Water drainage hole?

Discussion in 'General Home Improvement Discussion' started by jmr106, Aug 21, 2016.

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  1. Aug 21, 2016 #1

    jmr106

    jmr106

    jmr106

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    While completing a project of removing an old cast iron drain pipe and converting it to pvc, I've noticed something. I've been dealing with the "problem hole" ( dug out area of the crawlspace with a retaining wall around it; heating/air system and water heater sit in it and are at risk for flood if pumps fail or power is lost) for a while now and trying to figure out a solution. It only takes on water when it rains a lot. 2-3 days of moderate to heavy rain can bring in tens of gallons per minute. During a local flash flood warning (pretty rare for our area and we live on a street with a hill), I have seen both pumps kick on and stay on for a considerable amount of time. Water did not go above the said makeshift sump hole that exists there, but it also wasn't really going down very fast, either. Those pumps throw out about 100+ gallons per minute with both pumps running. They were keeping it in check and it didn't creep out of the hole, but waterflow was coming in so far as areas all around the wall that they both stayed on for a while. That's not a normal event and may only happen during big rain systems.

    On the back side of the wall to the left of the water heater, there's the base cinderblock that is turned sideways to let water out of the wall. There are many of these around the wall in various places. That particular one gets most of the water flow out of it for some reason. Tonight when I was fixing a pipe, I saw this on the other side of the wall:

    [​IMG]


    The three other sides of the wall do not have this big opening there between the wall and the dirt. I presume that when they were digging this hole to put up the wall, they either dug too far/long and decided to leave some space or...most of the dirt visible on the floor inside of the hole has been washed down from this particular side. Both could be feasible. In the photo above, the foundation wall of the house is behind me about 3 feet or so.

    The next photo is from the area at the bottom right of the above photo:

    That little gulley there apparently gets the water flow. I see this "hole" in the dirt under where I took the above photo from:

    [​IMG]

    At first I thought, "Are those clam shells?!?" when I saw the white things at the bottom. I'm not quite sure what those are. The dark pieces literally look like a bunch of walnuts or pecans or something with holes in them. I've never seen any squirrels in the basement. The "white" pieces look like a cross between half egg shells and sometimes it looks like some kind of plastic bottle lids at other angles.

    I stuck the camera down as far as I could down in front of the hole and saw this:

    [​IMG]


    Since water flows from that side the most and this hole literally looks like some kind of solid and regular hole that the water flows in through during heavy rains, it brings a lot of questions to mind:

    If that dirt in fact washed in from behind the wall and into the hole inside of the retaining wall, how is it that there is a single base hole at the bottom of it and not a long "gash" hole from top to bottom as it eroded away?

    Even if the dirt was dug out that way, what would cause a single hole like this? I didn't expect to see such a thing. I figured that water just comes in from dirt surrounding the wall and that was that. I guess the water "could" carve such a path through the dirt and some of it may have been more hard packed than the other parts, so a hole formed. I don't understand why that didn't happen above or on either side since it is the same type of dirt.

    I'm pretty much wondering if this random hole is where most of the water flow is coming from. Something related to a cracked foundation somewhere underground? A old bad drain outside funneling water under the house? None of the other 3 sides of the wall have this. I have even entertained the idea of an intermittent stream running underneath the house. Old 1927-1930 topo maps actually show that one was near or under this house and ran from some random place up the street all the way down to the end of the street. However, on later topo maps, that intermittent stream is no longer there.

    What the heck could this be? I'll be checking it when we get a lot of rain again and see if water flows out of there. If it does...how do I determine what it is and what is causing it?
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
  2. Aug 22, 2016 #2

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    They likely back filled what they thought was a dry ditch when they built the house. And maybe when the basement was dug out they didn't see it, there must have been an exit hole to , if you new where that was you could just pipe a connection and then pump a lot less water.
     
  3. Aug 22, 2016 #3

    jmr106

    jmr106

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    Could be. My curiosity gets the best of me in situations like this just because that irritating part of me wants to "know" for no reason at all. Especially since they've dealt with it over the years and nobody knew what to do. Once I get the old sewer pipe fixed in hopefully a week or two, I'll have a new water heater put in (that one is many years old and has flooded at least once) and elevated as high as possible. Shortly after that, I'll get several estimates of flipping that system or putting in a similar/possibly smaller system if a new one would be the same price of flipping it. Bring in the gravel to fill that hole up about halfway or more, put the proper sump basin/pumps in, cover the top of that gravel with poly and probably call it a day after that.

    Among my next thoughts are figuring out how to get that much gravel down there. I'm not about to have a huge dump truck or similar truck risk a drive over the back yard. I'll probably just have them dump it in the edge of the back yard and take it to the crawlspace. That's quite a lot of cubic meters of crushed gravel. I might make some kind of makeshift ramp that goes from outside of the crawlspace door and will let me just sort of push it down into the hole from there. Or I could get something like those big plastic cement mixer pans, fill it with gravel and push that inside of the door on something that will let it slide. Get it to the edge of the hole and dump it in quantity. Quite eager to get that done in the near future. June through November is hurricane season. We've been missed by the tropical storms and such so far that have skimmed up the coast.
     
