Water inside and erosion outside
June 4, 2018 6:00 AM   Subscribe

I live in a townhouse with a basement. Outside, our yard slopes up -- you have to walk up three steps to the door, and the yard is sloped up to roughly the level of the door. We've lived here 10 years, and suddenly we have two alarming problems. Inside, we have some water incursion in the unfinished basement -- basically, some wet cement when it rains. Outside, the sloped yard is starting to erode. The water incursion is on the same wall the yard slopes up to. Are these problems related?

I was planning to call a landscaper to fix up the yard, and a contractor to fix up the basement. But if these problems are related, I'm not sure what to do. Also, I'm really worried about the water -- is this something I might need/want to make a homeowner insurance claim on? How worried should I be about my neighbor who shares that wall, but does not have a basement?
posted by OrangeDisk to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You're probably right, but could the basement moisture be condensation from humid air on a cool surface? We got a dehumidifier for the basement and it fixed a moist wall.
posted by Ian Scuffling at 6:35 AM on June 4, 2018

Start with the contractor, to find out if the basement seepage is a problem, and if so, how much of a problem.

Unless the erosion looks like a serious danger, I wouldn't bother calling a landscaper until you know how much digging, if any, is going to be needed to resolve the basement problem. (From your description it sounds like a relatively mild problem that probably won't require excavation, but no point hurrying to tidy up the yard if there's a chance you'll have to dig it up again.)
posted by ook at 6:47 AM on June 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

Have you checked your gutters? Are they clogged? Is the water from them directed away from the house?
posted by gregr at 7:53 AM on June 4, 2018 [5 favorites]

Basement waterproofing professionals are a thing – see if there's a company in your town. I agree that, most likely, something has changed (like clogged gutters) that may be over saturating an area that was previously fine. You might need to install a french drain if there is no obvious cause.
posted by amanda at 8:02 AM on June 4, 2018

Yes, and French Drains.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:57 AM on June 4, 2018

If this is a recent problem, then it suggests something has changed and should be able to be fixed relatively easily. As mentioned above, make sure that your gutters are clear. Do the gutter downspouts drain onto the ground or into a drainage pipe? If onto the ground. You might consider extending them farther away from the house. If into a pipe, that pipe might need clearing.

It is common to have a buried perforated drainage pipe system around the exterior base of a foundation to carry away water. This pipe must drain somewhere. It is possible that this drain has become blocked. You might have to call a basement waterproofing company to help you find the drain and clean it out. But be wary of a company that tries to upsell you to an expensive new waterproofing system when all you really need is to service your existing one.
posted by JackFlash at 9:56 AM on June 4, 2018

When this happened to us, it was the gutter. It was sudden and alarming, but we got the gutter cleaned and fixed (there was an end cap missing or something) and it didn't happen again, so looking at the roof and falling water patterns might be helpful.

It's also helpful to go out in the rain and look at how it falls around your house.

Water behavior and erosion is sort of fascinating, in the abstract.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 7:02 AM on June 7, 2018

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