Need advice: basement leak

I found the website after googling about basement waterproofing solutions. We are located in Vermont and I really hope any of you can offer some advice. My husband and I are desperately trying to figuring out what we should do to fix our leaking basement. Our home inspector did not report anything about it nor did the previous homeowners.

Our problem: Our home’s first floor is partially underground, about 4 feet. We have a poured concrete basement. The sill plate (which is 4 feet underground) is leaking (about 80 gallons of water on a rainy day) in 2 spots. One leak is around an old cut off pipe in the wall, and the other is the crack between the basement and the first floor. It’s been leaking so often that the wood joist that runs along that wall has completely eroded away.

Now, I understand it’s impossible to give an expert opinion without being here to see the problem, but we would really appreciate any advice. Unfortunately for us, there are only 2 local waterproofing companies to choose from where we live. They both have A ratings on Angie’s List. We even went to a local home show and asked all the contractors who they would recommend for a basement waterproofing company (sadly no one could recommend anyone). We’ve seen the horror stories and especially after reading this board, do not want to be the homeowners duped out of thousands of dollars because we didnt do enough research.

The one company we feel comfortable with does both exterior and interior systems. He wants to do both: excavate, fix any exterior cracks and tar, plus add a WaterGuard system around the entire interior basement perimeter, install 2 sump pumps, and add CleanSpace drainage matting. He believes the water is coming from both directions: sinking down through the ground and thus through our sill plate, plus coming up from the bottom because of a high water table.

We fear that this whole system is a bit overkill. Would any of you be able to offer any advice, recommendations, other sources for information, etc? We would greatly appreciate any help.

Here is a diagram with the proposed fixes:

To clarify, we have a 2 level basement and the leaks are on the upper level left wall (marked ‘A’), the sill plate leak is right at the intersection of the wall next to the stairs and crawl space, the pipe leak is about 3 feet away on the same wall. ‘TS’ means triple safe sump pump.


Overkill indeed.

Both problems/leaks are on the SAME wall, same area, about 3’ apart…correct?

One, you say, is where a pipe comes through the poured wall, right?

The OTHER you wrote, “is a crack between the basement and the first floor” and my Q is, do you mean a crack in the poured-wall???
Or a crack in the basement floor?

Last Q, there is or is NOT, room OUTSIDE to HAND DIG this area?
Would need about 2’ in width. If there is a concrete slab(s) it can be saw-cut.

Before ANY work is done, before ANY homeowner signs anything one could run a WATER TEST with a hose to help show you/others WHERE the water is actually entering, and just so you know, i do it for free when called to give an estimate. Umm, seems THEY did not do this huh.

Imo, I do not trust any rating on Angie-baby’s list, nor do I trust the BBB etc, sorry just my opinion. On THIS SUBJECT, just because some interior system companies may have an A rating on whatever website doesn’t mean they are honest, trusting, doesn’t mean they competently FIND/locate/identify homeowners problems, doesn’t mean they won’t ‘overkill on their estimates’ aka, bid unnecessary extra footage etc. If you have read the ‘AquaGuard Corp’ thread, among many others, quite a few of those interior system companies had/have A RATINGS on Angie’s or the BBB etc, means nothing to Uncle Bubba and many are getting lied to etc, A++ rating or not.

These kinds of diagrams imo, are, for the most part, basically useless and can be more confusing to some homeowners, (not your fault, just saying)
Appears to my experienced, honest-balding melon that somebody wants to help you guys with your bank account. Let me know kid, here to try and help. If you wish you can call me, Mark Anderson 810-346-2955 and OBVIOUSLY i have no interest in making ONE DOLLAR from you/others, just to help when possible.

Don’t have the time to check all the Co’s near you but here is one with comments (scroll
down) … now sure, some of THESE sites/complaints may be bogus, may be from competitors but i do know that ‘some’ of these are LEGIT complaints as i have called and spoke with some of them

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your advice. To answer your questions:

-Yes, the leaks are on the same wall about 3 feet apart. Here is a video of the leaks:

I think that the video will help you see when I mention the “crack.” There is also a lot of water coming down the walls right along the sill plate in the crawl space area, but it’s hard to tell if those are separate leaks or coming from that large leak between the wall and concrete.

-Yes, you can hand dig outside for the majority of the area. There is a small concrete slab (in front of our doorstep) that will need to be cut. They did not do a water test–there has been 3 feet of snow sitting outside on the ground for months now, and it just recently has started melting, hence the leaks.

We’ve read all those ripoffreport, pissedconsumer, sites. That company you listed is out of business here and we are well aware of them (the company we are thinking of going with has fixed a lot of their mistakes).

I cant update my last post since it’s still in moderation, but clarification:

My husband says the dripping water down the crawlspace walls are all their own separate leaks through the sill plate. We are thinking of just doing the exterior fixes and adding the french drain and sump pump in the upper level, not doing the membrane stuff on the walls, and adding a sump pump in the lower level (there has been water leaking there as well, though not as often–it recently came up through our radon gas emission pipe that’s located down there), and not doing a waterguard system down there.

Make sure whoever you use knows what the heck they’re doing because if you/other homeowners hire an INTERIOR system company that claims they do exterior waterproofing, things could get dicey.

In part what i mean is, those companies who ONLY or MOSTLY do interior systems, most often do not know HOW TO seal the exterior of a wall(s), they don’t use the best products, they’ll often damproof the wall instead of waterproof it…often they won’t look-for/correctly identify and then seal ALL EXTERIOR openings.

It’s best to backfill with most/all gravel when this work is done, did they write this up on contract? (all-most gravel backfill)

Do they have on the contract that, they will use/apply hydraulic cement FIRST, in-over any-all cracks etc in the wall(s)? Then a THICK mastic aka roofing cement over ALL of wall, from footing all the way UP to where finished grade will be, and apply visqueen over the mastic. THEN, IF they/you want some sort of other membrane, fine but, if they do all the above correctly you don’t need any sort of OTHER dimpled etc memebrane…unless, lol, they are using/backfilling with equipment which, could pose other possible-problems.

Guess I’m just saying its best for YOU guys to have that work/exterior done by someone who always does it, know what i mean? :wink:

Jaclyn, do either of you know if the EXTERIOR of your crawl-walls were ‘parged’??? Most crawl walls we see here were not even parged on the exterior when built. ](,)](,) That’s just another way our cities building departments supposedly protect us homeowners and how some builders show us how much they care about their product ](,)](,)

Here’s some photos of the exterior of crawlspace wall…
Wall has bowed in, not good.
Some exterior-blocks deteriorated/disintegrated… not good.
Other numerous exterior-direct-openings/gaps where water, pests, soil gases enter, not good.

Do you guys have brick, sided home?
Either way, you’ll want to look for OTHER direct exterior openings from the top of the basements walls…UP.
If brick, there may be small cracks in some bricks or some mortar joints or where any SERVICE LINE enters into the house.
Photos 16–20 openings ABOVE grade

Photos 10, 11, 12 See the pipe in poured wall?
Whoever does the work for you guys needs to apply LOTS of hydraulic cement in/over/around any pipe, then thick mastic etc etc.
This was NOT done correctly by somebody else before homeowners hired our butts

On brick homes, exterior openings like these also MUST be found and then sealed.
These kinds of openings/gaps etc can be found just below and along the grade or higher UP
This is a poured chimney wall.

Another poured wall, some water came into basement on wall, up from floor, 4-6’ just through these small exterior gaps, these are around a door
See end of screwdriver, that’s one opening where GALLONS of water entered but also see the other small gap to the right and a little up. Can get quite a bit of water in basement just from these

Just an fyi… Mark (aka. John Bubber) is the expert many of us here turn to when we need advice on these matters. You are in very good hands with his assistance.
Good luck with your issue,

I second Mr. Jonas’ suggestion… John (Mark) is a stand up guy, and provides a wealth of information!

I was contacted by Jaclyn and I asked her to post here as I new she would be in good hands. Please call & listen to Mr Anderson as he can save you $$$ and aggravation.

Gentz, wow, your comments are much appreciated, thanks.

Just want to try and help as i know, without any doubt, there are a lot of homeowners who’ve been scr_wed over, lied to, misled etc on this-subject.