  4. Aug 22, 2016 #4

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    http://www.flipdocs.com/showbook.aspx?ID=10017934_143812

    rent a small conveyor for moving it under the house, most tool rental stores can find these, sometimes the people that sell gravel have small ones for jobs like yours.
    First place to try, if you have a United Tool Rental.
     
  5. Aug 22, 2016 #5

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    Just wondering, I see the egg shells and nut shells, what is the black stuff, burnt wood?
    It would have been common practice to pile up wood waist and burn it, if they used that for fill it might have made a perfect home for rodents.
    You said this water is worst when you have days of rain, I wonder if it is bad when the water fills the yard to reach a rodent tunnel, if you could find that you might fill it with grout and plug the intake.
    You might find the intake when the yard is full of water, by spreading a little sawdust so you could see where the water is draining too.
     
  6. Aug 22, 2016 #6

    slownsteady

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    If you have a window into the crawlspace from the front or side of the house, you can make/rent a chute for the gravel.
    Just a thought, but that water channel that you discovered might be a major source of all your water worries. I would be inclined to check that out before the other projects. You may get a shorter list if you can make an improvement there.
     
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  7. Aug 22, 2016 #7

    jmr106

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    I'll try to use something to get a piece of each of those and see what it is when I go back down there.

    As far as I can tell, the water starts when the ground outside becomes completely saturated. It begins as a small amount that becomes enough to start running into the floor of the hole to make the pump go off every 10-15 minutes. As it continues to rain more and more, the flow increases. 2-3 days of moderate to heavy rain can typically cause it to come on and pump about 60 gallons out every 2-3 minutes in the worst of cases. I have looked around the house and part of the yard closer to the house...I don't really see any rodent tunnels that I haven't taken care of. The absolute worst that I have seen was when it rained for 2-3 days and then I got a text alert one morning that "flash flooding with begin in xx minutes." I've checked FEMA maps and such. It isn't within a flood plain.
     
  8. Aug 22, 2016 #8

    jmr106

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    Nope, not a single window. Just the one crawlspace door and 7 crawlspace vents (sideways cinderblocks built into the foundation). The pump end of the hole is about 6 feet inside of the crawlspace door, so my best bet is to go in directly from there and then get a big pile into that side of the hole and just spread it around and push it down to the other side. It will take a lot of work, but will make it cleaner and easier to work down there. I'm still going to get the other stuff done and elevate the equipment. That has sort of become my personal vendetta that nobody else could figure out a way to address. At least that way I won't have to worry about water finding another path. I'm just curious...I may continue my search and see if I can locate anything that may be the source for that. It is mainly my curiosity...

    Also, the vent covers. I'm debating back and forth with which ones to seal off completely. I'm using the typical metal vent covers

    [​IMG]

    Some are already sealed. I have concerns about how many rodents are in the general area (have seen some in the yards next door, as well), so I don't want to leave the dampers parts of the vents open and have a rodent chew through the screen. I have some mesh wire with holes about the size of peas in it that I have pondered putting on the back of some of these vents (particularly the ones closer to where the water heater and system are) so that there can be air flow for the gas furnace and water heater, yet a mouse can't chew through it. The regular screen in addition to the mesh will keep the insects out, but let air through. Think it will work?
     
  9. Aug 22, 2016 #9

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    I like that idea on the vents, you do want them open, you will always have lots of moisture and you want to give it a way out.
     
  10. Aug 22, 2016 #10

    jmr106

    jmr106

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    Also, I found some curious things when I was in the crawlspace. Ever seen this before? I see them in various places around the foundation. I can't figure out what the point of it is.

    [​IMG]

    It is like some big rocks stacked on each other within a hole that appears to be cut out of the foundation. Yet they aren't holding anything. I saw maybe 3-4 of these and there may be more elsewhere. What the heck could it be?


    I also found this:

    [​IMG]

    The heating/air system and the water heater both vent out of the same water heater stack. This is probably a good 6 feet or more from the back side of the wall, so the system vents a considerable distance. The part that I've circled in red (I don't have a pic of the back side for some reason)...the opposite side has torn away from whatever that white water heater vent is called. So the left half is open. Not good at all. Quite dangerous. We aren't using the furnace now anyway, but I'm going to fix that soon. It just looks like the screws pulled out. Maybe one of the HVAC people that checked the system recently was going under the vent and pulled on it, causing it to come loose.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2016
  11. Aug 22, 2016 #11

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    Maybe they left holes for the plumber to get his pipes in and plugged the holes later, it looks like the lower rock was up top and fell down.

    Maybe the picture of the chimney vent should be posted in HVAC, Is that asbestos wrapping it?
     
  12. Aug 22, 2016 #12

    jmr106

    jmr106

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    I'll do that. Above the crawlspace, this runs into the bathroom closet. It has been painted over so many times over the years that I doubt that there is any threat if it is asbestos. Then on up into the attic and out of the roof, of course. In the bathroom when I knock on it, it feels like just some kind of plain metal under the paint. It has an echo that I would expect for such a metal. It doesn't feel padded or wrapped at all as far as I can tell.
     
