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post #1 of 34 Old 12-21-2006, 12:14 PM - Thread Starter
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This isn't totally on topic but I wanted to get your guys' opinions. This morning we had some water in our basement in 3 spots, all along exterior walls. It was a pretty small amount, which you can see in the attached pics. I'll post some more pics in another post, since for some reason I can only do 3.

After I peeled back my plastic/vapor wrap and pulled off the insulation, I found a crack in the foundation wall in each spot.

I'm pretty sure this is not acceptable, but wanted to hear from others. This house is only 6 months old. Construction was completed in June when we moved in. It's been pretty moderate temperature wise here, and we've gotten about an inch of rain in the last day or so, but not a lot. However, since it's been so mild (40's and 30's) the ground hasn't frozen nor has it warmed up enough to really dry things out, so the ground outside the cracks is pretty soggy from the rain the last 24 hours.

The house still has a 1 year "warranty", I should be calling my contractor about this right? My parents had all kinds of water issues in thier basement so I'm very nervous about any moisture in my basement. Luckily I haven't done any construction yet.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 34 Old 12-21-2006, 12:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Here are 3 more pics with the wrap and insulation out of the way. You can kind of see the crack in each of the 3 locations
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post #3 of 34 Old 12-21-2006, 12:32 PM
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I think somebody would actually have to visit the site to make a determination, but I would offer my opinion:

I don't see a crack in the photos. However, it is not uncommon for a crack to develop in any foundation. Does it happen all the time.. no. But I have seen hairline cracks that aren't a problem.

My gut instinct tells me that you have one of these problems (probably all):

1. Poor material used for backfill. In this area, pure sand is usually used for backfill. This drains the water down to the footing, so the water is not pushing against the wall.

2. No drain tile at the footing. eg a perforated pipe around the footing to carry water that drains down away from the foundation

3. Missing roof gutters or improperly routed leaders. If you have a leader coming down with an elbow (or missing an elbow) and dumping water against the foundation, you can expect this problem.

4. Improperly graded yard. If the soil is pitched towards your house, the water will surely follow.

5. Improper damp-proofing. Porraging the entire exterior of the footing with mortar or using a bituminous coating eg tar. However, this is /damp/ proofing. Not water proofing. Dampproofing is not designed to solve this problem, but it would help.. a little

Your profile doesn't say where you are located, which would be helpful. Also, knowing your soil type would help.

Warranty aside, if your municipality has adopted the URC, I would investigate whether the foundation and drainage meets the code.

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post #4 of 34 Old 12-21-2006, 12:44 PM
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One other possibility - in my prior house the sump pump broke and I saw similar leaks in my basement. If you have a sump pump, this might be something else to check.
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post #5 of 34 Old 12-21-2006, 12:45 PM
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Sorry, got off on a tangent and didn't really answer your question.

Yes, call your contractor. This is not supposed to happen.

However, ask him what he thinks the problem is. Ask him how he intends to fix it. If he gives you any of the above as a suspected culprit, he is probably going to do the right thing for you.

Ask him how he thinks he should fix it.

If he gives you a line like "this is normal", I would recommend contacting the building department and asking for a record of inspection. Hopefully your juridiction has adopted a decent building code; most mandate an inspection for the footings and for the foundation. I'm not saying you should put the building inspector on your hit list, but you could ask him to come out and say "the builder told me this is normal". Believe me, the building inspector will have more pull with a contractor than you. It will also alert the building department to this type of problem, so they will be on the lookout on other jobs.

To summarize, 1. determine the problem, is it the builder's fault, or did you regrade the yard and screw up the drainage? 2. Call the builder and ask him to come out and look. Most builders will work with you. Even if it's not their fault, they sure will be happy to tell you whose fault it is! , 3. If builders fault, let him correct it, but get a game plan first-- know what he is going to do before he does it, 4. if builder is not cooperative, ask building dept for help.

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post #6 of 34 Old 12-21-2006, 01:00 PM
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This problem is only going to get worse unless it is addressed correctly.

Can you show us a picture of the side of the house from the outside and give us some indication of where it is coming in.

This is one reason some people recommend not finishing a basement until a full year with normal rainfall has passed.

This is something you are going to have to be tough about. If the builder doesn't attempt to fix this problem get the free help (county inspectors) or the paid help (your lawyer) on the case. Mr Tim is on point about your problem.

You should not finish the basement until you have proven that this problem is fixed either by waiting for more rain or simulating rain (sprinklers).


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post #7 of 34 Old 12-21-2006, 01:08 PM
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I re-read your post and a thought came to mind.

You've been in the house for 6 months and this just happened. You must of had some other rain in that time. So what is different now? All the leaves are off the trees and in your gutters. Maybe they are clogged.

