Why you shouldn't excavate to fix your basement water problem

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 by Ryan Weyers


One way to fix a wet basement is to dig up the earth outside around your foundation and waterproof the walls and install a new footing drain. This is almost never a good option. Why?

First of all you’ll be replacing the same systems that failed you the first time and even if you did how long would it last this time?

The big problem is the excavation itself however. You have to dig down to the bottom of the footing, about 8 feet deep. Picture standing in a trench, looking up at where the grass used to be. An 8-foot deep trench has to be at least 8 feet wide at the top (12 fee if you ask OSHA). And where will all that dirt that comes our of that hole go? It’s piled up in the rest of you yard. You can expect about 25 feet of your yard all the way around your home to be destroyed.

Everything in this area has to be removed and replaced, including porches, driveways, sidewalks, landscaping, air conditioning units, decks, steps and so on. Then after the work is done, the dirt that was excavated – which is now fluffed up and loose on your lawn, is put back in the trench. It will take years for this dirt to settle, and as it does, new dirt has to be added against the foundation to keep the slope away from the house. Then you can put your driveway, sidewalks, decks, porches and landscaping back. This is reason enough not to consider doing the job from the outside.

If you need more reason to dismiss the disaster idea, how about these:

1. Where will the drain go to? If you don’t’ have a lot of slope on your property to take the pipe out to daylight, then you need to bring the pipe inside the foundation to a sump pump anyway.

2. Exterior excavation does not address water vapor coming through your basement walls and floor.

3. Nor does this method address humidity – and won’t ensure that mold won’t grow either.

4. What if something goes wrong and there is still a little seepage? What will you do then? Dig it all up again? Outside systems are not serviceable.

5. It costs a lot of money – like up to $20,000 to go all the way around your home!

Hopefully we can now close the book on this option.

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