Central Ohio Wet Basement Quiz…

by Maureen McCabe on January 10, 2008

I have a spam email in one of my mailboxes from a water-proofing company.   It has a basement quiz…  I am going to dissect that spam and put it to use… on my blog for a series about wet basements. 

I am not going to give a link to the company who spammed me.   That may or may not be kosher in blogging but I sure don’t want them spamming my blog.  I do not know this company so I am not using their information to give them any authority or business.  They may be a great water proofing company or they may be all wet.  Sorry I could not resist.

Here’s Questions Number One on the basement quiz…. from a contractor who does water proofing:

Question #1:True or False: A leaking basement usually leaks primarily due to poor grading/negative slope around the house ?

Answer:  False, absolutely not.  Proper grade only eliminates one of the three basic ways water affects a basement. While surface runoff can affect a foundation it is usually only a significant factor when the entire property is affected by SIGNIFICANT GRADE CHANGES. By this we means that the land itself is significantly  affected by neighboring topography (i.e. your neighbors house is on much higher ground than your own).  On basically flat property Surface water is actually the least of the  3 ways  water affects the basement. Both capillary water and” 

The response to question number one just ends there. Question number two is right after it.  Not sure what more was part of the answer.  So maybe this is not a good basement question to start what I plan to do as a series on ColumbusBestBlog.com but it’s supposed to rain today isn’t it? 

It does seem obvious though that depending on topography a house with perfect grading could have a wet basement.

My big experience with wet basements in Central Ohio is obviously showing homes, home inspections (as an innocent bystander)  and negotiations regarding defects, as necessary. 

I certainly am not an expert on wet basements but I have seen a few.  

I had a home inspector guest blogger here for a real short time.  Two or three posts only…. come back David Tamny…   I love home inspection blogging for some reason.  I would love to hear a home inspectors response to that question and answer…

I went to a great home inspection presentation by one of my favorite local home inspectors a few years back.   I attended the presentation (for home owners  or buyers not for the real estate industry) at the Library in Clintonville.  Obviously a lot of people in the audience were from Clintonville.  The topic of the presentation was the 10 biggest problems found in home inspections in Central Ohio.   It was fun when Art of Criterium -Lizkay Engineers got to basements.   The crowd perked up and asked lots of questions! 

Anyone want to talk about wet basements and water proofing with me? 

Home Inspection on ColumbusBestBlog.com

ColumbusBestBlog Welcomes David Tamny of Professional Property Inspection

Ohio Home Inspection Licensing – HB 257

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1 dave January 10, 2008 at 02:07 pm

Looking forward to future posts Maureen. I heard a friend of mine tell me the new thing in wet basements (for existing builds) is not the inside perimeter/French drain/sump thing anymore, but a slightly raised floor to let water in and out. That’d be tough sell for me, but I wonder if it’s true?

My last house was on flat, flat terrain (I called it a flood plane) and no amount of grading would make a difference. But the walls sure bowed. I put a plumbline on it and could actually measure a movement in only 6 months. I got the wall braced immediately. Now, we still have a bit of water, but we’re pretty high up on a ravine, so no bowing anymore. Yay!

2 Maureen McCabe January 10, 2008 at 06:23 pm

Gosh I thought I commented. Where did it go.

It’s raining… it’s pouring…

I have seen basements with a little channel of water running along the edge inside, I assumed the floor was raised.

I was in a crawl space high on a hill over a ravine that had water running in a crawl space during the inspection.

Braced with I-Beams or the newer strips?

thanks for the comment.

3 Dave January 10, 2008 at 11:45 pm

I used I-beams because of a type of “brand loyalty.” I figured the inspector would tell the buyer it was routine. I didn’t know how the general population felt about the strips.

4 Maureen McCabe January 11, 2008 at 06:47 am

I like beams… I trust beams… I was with someone recently who said the strips are becoming very common… I still see mostly beams.

5 Michael Thomas January 11, 2008 at 10:30 am

I’ve put up a page about an interesting wet basement here:


in my home inspection experience here in Chicago quite dramatic water problems can have quite simple – and inexpensive to correct – causes:

6 Maureen McCabe January 11, 2008 at 10:43 am

Chicago was built on a swamp…. wasn’t it? My grandparents NW side house had a basement that sat 1/2 way above the grade… old neighborhood, big front porches about 6 steps up to the front door. Trying to remember relative’s basements in Oak Park, Elmhurst..

We have heavy clay soil in Ohio.. I remember that from my first home inspection in Columbus… Oh I guess it was my second… wonder why we did not discuss basements on house number one. Or why I don’t remember.

I usually am pretty finicky about links in comments but I visited your site. I will go back and read about simple and inexpensive fixes. Thanks

7 David Tamny January 13, 2008 at 09:06 pm

I’ll agree somewhat with the contractor’s answer to the question. Surface water control is always the first line of defense in the analysis of a basement water infiltration issue. I have seen homes with excellent grading and wet basements as well as homes with poor grading and dry basements. A basement is essentially a hole in the ground waiting to fill up with water. Ohio has predominately clay soil which does not drain. The water table also has something to do with the possibility of basement water infiltration. This is why the Ohio Residential code requires footing drains. Without a functioning footing drain you will likely get water in the basement if the soil is saturated with water. At certain times of the year when the soil is saturated you can dig down 4 ft and hit wet soil. No amount of surface water control will stop this water from entering the basement. Generally if there is a stain at an underground downspout conductor location you can assume that grading and drainage are the primary factor. If you have signs of water coming in at the floor/slab junction it is usually an issue with a footer drain. Each case has to be looked at individually. This is truly a high liability area for home inspectors. Especially when inspections are done during dry periods. There is truly no substitute for experience in evaluating basements. I can’t give away all my secrets, however.

8 Maureen McCabe January 13, 2008 at 10:24 pm

thanks for the comment David! Central Ohio basements are scary.

9 Jacob Lee December 29, 2008 at 05:42 pm

Hi Dave,

I’m personally not a huge fan of spam mail tactics myself..so i stay away from them. But I do talk about basements a lot here in MA/CT/RI with my blog and for the company that I work for.

All of CT is ether river vally or ledge, RI is all sand and stone, and MA is has plenty of everything. Makes getting to the route cause very interesting. Pretty much the problem with any basement does start on the outside, but it also has much to do with the way that basements are designed. There are 3 major seperations, wall/footing, wall/floor and footing/floor gaps where water can find it’s way in. We daily come accross basement walls and floors with cracks or no cracks that produce water as well.

Like David Tammy said each basement is subject to being looked at closely. You can’t just generalize. But if you ever need someone to talk basements with please feel free to give me a holler :-)



10 Maureen McCabe December 30, 2008 at 08:14 am

Basements make good conversation in Columbus too. I will go look for your blog. Thanks for the comment.

11 Wet Basement Columbus July 30, 2012 at 07:09 am

Please read this so you could have the chance to be alert and knowledgeable enough about wet basement solutions, this is a perfect info which may help on you, that’s pretty sure.

12 Maureen McCabe July 30, 2012 at 10:58 am

your site is pathetic, no one would get any value from it.

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