I would still be nervous because this problem may indicate that anytime water collects near the foundation of your house it's going to come in. I would feel better if your waterproofing and drain, sump pump system took care of it.


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post #8 of 34 Old 12-21-2006, 01:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.Tim View Post

I think somebody would actually have to visit the site to make a determination, but I would offer my opinion:

I don't see a crack in the photos. However, it is not uncommon for a crack to develop in any foundation. Does it happen all the time.. no. But I have seen hairline cracks that aren't a problem.

My gut instinct tells me that you have one of these problems (probably all):

1. Poor material used for backfill. In this area, pure sand is usually used for backfill. This drains the water down to the footing, so the water is not pushing against the wall.

2. No drain tile at the footing. eg a perforated pipe around the footing to carry water that drains down away from the foundation

3. Missing roof gutters or improperly routed leaders. If you have a leader coming down with an elbow (or missing an elbow) and dumping water against the foundation, you can expect this problem.

4. Improperly graded yard. If the soil is pitched towards your house, the water will surely follow.

5. Improper damp-proofing. Porraging the entire exterior of the footing with mortar or using a bituminous coating eg tar. However, this is /damp/ proofing. Not water proofing. Dampproofing is not designed to solve this problem, but it would help.. a little

Your profile doesn't say where you are located, which would be helpful. Also, knowing your soil type would help.

Warranty aside, if your municipality has adopted the URC, I would investigate whether the foundation and drainage meets the code.

Tim

Thanks for the replies so far. Some points, in no particular order.

1. I'm living in Eastern Iowa, small town just north of Iowa City.

2. Not sure of the backfill material, I think it is just fill dirt that was excavated when they dug the hole for the foundation. I don't remember them bringing in any dirt from another source to fill in.

3. I know they put drain tile around the foundation, at least that was part of the agreement and local codes. It all feeds to a sump pump that does work, at least last time I checked it. I'll check it again tonight.

4. Everytime we've had rain since we've lived there (6 months now), I've checked for moisture and this is the first time. I believe we've had 2 pretty heavy rains so far.

5. I've always suspected the grading of the yard wasn't up to snuff. I've noticed in the summer when I mowed what seemed like low spots right next to the house. The day they graded the lot and laid the sod was the afternoon before the long 4th of July weekend. I wasn't there to watch the whole process, but i think they were in a hurry to maybe start the holiday.

6. They did spray some black stuff on the exterior foundation below grade. I always assumed that that was damp/water proofing. We didn't pay for anything extra, so I'm sure it's just the damp proofing.

7. All gutters are on and functioning. They did route the gutters below ground and out away from the house where the end in "bubble top" caps. They terminate about 4 to 6 feet from the house.

8. Here are all the pics I took. All are on the interior, it was to dark to get pics outside.
Basement pics

Thanks for all the input. My neighbor is a construction consultant, working mainly in concrete, so I think I'll go talk with him tonight.
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post #9 of 34 Old 12-21-2006, 01:23 PM
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We just went thru something similiar, much older home, basement was finished when we moved in, there was no water in the basement at first but a few months later we found a nice puddle one morning, turns out the water pipe from the street to the house had sprung a leak right before it hit the house and over time, the water built up enough to not be able for the sump to handle and made its way inside, after tearing down the wall to the block and replacing the line with brass alls well again.......not sure if you have anything remotely similiar but seeing your pics brought back memories..

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post #10 of 34 Old 12-21-2006, 02:14 PM
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You've probably heard the expression, "It's not a matter of if a basement will leak, but, when."
Just be thankful that you caught it now.

A simple fix would be to pack hydro-cement over the leaky area. It's not the best solution, but, it should be done anyway - this goes for all cracks (large or small).

The second issue is to make sure that the drain tile is draining and was installed properly. This is usually a problem caused by the landscaper's. Drain tile is a system which rests on the outside footing and wraps around your house. If the end is covered or blocked it will cause water to build up around the foundation and... water will find its way.
Call your contractor, a reputable contractor will fix this problem yesterday.

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post #11 of 34 Old 12-21-2006, 05:38 PM
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You want my opinion? Poor workmanship is part of the problem. Looking at your photos of the basement wall this is DEFINITELY something that you need to address with you builder. Some settling has occurred and has caused a shift in the brick used in your basement wall. It almost looks like it could have been or is a control joint during construction. This needs to be addressed ASAP as it will NOT go away and will only get worse. Poor drainage is probably a contributing factor as well. It is an interesting block they used. Don't think I have ever seen block that small used in newer construction on the interior of a wall. It looks like your walls were cast in place concrete so why is that block there? Not to scare you but from and engineering standpoint it is a problem.

