Need some help here

Can anyone tell me if it was standard practice about 45 to 50 years ago to create what I think is called a cove joint ( small ditch on the inside of the wall) where a masonary block foundation meets a basement floor?


The cove joint is simply where the foundation wall meets the floor…

Water Seepage At The Cove Joint - Figures 15, 16 & 16b

Figure 15 - Water seepage from cove joint

Figure 16 - Drain pipe installed under basement concrete floor
The area where either a poured concrete wall or a block wall meets the floor is called the “cove joint”. This joint is not watertight. The concrete sits on the footer that was poured to support the wall. If water is underneath the floor concrete slab and is under pressure it will seep through this joint and enter the basement. The problem is called to high a level of “hydrostatic pressure”.
The remedy for water seepage caused by hydrostatic pressure is to lay perforated drainage piping below the concrete floor around the perimeter of the floor. It is best if this is done on the interior of the basement, as shown in Figure 16, where the collected water is delivered to a sump pump to be removed. However, it can be treated on the exterior of the home by excavating to the footers and adding perforated drainage piping around the foundation as shown in Figure 16b.

Figure 16b - Placement of drainage pipe on interior and exterior walls
A common mistake made by homeowners is to seal the cove joint. If the water pressure is at a level where it will enter the basement area through the cove joint, and you do not provide any relief for the pressure, sealing the cove joint can cause the basement floor to heave and crack.

Thanks William that clears up my improper term.

What I’m looking for is information regarding a ditch, channel or mote located at the cove joint. Would this have been standard, or common practice for a 45-50 year old home?

Usually I have found the floor was poured again to create the channel later after the foundation was found to be leaking. It is common around here. If there is a finished wall in front of it, it can be create hidden mold growth inside the wall.

I would fathom a guess to say no. Does it look preformed, or was it cut into the slab?
I’ve seen maybe one or two preformed “drainage ditches” installed in all my inspections. If my memory serves me correctly they were in the width between 2-4 inches and only about 1 inch deep. Anything larger than that was probably an inside repair effort at some point in history of the home in my opinion.

Hope that helps…

Thanks Guys

The chanel is about 2" wide and about 1" deep. Can’t really tell if it was cut or preformed.

I have see this on numerous occasions and it has become an item for discussion.

Anybody else have any input?


In the “Better Built” homes series from CMHC / CHBA in the 1980’s, the interior perimeter drain was called the Haligonian drain since it was believed to be used here in the early 1900’s. Home owners began pouring concrete floors over their basement dirt floors which of course had field stone/mortar foundations with some water leakage to the interior. The drain kept the leaking water off the concrete floor and directed to a sump pit/drain system.

In one area of Halifax in which I have inspected quite a few post-war vets’ homes (1945-1955) , every house has a 2-3" x 4" interior perimeter drain.

In the 1980’s-early 90’s, I worked in Moncton, Brunswick. About 40-50 % of new homes had floor slabs with interior perimeter drains.

I would never pour a concrete floor slab in a sub-grade foundation without the interior perimeter drain.

Thanks for the info Brian