I had only seen water in my basement two times before -- once when the washing machine hose came undone and once when there was terrential downpour. Even then, there was just a 2 x 2 section of carpet that was wet. I cleaned it up easily with a steam cleaner vacuum.
Spring of 2010 was a very, very wet year in Michigan. It rained, well, a ton. It seemed that every time the ground might have a chance to dry up, another rain would blow through and saturate the water table again.
It was a rainy day in May when all hell broke loose. I was getting ready for bed and looking outside -- there was one of those crazy terrential downpours that I mentioned before. It's the kind of rain that comes in so fast that the streets can't keep up. I fell asleep in the middle of the storm.
About two hours later, my 8 year old comes in and wakes me up. "Daddy", she says, "I hear a scary noise, like a monster." It was 1 am, two hours after I'd fallen asleep. I was not happy to be awake. I took her back to her bed and told her I'd check it out. About half way down from the second floor, I heard it -- "BOOOM". That wasn't thunder. I searched around the perimeter of the house but didn't see anything. It was still raining. I heard it again. "PFFFFFFF". It sounded like it was in the basement, so I crept down. I heard it again, this time VERY loud. It was deep, explosive, bass. As soon as my foot hit the bottom of the basement, it all became very clear:
My foot was soaked. I looked toward the north end of the basement, and there was my subwoofer, sitting in water. It was shorting out, making explosive bass pops so loud that it woke up my daughter two floors above.
This was the room, full of water, even if you can't see it very well from this picture:
I moved everything over to the opposite side of the basement that was electronic or valuable and tried to go back to bed, but I didn't sleep much.
The next day I got my steam vacuum out and tried sucking up the water, but I'd fill up the vacuum with just 10 seconds of vacuuming. Dump. Start again. Dump. Worse yet, it seemed like the more I sucked, the more water seemed to come up from the ground
. It didn't make any sense.
We had the insurance company come out, and they surveyed the damage and recommended a cleaning company. He told me the carpet would not be salvageable, so I ripped it out.
The company came out and put up huge dehumidifiers that tripped my breakers non stop. Two days later, another storm came through and flooded the basement AGAIN. This time, I was able to watch it. Water wasn't coming from the walls, it was coming from the microscopic, tiny cracks in the basement floor.
Another call to insurance, another deductible (separate floods are separate claims!), and more dehumidifiers. At this point, it was pretty silly, because water had saturated all the carpet tack strips and the bottom of the drywall.
I started doing some research, trying to figure out what was going on. I talked to a few of my neighbors and found out that some of them had similiar problems. It all originated from the builder 30 years prior, who installed black corregated tiling around the exterior of the house and connected it to the storm sewers. The problem was, they built the sewers at a level differently than they do now, so when it would rain INCREDIBLY hard, the water would actually travel back up from the street towards the houses and saturate the exterior of the houses. In my case, the water table was so saturated that hydrostatic pressure was forcing water up through the concrete floors. Any tiny crack it could find was good enough for that water.
There was only one option -- find the pipe that connected my house to the street, dig it up, and cap it off.
I went to the township first, hoping to find plans of my house or the street sewer system. No luck. Then I went to the county, hoping for the same. No luck. One of the neighbors refered me to the plumbing company who did their house, and I gave them a call. The owner came out with top secret plans of our entire subdivision which he guarded like a treasure. He marched off where he thought the pipe was: 10 feet below my driveway. Crap. Guess I'm not doing this job by myself.
So I hired them to come out. It's a good thing I did. The pipe was 10 feet down, straight below buried electrical wires. Upon investigation, we found that one of the previous owners of the house must've had flooding problems, because there was post-construction interior tiling installed that ran into the basement drain. That drain connected to the sanitary sewer, something highly illegal to do these days. The company put in a sump pump for me as well, since I would need a way to discharge the water since I no longer had the exterior tiling to do so.
The rest of the summer I spent looking at my house from the perspective of, "how can I get rid of water?" I installed gutters, and in my last project, worked on the grading of the house. On the north side of the house -- where the flooding occured -- the ground actually swept back toward
the house. I brought in 4 yards of dirt and relandscaped the entire area.
Adding dirt and grading properly:
The finished product: