A friend’s shiny diesel Ford for your time:

So our basement has a walk-out level with a big sliding door. We actually put a new one in recently, but that’s somewhat unrelated. The thing is, whoever landscaped the area back in 1987 didn’t really consider that the grade of the area outside of the door is higher than the basement floor. So guess what? If it rains hard enough, water can fill up the area by the door and come in the basement.

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I will say, the drains around the foundation work pretty well because it only seems to happen in the winter, when the ground is frozen, and the gutter above this area is also full of ice. When it rains in the winter and snow and ice are everywhere, water goes all kinds of new and interesting places because the ground is so much less permeable than in the summer.

A few years ago, I dug out around the door, moved the low area back a bit, and verified that the perimeter drain was clear, or so I thought. All I could see was a pipe that received the downpipe from the gutter and lined up perfectly with where the perimeter drainpipe seemed to go. I found where that pipe daylights about 50' from the house, and cleared it out so it flowed freely.

Yet, there are still times where I see water building up in front of that door. If I’m home, I can manage it by setting up a little pump outside the door. But it happened overnight once this spring, and it was a real hassle.

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Now I’m on a tear to fix it right and be done with it, and when I dug a little deeper, I found that the perimeter drain does NOT share an exit with the gutter. In fact, the gutter drain was probably added later, as it goes in a different direction and isn’t as deep as the other drain. And now I know there’s a second pipe and I don’t know where it comes out.

gray pipe was a new discovery. and yes, there’s duct tape on the gutter drain pipe. seems fine

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No problem, I’ll just follow a line to where it comes out, and dig down..... wait.

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Last year we built the shed you see in the top left of the above pic. I knew where the other drain came out, marked it carefully, and it is fine. But I didn’t know there was a second one, and now I don’t know where it ends, except that it probably ends somewhere under the shed. Lovely.

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I dug a second hole about 12' from the house to verify that the pipe continues in that direction. It also gave me a point of reference for running a string along the likely location of the pipe. The I proceeded to dig around under the shed. This was fun.

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I found nothing and hit some huge rocks, so I gave up for now. My next step is going to be to dig yet another “sounding” hole right in front of the shed to see if the pipe is still present there on the line I’ve been following. Then I guess just continue that in a trench straight under the shed until I find the end? Ugh. I’d rather not have a giant trench in front of the shed... nor under it. But at least my kids are old enough I don’t really have to worry about them falling into the pits of death I keep making. I could probably fill in the one closer to the house at this point, and just leave a stake in the ground at the centerline of the pipe for reference.

I did stick a hose down the gray pipe with a small nozzle on the end that pushed out a pretty strong stream of water, to see if I could get it to show me where the water is leaking out and reveal the location of the end - however slowly it may be doing so. But all it did was backfill the area by the door. At least that verified to me that if I clear that pipe, the drainage will be greatly improved around that area. I know very little water is getting out, so I sort of found the problem?

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I AM getting a tractor with a little backhoe attachment from a friend this weekend. That’ll make much more of a mess for sure, er, I mean, it’ll speed up the process. Then I’m enlarging the area by the door that’s lower in grade, and filling that with larger stone, then covering the stone with either a steel grate or a basic platform of PT decking or something. I’m tempted to dig a wider trench all the way across to the shed and fill that with larger stone, but we’ll see how it goes finding the end of that drain first. And how long I can keep the tractor, and how many trips to the gravel pit it takes with my truck to get the fill I already need.


Where I’d rather be: