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Sump pump runoff  RSS feed

 
Posts: 14
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Hello, I didn't know exactly where to post this.

I recently moved to Greenwood Lakes NY and love it. My house if located a bit below the water table so I had someone come in an install a sump pump to release the water. Sometimes I get up to 5,000 a week pumped sometimes none. I have a relatively small plot about 3,000 square feet and a septic close to the pump outlay. There is a drain about 25 ft away but I would love to slow the water down and utilize it before I send it to the drain, if I send it there at all. I have a neighbor close by and the lawn area is the leach field area for my sump pump.

i was hoping to get some good ideas how to best utilize this water from all the brilliant people on this site. My soil is clayey(if that's a word) the area is a bit shaded by neighbors tree and has okay drainage.

I was thinking maybe a small pond or rain garden. Someone suggested to me that I could run some small pipes a bit underground and run water to other spots that need it in my garden but I wasn't sure if I should cross my leach field and not sure if the water would have enough force to go very far.

Any ideas would be appreciated.

Thanks
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Posts: 596
Location: Bendigo , Australia
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A bit clearer information would be helpful.
What do you mean the house is below the water table? Does that mean it hs water under it all the time?
Or do you mean surface water is running into a basement?
What units is the 5000 figure?

Underground pipes can be laid anywhere, its just a matter of pipe size and pump capacity to get it done.
Wat is your rainfall like?
Do you actually need to use more water on the garden when flooding your low spot?
The drain 25ft away- is that an open earthen drain, is it lined or simply a larger pipe underground/
Where does it discharge to?
regards
 
Chad Pilieri
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Thank you so much for your answer. I was being a lazy, bad permie.

I live a few blocks from a huge Lake, in my garage is a dug out hole with a strong sump pump, there is always water in that hole(that's covered) that seems to rise and fall with the lake and rainfall. Thank god it never goes above the hole level but probably would if not for the sump pump. I get a weekly reading and has gone from a high of 5,000 gallons a week to zero.

We get lots of precipitation via rain and snow avg 53 inches a year rainfall. I just moved here but I think I will get lots of water. That one area where pipe discharges is getting water logged. I want to follow good Permie practices and utilize and slow water down, I plan on getting rain barrels for my house.

The drain I have looks like a sewer drain. I believe it goes into the lake, I am asking around but no one seems sure. I would like to use all my water as intelligently as possible and not just pour it back to the lake to then raise water level again.

I hope that helps and feel free to ask more questions.

I appreciate your time

Chad


 
John C Daley
Posts: 596
Location: Bendigo , Australia
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Ok, lets think about it.
If the sump pump fails, will the water flow out bt itself, or will the garage fill with water to a particular depth/
3Ft 6 Ft?
5000 gals a week is pretty high levels of discharge, the costs of energy for that will build up.
What volume are your rain barrels?
In Australia we would fit 5000gal tanks to a house and use that water inside the house.
What do you call a sewer drain?
Is it an open ditch, a closed pipe?
I need to get an idea of where the waterlogged soil is in relation to your pump?
Are you just circulating the same water?
Any pump discharge should be taken as far from the sump as is possible.
You speak of a couple of blocks, what would that be in terms of a standard form of measurement?
IE 200yards?
1/2 mile?
 
Chad Pilieri
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Thanks for really working on this with me.

I would say I'm about 300 yards from a Lake and 250 from a pond, i am not in a flood zone. I hope to never find out what happens if my pump did not work but i assume the water would rise from the  hole and come into my garage and basement. We have had lots of snow the last few weeks and water level is very high. 5,000 gallons in a week is the most by far, I have had weeks that have had no water pumped but on avg I would say 400 gallons a week. plus i have 2 gutter downspouts connected to that same release pipe which is even more water during rains. The pump is very efficient and hasn't killed my electric bill.

I do not have rain barrels as of yet but hope to set 60 gallon ones in the next few months, they are in a different area near my house.

I have attached a few pictures to help show pump outlay and that is where all the water is going, that's the water I want to do something with. Also a pic of the sewer drains, I asked around and it seems they have a filter and eventually lead back to the lake which of course just raises the water level. The Lake will be a whole other post since they need to spray it with a herbicide to  try to control algae growth, I'm sure the runoff doesn't help.

My thoughts were to either make a small pathway towards the drain using gravity and some offshoots going towards water loving, shade tolerant plants. I just want to utilize that water the smartest way possible.

Thanks again, your questions are a real tool for me to learn.

Chad



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John C Daley
Posts: 596
Location: Bendigo , Australia
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When you are located that close to a lake with a high water table, I doubt there is much you can do to reduce the level of the water by actions of your own.
What you call a sewer drain, I believe is a storm water drain.
Sewer pipes carry sewerage and grey waiter from households and districts to treatment plants.
Back to the storm water drain. Its logical discharge point is going to be the lake area.
I doubt there would be much of a 'filter', I think it may be a 'trash trap ' to catch plastic bags and other floating rubbish.
Filters are usually made from very fine material, trash traps may have bars 11/2" wide.

I have attached a few pictures to help show pump outlay


I assume you mean outlet , which is the normal term used to describe the discharge point of a pipe.
How far from your house is that outlet point?
I am concerned any discharge from that may be just entering the ground and trickling back to your pump.

Is it possible to discharge that pipe to the storm water drain, through the grate?
Also, from the photo that includes the vision of a wire fence, it looks like the land away from the camera [ and the tartan trousers] is a foot or so lower than your land,
is that correct?
If so, that level difference may actually be helping to keep the water table lower near your home.

Jumping right back to history.
Has the house always had a sump pump?
If the power went out, what depth of water would enter you basement and garage?
Algae can sometimes be controlled by snails or other aquatic beasts.
The algae is growing because of nutrient build up and there may be alternatives.
In Australia, Melbourne we physically pull it out and compost the stuff.

 
Chad Pilieri
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It's definitely a storm drain.

The outlet is about 40ft from my house, that's a great point that it might be going back into the ground and back to my pump. The drain is about 30 ft away from the outlet and about 70 ft from my house. Actually, the picture that shows the pants in a different drain in front of the house, I didn't want to walk through the snow but its basically the same as my drain out back.

I'm sure I could run a pipe or ditch straight to the storm drain. I was just thinking that Permaculture always talks about slowing water down but it seems you feel its best to take that water right away.

I have only lived here since August but I believe the family before me had some water issues according to the neighbor and he had an old crappy sump pump. My new pump has a back up battery that would run for about a day or two if there was a power outage.

The lake near me is 9 miles long and is partially man made so I don't think snails or pulling stuff out is an option. In the next few weeks I plan on looking into more details of Greenwood Lake.

Again thank you for your great input.
 
John C Daley
Posts: 596
Location: Bendigo , Australia
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You must be up late, its 3pm here in Bendigo, warm and dry

I was just thinking that Permaculture always talks about slowing water down



That statement is correct for properties that don't have underground basements.
It really refers to oven land areas, IE Rural when slowing the water down allows more to seep into the soil, and by slowing it down it reduces the chance of erosion by fast moving water.

If you are going to discharge the sump pump water at the storm drain, use a pipe all the way. Otherwise some of that flow may just go back to your pump.
I take it the pipe needs to be extended another 30 ft, that should not be too expensive.

I would suggest you start recording daily discharges, just out of interest to see if the volume of water changes with the extension of the pipe.
 
John C Daley
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Location: Bendigo , Australia
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The lake was originally called "Quampium" by the Munsee Native Americans who lived there

But the area around the lake has changed drastically in recent decades into a commuter suburb of modified bungalows and larger, newly built homes.
Construction and year-round living have increased runoff into the lake, depositing sediment on the bottom and gradually making some areas too shallow to navigate.
The problem is worse on the already shallow New Jersey side, essentially an artificial extension of the lake created by damming the Wanaque River in the 1860’s.
There is so much sediment in the lake bottom, that the water has gone from 7 ft deep to 2 feet deep, this is another part of the problem.