Jim Carrey, Rhino scene

All that’s written about the exterior job is:

“Excavate along exterior wall indicated and install tamko membrane to seal off cold joint between concrete face and concrete wall. The section of concrete in front of entrance will need to be saw cut and replaced after back fill.”

He did suggest we install an exterior drainage system as well since they will have already dug the hole, but it’s not listed in the quote for the work. He did tell my husband that the concrete on the exterior of the crawlspace was never sealed–does that mean parged?

Looking through your links, the problem we’re having very closely resembles the brick chimney/poured concrete. Our hose is built on a slope, so looking outside we can partially see some of the poured concrete, then there’s about 2-3 ft of brick, then above that the rest of the house has vinyl siding.

Here’s a pic to give you an idea:

The crawlspace that’s leaking is right along the wall where all the bushes are, the leaking pipe is below the front door, and the big leak seen in the video is 3 feet to the left, right at the intersection of the two exterior walls. (That lower window is our first floor kitchen window, the basement is below that)

How can I find a reputable company that does exterior waterproofing? I’ve done a ton of google searches, and all “basement waterproofing” roads lead to just the 2 companies I mentioned.

I new you could help and why I asked her to post here. You know your stuff and Remember you are speaking to a lady. Jaclyn

Indeed sir, thanks Mr. Dave :wink: :mrgreen: (Mister Schmitz might enjoy the rhino scene)

Thanks for helping her out where you can, Mark. It is appreciated that you share your expertise here, by many. :slight_smile:

Parged=cemented over, yes…but for whatever reason I forgot or didn’t notice you have poured CRAWL walls as well, so at best, some-builders might ‘damproof’ the exterior walls, not enough. They don’t parge poured walls, block, brick basement walls yes.

Quick note, part of your problem/leak aka where some water might be entering could be those WINDOWS, just saying.

You could take a hose and spray water against, all around, those lower windows and see/watch if any water enters, anywhere. If so, that’s part of the problem. Spray them like a good wind blown rain would hit them and maybe for about 5 minutes or so.

I would want something in/on the contract on exactly what they will use.
The membrane in my honest opinion is not enough and, its not ‘waterproofing’.

The wall(s) needs to be waterproofed, a rubber or whatever kind of membrane placed/attached to a wall is NOT ‘waterproofing’, water can get BEHIND the membrane so again, the wall needs to be waterproofed first, then a 6 mil visqueen applied/stuck over the roofing cement/mastic, then if you want, the membrane last.

First, before all that, any all cracks etc should be sealed with hydraulic cement…back fill with all clean gravel up to about 2-3" of finished grade, except maybe where your bushes are, if your keeping them, a little more top soil but keep in mind it may settle a little so you guys may need to add a little more down the road.

If the entire area(s) that leak are in that ‘Z’ area, from door TO short wall TO part of or all of wall where those bushes are then, really, all you need to do at THIS POINT in time is that Z-area.

It’s a little tough to guess THAT footage, from door to other short wall to longer wall/bushes, but what, its maybe 35’ total feet and the crawl wall, to footing, isn’t that deep so, just to give you guys an idea on cost for THAT footage (35’), everything included EXCEPT replacing concrete pad/steps, would be about $3,000 from wher my balding melon sits. Maybe a tad more depending on exactly how deep all areas are.

Check that above quote, forgot about the dummy permit fee so, that should be about $100, maybe a tad more.

You guys may only have 1-2 cracks in the wall(as), and then of course where the pipe comes through but the rest of the exterior openings that are allowing water in might be at, along, just under or above the grade. I would still ‘do’, waterproof all the way down in ‘these’ areas.

Q-- Jaclyn, do you guys see any ‘rod holes’ when you look at the interior basement, crawl walls? Just wondering.

As for trying to find 1+ good, experienced honest waterproofing contractors, I’d guess you should be able to find 1 but, DUE TO the big increase and continued increase in INTERIOR water-diverting systems and the increasing jokers who always want to install them only, we are dying, some can laugh but we are a dying breed.

Not crying below, just stating the facts…
We get less and less and less work every single year due to ALL the different, incompetent crap stated in many articles, online, newspapers etc. Add the radio show home improvement hosts who incompetently promote these inside nitwits to all their listeners and a lot of the rest of the media who gets paid $$ to run, ink etc advertisements from these inside system terds and will not listen to any of us exterior guys, so, most of the exterior good honest guys are gone, hard to pay one’s bills when the phone rarely rings and then the few who call, want estimates, many of them already had 2-3-4 interior scumballs over so to many homeowners, it ‘looks like’ we are the oddballs as they’ve had 2-3-4 others who ALL told the homeowners they need an interior system, lool.

Sorry, but when you’ve built a good, long, honest business and busted your butt over and over and never lied, never once took advantage of one homeowner (while most others do), to then struggle to just pay the bills in killing us, while the scumballs make millions lying, cheating homeowners every single day/inside system co’s

Ok, lool, where did I leave off, you MIGHT find an exterior contractor by contacting the city building dept OR, if you have 1+ local Builder Supply Co’s, they may know 1-2. Regradless of who you find, there is ONE way to do this/exterior waterproofing, backfilling etc and one more time, it is NOT by applying whatever kind of plastic etc dimpled membrane and backfilling with most-all of the same soil.

That is NOT the best, longest-lasting way to do this, no Maam.
Plus, the ones who backfill w/same excavated soil and only attach a memebrane and, sometimes dig w/equipment (easier and cheaper) often charge homeowners MORE!!!

Sorry for the momentary rant but, I gotta get it out from time to time! looooool

Q— May I ask, what kinds of quotes/estimates have you guys had so far? Say again, in my honest experienced opinion, what you wrote, that THEY wrote-up, is vague, need much more!

Thank you for the good words Mr. Kage! I tried calling you about 1-2 weeks ago, was your OLD posted number so obviously somebody else answered! lool He was cool, says he gets calls from time to time, people asking for you, looking for that good-honest Nachi inspector :wink:


Have you two yet considered DIY?

You could rent a small trencher to do most of the digging and I would gladly talk you through things, before , during after…just a thought.:wink:

If your hubby or you have a brother, friend or 2 that would be willing to help, ya know.

Oh, you’d save some $$ too. lol

A couple in New Hampshire, not long ago, did their own, we posted it all on, I think I still have some of their photos. They did very well.

—just tried zooming in on those BRICKS, joints by the bushes but just cannot see it good enough. Any openings/cracks/gaps in the bricks or in the joints between those bricks can be part of your problem/where water can first-enter. Other times, there can be a few+ poorly ‘tooled’ mortar joints or, thin joints where water can enter.

I know you mentioned that when the snow melted you guys got a lot in.
Just saying for some homeowners, not ALL of their problems (where water is actually entering) is with//in the basement or crawl WALL.

Sometimes there is 1+ crack in the basement wall AND 1+ other opening/gap etc which can be just below grade, along the grade, above the grade including small openings around windows, doors, the sills etc

Sorry to keep adding lool but, maybe you could call, search the STATE, see who is state licensed and insured and has no complaints and no lawsuits, don’t know if VT has state licensing, we do here.

We do have leaking rod holes in the crawlspace. My husband has read a lot about doing the interior drainage system DIY, but that makes me really nervous (jackhammering concrete and all that) but we are definitely open to doing the exterior portion ourselves. However, we’d feel much more comfortable if we had someone helping on site who knows what they are doing! lol

The company we are thinking of using has said in the past that they have the equipment to dig the hole, so I’m thinking they are not hand digging. He also was worried that we may have an old unused oil pipe running under the driveway and front door that would dramatically increase the cost.

He quoted us $11,816.80 to do everything (outside, inside, all the interior drainage for both levels of basement, etc). He did not break it down where we could see the cost of just doing the exterior work, but he mentioned in passing that it would be around $5,000. The other company we got a quote from was around $13,000 for only an interior drainage system and same scope of interior work.

Again, just my 2 cents but what they quoted is too much.

I can see in a few areas, some like NY where it may cost $20-30 more per ft but again, from here in Michigan, it appears to me that, at this point in time, unless I missed something, most, or close to all of your problems, leaks are in, what I called, that ‘Z’ area, from the bushes to that next shorter wall, to the door area/wall so for me, that’s all I would be giving anyone an estimate on unless they just hit the lotto and want more done or are going to finish the entire basement etc.

Could you try and maybe explain a little on the water that apparently was around the radon system?