  13. Aug 22, 2016 #13

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    It should be boxed in the closet with drywall, it's a fire stop thing.
     
  14. Aug 23, 2016 #14

    nealtw

    nealtw

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  15. Aug 23, 2016 #15

    nealtw

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    http://www.brightdyes.com/quote.html
    Different colored dyes could be dumped in different areas of the yard when it rains heavy to find where the water is coming from, it says it is safe and degradable.
     
  16. Aug 23, 2016 #16

    jmr106

    jmr106

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    Erm...not quite at this house.

    [​IMG]

    I'm going to let someone else deal with that issue, however.
     
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  17. Sep 2, 2016 #17

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    Just wondering how you are doing?
     
  18. Sep 2, 2016 #18

    GBR

    GBR

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    The dark ones look like chestnut shells that squirrels have already eaten out, possibly washed in from the exterior by the incoming water flow, same with the white (mold) ones. Did the rock chunk break the PVC pipe (drain line; 1-1/2-2") or is that your incoming water supply (1-1/4")? Where is the house that you don't require floor insulation or HVAC duct insulation with joints taped/vapor barrier. Where is the ground vapor barrier plastic? Did you find the source of your water, to have flood vents and fix the exterior downspouts/gutters? Have you watched the water usage on your house city meter for possible rupture/leak causing the damage. That is a lot of extra water, doesn't appear to be clay soil directing it in to your crawlspace. Appears to be a "grain" pattern in the cloth covering the ducts, don't breath any dust if cutting it- they should take precautions that is is asbestos. Are you at bottom or top of hill?

    Gary
     
  19. Sep 2, 2016 #19

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    Gary, all these problems are related and we haven't solved anything yet,

    He is aware of all these problems, it's more about what can be done and which to do first.
    http://www.houserepairtalk.com/showthread.php?t=19909
    http://www.houserepairtalk.com/showthread.php?t=19967
    http://www.houserepairtalk.com/showthread.php?t=20072
    http://www.houserepairtalk.com/showthread.php?t=20198
    http://www.houserepairtalk.com/showthread.php?t=20338
    http://www.houserepairtalk.com/showthread.php?t=20341
    http://www.houserepairtalk.com/showthread.php?t=20436
    http://www.houserepairtalk.com/showthread.php?t=20502
    http://www.houserepairtalk.com/showthread.php?t=20503
    http://www.houserepairtalk.com/showthread.php?t=20921
    http://www.houserepairtalk.com/showthread.php?t=20922
    http://www.houserepairtalk.com/showthread.php?t=20930
     
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  20. Sep 2, 2016 #20

    jmr106

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    Probably on Sunday, I'm going to change those two air ducts that are basically in the way of the cast iron sewer pipes that I'll be changing out to PVC in the near future. Both of those ducts have been leaked on. I don't know for sure whether they will change the ducts again when they flip the system, but I don't have a choice. Price them around $40-$50 each at Home Depot. With those ducts in the way, I can't even see what goes where or what pieces of pipe I would need ahead of time. I should have taken a photo of it. I saw an R-rating number on the side of one of the ducts. It was R-7 or R-8.

    I now have a 30 watt 3,000 lumen led work light for down there. It can likely just shine up at the floor and will light up a huge area simply from the reflective lighting. Got tired of darkness and awkward lights.

    When I change those sewer pipes to PVC, I'll then bring in a plumber to deal with changing the water heater out for a new one. It has some years on it and has been flooded once. I don't want to deal with that later when the flipped system might be in the way. I'll have a couple of plumbers change the water heater out and move that back to the right corner as far as I can get it, elevating it as high as I can get it per code.

    Still mulling over precisely what I can put down in that hole to elevate the water heater with that will withstand water and the gravel. Whatever it is, it will have to stay put and will have to have the gravel simply put around it as-is. Trying to put the water heater on top of the gravel after it has been put down is just way too much trouble and would be too far into the future to be feasible. Need something that will last for years. I don't want to mess up anything for the future owners. Trying to factor in that whatever is used may sink into the dirt just a little due to the more concentrated weight (whereas the actual tank sitting on the ground right now has spread-out surface area). Apparently the big cement blocks crack over time. Wooden stands like many people use are not feasible in a hole that would be wet with gravel and water. I like the idea of moving the water heater it in front of the system, but that's likely not going to happen. The vent is too far, they would probably want to power vent it due to the distance and that would go on into more electrical complications that I'd rather not deal with.

    After that, quotes on flipping the system.

    Various people have told me to "just fill in the hole in with dirt" after flipping the system....but I don't trust that. I know nothing about the layout of the land or house before they built it and before this hole was dug out. I'm not even sure that the former owners knew what they unleashed. From what I gather, they did it as a prerequisite to sell to my parents and satisfy the federal housing authority. They green lighted it and obviously moved afterwards. It is possible that they never saw water flow down there.

    Whatever smaller stuff (gutters, etc.) will be done in between.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2016

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