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post #12 of 34 Old 12-21-2006, 05:49 PM
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You might want to check with your local building department but treated lumber is generally required on the bottom plates of those walls in order to meet code since it is contacting cement. The pictures you posted look like regular lumber.
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post #13 of 34 Old 12-21-2006, 05:56 PM
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Absolutley contact the builder. Your home should still be under warranty. This wall is the same type used in my area. As you know, they use concrete molds to give the apperance of individual bricks, but the wall is actually poured, reinforced with rebar. The area leaking seems to be a joint between 2 sections of the pour. It must be corrected, or it WILL get worse.

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post #14 of 34 Old 12-21-2006, 07:44 PM
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Contact builder, that it leaks halfway up the wall means water is not draining away from the exterior-poor exterior drainage. I would excavate exterior area, clean out crack, install hydrolic cement, after a day, apply foundation coating. Check exterior drain if present or possible. Do the same inside, minus the coating. Just don't paste over the crack. Chiseling out the crack to provide depth to the cement is necessary. It's all in the instructions. But as stated previously, alot depends on the exterior landscape. It's smelly, but I've had great luck with a Conproco product : Shield M or Shield W. Use this after the crack is sealed and with full ventilation.

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post #15 of 34 Old 12-22-2006, 06:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Well, after looking at it some more, it looks like all 3 cracks are where the concrete forms were joined together. I've not been able to get outside during the daylight to get some pictures or really examine to see if you can see the cracks from the exterior, although it looks like on at least one of the cracks, I can kind of see a crack on the exterior. I'm hoping over the weekend it's nice and sunny so that I can really examine things.

I've talked with my builder and he's going to come out on Tuesday with the concrete guy who poured the foundation to take a look at it. I talked with him this morning and he is already laying the groundwork for the "well, there is some normal settling in any new construction home, and all basement walls crack a little bit" routine.

Tuesday will be interesting to say the least. I'm usually not a confrontational person, but man, I want this taken care of correctly. We paid to much for this house to have issues with cracked foundations and water in the basement, especially after only 6 months.
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post #16 of 34 Old 12-22-2006, 08:31 AM
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If he gives you the line of this is normal, explain to him that fixing should then not be a problem for him, because this is a regular occurence. A regular problem = a regular fix. I'm sure you didnt pay for a wet basement, you paid for a basement that does not leak.
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post #17 of 34 Old 12-22-2006, 08:40 AM
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Realistically, some settling is normal. I built my own house and I know how things were prepped, and I still got one or two cracks in my basement slab.

However, settling and improper drainage are two distinct problems. Your foundation should be able to sustain a few minor (hairline) cracks and still not leak.

Allow the builder to voice his opinion on the matter. I would say that the "some settling is normal" is a knee-jerk reaction. Hopefully when he comes on site he will be more reasonable. Just hope they mason and the contractor don't start trading blows over whose fault it is. I suggest you maintain a middle of the line stance.

To you, it doesn't matter whose fault it is. You just need to know how it is going to be fixed. Regardless of what subcontractor is responsible for the problem, the contractor is responsible to you.

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post #18 of 34 Old 12-22-2006, 09:06 AM
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If things dry up by Tuesday, be sure to have prints of the pictures made to hand to your builder.


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post #19 of 34 Old 12-22-2006, 06:11 PM
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I had water leak too in my basement after 2 weeks when we moved in. We found out that the sump pump broke. They replaced it and leaking stopped. However, when I saw your fourth picture, it couldn't be just sump pump. I'm glad that you contacted your builder and that you're still under warranty(6 months only).

I have a question folks too about cracks. Please see attached pictures. I have cracks on all post and most of them are thinner than 1/16". I have one crack though that's more a little more than 1/16" and it's also near post. During my walkthrough, they told me that they were glad because they saw the cracks were they expected and those where the ones near the poles. Are they saying the truth?
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post #20 of 34 Old 12-22-2006, 06:33 PM
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That's a saw cut, done intentionally to relieve any stress on your slab. These are usually done post to post and side to side every 10 to 20 ft.

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post #21 of 34 Old 12-22-2006, 06:37 PM
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The poster should insist that the exterior be excavated and patched as in my previous post #14. Some settling is understandable but an attempt to rectify the problem by the contractor is a legal obligation. No one should accept water damage cause it's "expected".

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post #22 of 34 Old 12-22-2006, 08:04 PM
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One tip that I want to share with you.

There was one guy from the builder who really didn't like me. During the walkthrough, he was explaining to me why they covered the whole basement concrete wall with the color white insulation(see attached picture). Then I told him that I will remove it one of this days so that I can see if there are cracks on the wall. He quickly responded with "You are going to void your warranty"! LOL.

