tree location into consideration when digging.
After exposing the sewer line and expanding the excavation to accommodate a concrete manhole the aforementioned manhole is notched or cored for the sewer piping and the manhole is lowered into place. Here?s where the magic happens. The sewer is repiped with a sanitary tee turned to 10 or 2 o?clock. (stay with me I?ll explain in a second) A backwater valve is installed on the outlet side of the tee, a fitting reduced to 2? is installed on the outlet side of the back water valve and that is connected in-line with a short piece of pipe where it leaves the manhole.
ÿWe are just going to concentrate on the plumbing in the manhole for now. An ejector pump is installed at the bottom of the pit and it is piped with a check valve over to the reduced fitting on the outlet side of the backwater valve.
Lets move outside the manhole. You install a cleanout outside the manhole and connect it to the small piece of pipe exiting the manhole.
Now you backfill with new trench backfill that conforms with all local and state codes.

If you?ve had flooding issues in the past the alarm bell automatically goes off in your head when it starts to rain. You?re thinking ?what?s gonna get damaged?? ?how am I gonna clean this up?? ?how can I keep the mold out of the basement??. The pictures above might scare you, but trust me this is pretty common. Cleaning isn?t the only thing though, you are probably concerned about what actually broke or caused the flood. In this case, you usually stop and consider your options. Who can help? What should I do next? You?re probably concerned about the cost of the damage too since homeowners insurance doesn?t cover all flood damages.

Any flooded basement insurance claim for water getting into the basement from outside is best taken care of by a Public Adjuster, since a lot of the times an insurance company will deny the claim. As a side note, if your basement is flooding because water is entering from outside, you should reconsider your landscaping to prevent basement flooding. The land around the basement area can act as a protector of floods. Cities like Toronto will subsidize your basement flood-proofing. So there are options depending on the location you?re in. Now let?s jump into the basics of basement flooding.

(Here?s a quick flood fun fact: The Great Flood of 1937 drastically affected the Cincinnati and Louisville areas. It left behind 14.88 inches of water in Fernbank, which is west of Cincinnati. And it left an even bigger flood in Louisville with 19.17 inches. Now that would be a disaster flood to clean up. This meme represents how I would feel about it.)

If you know some basics regarding what is going on outside the foundation walls, under your foundation floor and you know some basics about your sewer you can intelligently explain to a plumbing professional what seems to be your problem or you could very well attempt to fix the problem yourself.

First Step to Take

So now that we know that water pressure is the root of almost all flooding and moisture problems let?s look and the different scenarios that occur to cause flooding. If a homeowner called and said ?my basement is flooding? the first question should be is ?is the water coming from the foundation or a floor drain?? The water is generally coming from one of those locations; a flood isn?t going to occur if you leave a window open. If it is coming from a basementÿfloor drain the next question to be asked is ?do you have an ejector pit and pump in your basement?? If the homeowner says no it tells you several things. Number one they have a gravity sewer.ÿ

Basement Flooding Basics

Actually all sewers are gravity however this particular one is unique in the fact that all waste water, even water collected in the basement, flows under the basement floor and out to the city sewer. If water is coming up from their floor drain and they don?t have an obstruction in their sewer then the city main is backing up.

When sewers were first installed in metropolitan areas around the country they were combined sewers in that they took away both rainwater and wastewater. This comes as a surprise to some because storm and wastewater are always separated in buildings but yes in quite a few municipalities they combine together in the sewer main. Quite a few cities in the US, like Chicago or Atlanta, still use combined sewers however they are slowly being phased out. Having a combined sewer lends itself to some unique problems especially to a homeowner that is connected to it.

Basement Floods During Heavy Rain

So we bring ourselves back to flooding occurring in a home in the basement through a floor drain with no sewer obstruction. Think of a sewer in the middle of the street taking sewage from each home or business connected to it and then add to it torrential rains in the spring and fall. These combined sewers were never designed to evacuate that volume of water, in fact, typically during rainy seasons a combined sewer runs at 100% capacity. The technical term for this phenomenon is ?surcharged?ÿ

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