Damp, soggy and sloshy

You know that stale air musty house smell when you come back from vacation? After our week at the cottage last month, that’s exactly what Matt and I came home to. And then we walked down into the basement.

There we sniffed a distinct eau de damp.

Turns out that at the very start of our holiday, while we were lakeside, there was some water flowing at home.

A torrential downpour washed half the gravel down the driveway, overran the sump pump in the cold cellar and seeped through the foundation in the laundry room.

Believe it or not, we escaped with very little damage. The worst was some damp carpet in the long room and beside the laundry room. Some of the baseboards have swelled a little bit as a result, but overall it’s not too bad.

The cold cellar is about 6 inches below the rest of the basement, and the floor is concrete, so even though it appears that area was the sloshiest, the water didn’t seep into the main basement. Thank goodness.

Running the dehumidifier for a few days dried out the carpet.

The biggest bummer is that we had patched the laundry room foundation before we left on vacation… or we thought we had.

At one point, the laundry room window was a door into the basement. When we found occasional puddles on the laundry room floor, we figured that was the most likely source.

Matt dug out the foundation, I found a membrane at Home Depot, we stuck it onto the foundation and back-filled the hole. (Forgive the bad iPod photos. We temporarily misplaced the real camera).

Patching a leaky foundation

Well, either we missed the location of the leak, our patch didn’t work, or the freak volume of rain would have overwhelmed the foundation anyways. Hence the eau de damp.

Back at the farm after our vacation as we were drying out the basement, we watched on TV as more torrential rains flooded a town nearby. When the storms rolled into our area, the rain spewed over the edge of the gutters and puddled right next to our apparently porous foundation. Uh-oh.

A break in the storm found Matt and me outside in our raincoats and boots. Matt fetched the extension ladder, I held it secure, and he climbed up on the roof to empty the eaves troughs.

Cleaning out the eaves trough

Our pine trees shed like crazy, and their needles clog the downspouts. When the second wave of the rain hit, the gutters flowed like they should.

Clogged downspout

We’ve had more rain since then, and Matt has been super vigilant about making sure the water runs away from the house and that the basement stays dry.

So far so good.

The problem of the clogged eaves troughs and downspouts has been solved. Now if only we could solve the where-the-heck-is-the-water-getting-in? problem.

Who else has come home to a not so pleasant surprise after vacation? Have you ever dealt with leaky foundation issues? How often do you clean your gutters? I swear I did them a few months ago. Anyone else ever done some mid-storm water diversion?

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12 thoughts on “Damp, soggy and sloshy

  1. Oh gosh, that’s never what you want to deal with after a vacation. I’m glad it wasn’t any worse.

    My parents live in Wisconsin and they have issues with all the pine needles shedding in their yard as well and making a mess of things.

  2. What a mess! That is no fun to come home from after vacation. We live in a fixer-upper from the late 1880’s. I have been working on the drainage all summer. (http://blakehillhouse.com). I see that you are already working on your downspouts which is key! I am wondering about the grading outside of the house right outside where your leak in the basement is. If the water from your house is diverted far enough away from the house foundation (at least 5 feet), it might be a grading issue. The ground might not have enough slope. Also, I recommend looking into something called a French Drain.

  3. Ugh, what a mess to come home to! We had a huge shade tree right behind our house that we cut down because it was a sweet gum ball tree. Eventhough they are beautiful when the leaves change, the balls that they drop are AWFUL! They are terrible to walk on, terrible to mow over and then they clog up our guttering. I miss the shade, but I DO NOT miss the mess!

  4. It sounds like you just dodged a bullet! We have coped with so much water damage over the years that I’m absolutely terrified of it. We had a 100 year storm the night before we moved in our small town of Beaumont, Alberta. Our home flooded with both overland flooding and sewer backup. The new owner was to take possession at noon the next day. Our new home that we were moving into also flooded. The insurance company of the person who owned our new home wasn’t going to pay because he had moved out already. (They did, after a fight.) Our insurance company gave us $10,000 only – they had sent out a memo that we hadn’t noticed saying they were cancelling most of the flood insurance in our area because it was on a flood plain. That barely fixed the basement and we lost a ton of money. The whole thing was a nightmare!! 300 homes in our town flooded that night.

    As for repairs during a storm, we were in the Black Friday tornado in Edmonton. After the huge one (which was on the edge of town, not where we were) there was a second wave of storms. We were staying at my parents’ place because they were away on vacation, and it was incredibly hot and they had a basement, which we didn’t. Lucky thing we were there, because a very small tornado bounced off the house! It was the freakiest thing ever. We had the babies (my daughter was only six weeks old and my son was 1 1/2) pushed under a bed in the basement, and I saw the HUGE willow tree in the backyard bent over till it was lying along the ground. It’s amazing how flexible those trees are, because it stood up again after! Anyways, this small funnel ripped off about a quarter of the roof, Shingles and wood rained down everywhere, slamming down outside the basement window of the room we were in. So scary!! Gary, my (ex) husband was up on the roof between more storm waves, hammering down tarps over the damage. It was crazy: in the living room there was an actual sheet of water coming in along the central beam! The insurance company later said that what Gary did made a huge difference to the amount of damage to the house.

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