I contacted the village(building department) to confirm about it. I found out that it was a total lie. So if they tell you that, don't believe them.

Like what Davidleeds said, the exterior around the house should be excavated so they can fix the issue. You don't want molds forming and particles being spread around the house by the hvac which can affect health.


EDIT:

I was looking at your pictures again specifically the wall where I see the water. If assuming it happened to me and they tell me that they are going to patch it inside the house, I will not accept that kind of fix. Remember, water can find its way in.
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post #23 of 34 Old 12-23-2006, 08:30 AM
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One way to repair the crack or cracks from inside is to have a contractor inject a polyurethane solution into the crack. I'm in the process of renovating my basement and had 5 cracks ranging from hairline to 1/8" wide repaired.
Try googling basement systems for more info. If you choose to repair it or have someone do it for you make sure it's a flexable application that's injected, if the foundation shifts it doesn't end up cracking elsewhere.
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post #24 of 34 Old 12-23-2006, 09:27 AM
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Whistlersix,
I do rehabs/ gut rehabs/ flips in real estate all the time, if I know the water damage IS NOT major, as I can see from yours it doesn't look major at all. One of the things we do is we use hydraulic cement, and chisel away a triangle size hole about 3/4 x 3/4 and fill it in while its leaking. It works miracles, and unless any plumbing is broken which I doubt in your house, I would just use that, only if you feel comfortable doing it.


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I have used this to fill in cracks that are as big as a baseball, and believe it or not city inspectors love it because its safe.

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post #25 of 34 Old 12-23-2006, 09:28 AM
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Contractor's are never very vigilant about proper drainage. In my opinion, you should run your gutter drainage farther away from your house even if it means removing your bubble caps. You could could also install surface drainage yourself in the low spots and take the rain run off to the lowest spot away from your foundation.

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post #26 of 34 Old 12-23-2006, 07:12 PM
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Had the same problem in my new home. The had to dig out the foundation and patch the wall to fix it. They also installed a sump pump and since then 0 problems.
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post #27 of 34 Old 12-24-2006, 05:31 AM - Thread Starter
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I guess my biggest worry is that I don't want this happening again next year. After July 07 my warranty runs out. I mean, right now I have 3 cracks. I want them to fix them right, but I don't want them to just fix the cracks. I want them to get to the root of the problem and fix that, so that in a year, I'm not posting again, asking for help.

I'm willing to do whatever it takes this time around to get them to fix it right. I'm just worried that my contractor and his sub contractors won't be willing to do the same.
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post #28 of 34 Old 12-24-2006, 05:44 AM - Thread Starter
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I've attached 3 images of the house while in construction. Notice the water that is collected there at the base of the house. This is runoff from the roof in early April of this year and it's collected there because there are no gutters yet. This water never really dried up until quite a while after the gutters were up.

Is this water collection an indication of drainage issues? My dad is very adamant that the underground tile at the base of the foundation should have helped this water seep into the ground and be pulled into the sump well. He says based on what we saw in April, this is an indicator that somehting might be wrong with the tile on the footings. Back then I thought he was full of it. I thought that we just got enough rain coming straight down from the roof that it didn't have anywhere to go, but now I wonder.

In the first picture of the window, that's where one crack is, and in the second picture, under to the left of that window is a second crack.

Do you think my dad is right? That that water should have drained out of there faster than it did, and this might be an indicator of why the cracks might have happened? Or is that pretty normal during the construction phase to get that standing water right by the house?
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post #29 of 34 Old 12-24-2006, 06:46 AM
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Dad may be right. Depends on soil type. Usually at the foundation a sand or gravel should have been the back fill material and then near the surface a more semi porous soil (clay type) or topsoil is placed before finished grade. IMO the soil in the frount needs to be lowered/sloped more so those puddles dont remain. I would place a 3 ft wide sheet of plastic/landscape fabric down along the foundation to divert any water away from the foundation, and the same out back. Looks like there's building going on all around you. Ask around for simular problems. Also, look in you sump well. Is it dry when water seeps in the crack(s)? In short, fill the cracks and slope the soil.

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post #30 of 34 Old 12-24-2006, 03:53 PM
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IMO the puddles of standing water beneath the windows and along the house as indicated in your pictures must be taken care of asap! This water will drain straight down your foundation and take the path of least resistence which may be a settlement crack in your foundation. It would be worth it's weight in gold to have a contractor or You to put some corrugated drain pipe down exactly where the water is sitting and angle it away from your foundation to a more common drain. Do a web search on "french drain" this is what I did at my house and it works wonderful.

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