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engineer1969 09-23-2012 09:55 AM

Square foot hole in basement floor
3 Attachment(s)
I've attached 3 photos of a hole we have in our basement. The hole was covered during our initial home inspection and the first time I saw it was during our final walkthrough. At the time I didn't think much of it, but now I have growing concern after a home improvement show I recently saw.

My first concern is that I don't understand the purpose of the hole. It appears to be some sort of draining mechanism. It is about 2 feet in depth, has brick sidewalls (but not squared up), has two cement pipes coming in near the top and a single metal pipe coming straight up from the bottom and angling 90 degrees towards the shower drain in the next room. The bottom is damp earth. I am not certain if it is solid underneath. I can barely reach through the bars with my arm without getting stuck or scratching myself. The shower drain feeds into the main sewer drainage line under the toilet in the same bathroom.

My second concern is that angled metal pipe appears to be flaking/rusting/degrading. What is it for and will this be a problem.

My third concern is that there appears to be mold growing. Humidity isn't much of an issue in our basement except for the summer months when it is oppressively humid outside. A portable dehumidifier does the job to keep it under control. The rest of the year we do not have issues. I think the mold is contained to the hole itself.

I have only seen water in this hole on one occasion. We had a heavy spring snow storm followed immediately by 70 degree days. The lawn had percolating springs which you could hear during this period. There was at least a foot of water in the hole but there appeared to be no danger of flooding at the time.

Any ideas on how I should proceed. I haven't had much luck searching on what this hole might be or how to handle it.


joecaption 09-23-2012 11:03 AM

It's an old floor drain. In theory if the basement flooded the water could run out the drain out to the street or to the yard.

inspectorD 09-24-2012 05:51 AM

Looks like a perimeter drain that goes around the interior floor of the basement.
To be sure, I would run water at every water fixture in the house to see if anything comes out. If it does, call a plumber.

If not, It is a drain for groundwater and should be continuously monitored during large rain events or meltoff from snow. If you want to install a sump pump for secondary protection you may sleep better, although it may never be needed.
I would make a cover for the hole out of something with no organic matter so it does not mold up on you. No carpet, wood or plywood. A peice of plastic that can hold some weight would work best. I often find that a piece of plastic under the plywood still gets mold.
Good luck.

Wuzzat? 09-24-2012 03:38 PM

Depending on where you live it's also an inlet for Radon gas.

For $16 you can get a water level alarm; over the years your soil water level may rise.

Our sump pump runs occasionally but I've never tried whether the water will rise all the way to the basement floor surface with the pump unplugged.

engineer1969 09-24-2012 04:52 PM

Thanks for the responses. I did run all the water sources and didn't see any water nor hear any water. Any ideas why that metal pipe is in there? It goes straight down into the earth and looks like the other end may be connected to my sewer line. If I were to invite someone out to take a look at it, should it be a plumber or some other type of professional?

jmc0319 09-24-2012 05:11 PM

My parents had one of these in our basement when I was a kid. The couple of times the basement flooded badly we took the cap off that pipe the water would drain out to the city sewers.

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