Forgive me but am wondering why the push/emphasis on having an entire interior system done in the crawl.

If the water you’ve seen in most of the OTHER areas of crawl is due to some leaky rod holes etc, then you don’t need any interior system for that.

Is there some paneling/drywall against parts of the crawl-walls?

Looks like there are some underground lines outside so, if equipment is going to be used they had better identify ALL underground lines beforehand, best be insured, just in case.

Hand digging imo is best, safest for the homeowner.

There’s another good guy, an HI here who is not too far away from VT, lol he’s in Maine, Mr Marcel Cyr… what are you doing Marcel, wanna help dig? lol

Anyone say, have on contract they are going to pull permit?

Back to the one guy’s EXTERIOR quote for around $5,000.
If that includes all 3 walls, im guessing around 35’, all the way down and waterproofed, NOT just a membrane and backfilling with ALL gravel then I guess that’s not too far off.

BUT, if he is saying they would only do 1 or 2 small areas, nowhere near the 35’ I quoted, then nope, too much.

35’ for around $3,000, no more than about $3,500 for the entire 35’, waterproofed and backfilled with 99% gravel, hand dug, one day job. Does not include the concrete pad, steps replacement

Note to self-- if anybody in this business should be getting paid TOP dollar it should be someone who is licensed, insured and very experienced and not some dorky-chiseler inside system owner/salesperson

Underdog, Tricky Trap by Tap Tap the Chiseler, episode 16 1965 lol

‘When criminals in this world appear and break the laws that they should fear…’

My husband says that the guy mentioned it’s $36/ft for the interior drainage. I know it’s hard to adjust for cost in other areas, but we do live in a sort of strange climate where the cost of living is higher than it should be for the jobs in our area (folks are always complaining about it here and it’s a big topic of discussion). To give you an idea, we rented a 1 bedroom 860 sq ft apt in a brand new building for $1400/month and it was located about 10 mins away from Burlington, the “big city” here.

He has not mentioned getting a permit. There are long cracks from wall to wall in the lower basement area, about 10 of them, and they all sort of meet in the middle. Right now all those cracks are damp and have white foamy-looking stuff on them. The radon gas emissions pipe was installed about 6 months ago and it’s in the far corner of the lower basement area. We had a big rain/snow melt a few days ago and water was coming up through the cracks and around the radon pipe.

Our basement is completely unfinished–there is no drywall or anything on the walls. Majority of the water is coming from above the rod holes, just a little water is coming from the actual rod holes.

36’ for interior and they want that amount huh? Wow, no way, not me anyways.

Some of these owners/salespeople pretty much know what they can bid and get away with, especially in areas such as yours where there’s little competition, sad.

Hmm, to save some hard earned green maybe DIY it.

These long cracks, nobody said anything, nobody saw them or, any of these other problems, leaks?

These other cracks are in the crawl-walls, floor, both??

Are there any gaps/openings AROUND the radon pipe in the floor?

860 sq 1 bdr for $1,400 = skeery

Hmm, didn’t say anything about a permit. Are either state licensed and insured?
They should have showed you their Lic, insurance when they greeted you guys, sheesh, I do…I must be getting old

If they break up your bsmt floor and one of your walls collapse etc, does their insurance cover that? This has happened to others including Everdry in Michigan, yep.

They, Everdry was jack hammering the bsmt floor along the wall and BOOM< wall collapsed and Everdrys insurance did NOT cover it and then I lost track of that story.

Some interior Co’s have hit oil lines under a basement floor, caused leaks, one recently in New York, BIG TIME clean up, very COSTLY

If they hit an outside line or part of your house with equipment, does their insurance cover that? And so on.

Will they put down thick plywood etc over your grass to protect it when using equipment?

And with all the snow melting into the soil, sometimes driveway slabs CRACK when operating, using equipment on,over it

A SPARK can occur when using equipment underground, don’t want them hitting a gas line plus a spark, they could scrape/hit concrete, or an electrical switch etc etc

Any sprinkler lines near area? Now those, I will not replace, reclamp anymore, nope.
But you guys, other homeowners need to know beforehand, just in case

NOT trying to worry ya’s, no. These are just some of the questions that need answers beforehand, just in case