Other problems include leaching from septic systems all around the lake, and discharges from sewage-treatment plants into Belchers Creek, which flows into the lake’s southern end in West Milford, N.J. Weeds and algae that feed on waste-related nutrients snarl propeller blades; in 2000, the overgrowth forced an end to annual speedboat races that had drawn thousands of spectators.

This year, the unusually mild winter kept the lake from freezing over, leading to a bumper crop of weeds.



“It’s very common,” said Fred S. Lubnow, a freshwater ecologist with Princeton Hydro, a consulting firm hired by the Greenwood Lake Commission to study the problems. “You have a lot of lake communities that used to be just seasonal dwellings that have been converted to year-round. More houses, and that generates more pollutants. Phosphorus is the primary limiting nutrient, and one pound can generate 1,100 pounds of weeds.”

Lake Hopatcong, about 35 miles southwest, “has the same problem,” Mr. Lubnow said.

Steps are being taken at Greenwood Lake to stem the weedy tide. Mr. Lubnow drafted a plan calling for storm water basins that would remove phosphorus from runoff using filtration or settling. Plantings were proposed to curb soil erosion.

The commission is using weed harvesters, machines that one of its co-chairmen, Steve DeFeo, described as “basically, a lawn mower on a barge.” Ultimately, he said, the commission plans a $12 million dredging project to reverse decades of neglect.

 
Chad Pilieri
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Thanks for the lookup, when the weather gets a bit nicer I plan on taking an extensive boat tour of the Lake to really analyze the situation.

The company handling the issue just spoke at our town meeting. They said the m ain problem is Milfoil which they will use an herbicide Sonar if needed, and aquafoil. Duckweed and water chestnuts (use rodeo)are also an issue that they will monitor. They want to try hydro raking to clean bottom, a bacterial enhancement program and aeration. The PH of the lake is 6.5-7.5. I would like to find a solution that doesn't involve herbicide.

Thanks for the input and any ideas how to best use the sump pump water?


Ike to find a solution that doesn't
 
Posts: 52
Location: Sweden
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Chad Pilieri wrote:

Thanks for the input and any ideas how to best use the sump pump water?



To be honest, considering the amount of nasty shit they're pouring (or planning to pour) into the lake, I wouldn't try to use it at all; I'd try to get it off my land with as little soak-in as possible. Think about it; if the lake is the source of the water, and it's full of herbicides, what's it going to do to your soil if you let it soak in? Piping it directly into the storm drain would be my first choice, and then, if there are any spots that do need watering, I'd use rainwater.
 
Chad Pilieri
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That's a great point and i was thinking the same thing but was also thinking that the water I am pumping is more from the water table.

I was thinking that the water is more linked to the ground water that gets saturated and is somewhat filtered by the earth but I will research more.

Thank you so much for taking the time to work with me and you really helped me see my site much clearer.






 
John C Daley
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I am interested to hear which part of the post you found interesting and informative?
 
Posts: 74
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Chad,
Bad News:It would appear that when you bought your house you obviously bought a problem
Good news:  Problems
Better news: Some probablems can be solved easily especially if they are common problems that others have had to solve.

Cautionary:  The first three rules of Civil Engineering are 1) Drainage, 2) Drainage, and 3)Drainage.

Question:
In that picture labeled "IMG_1874.JPG"  Is that yellowish house yours or is your house similarly situated, i.e. a ways down a slope !  If that is the case, your problem may be amenable to a simple solution if the problem it is a result of water moving down the hill and running up against the house.  That is to say that if your problems derive from your house acting like a dam for water going down the hill.   If that is the case the contractor who built it might ought to be strung up for not having addressed the issue at that time.

We need more information about your house. and the sump pump locations.

1. How is your hous built:
a. Does it sit on top of the ground (aka slab on grade)
b. Does it have a basement
c. Is the house a walk out on the down hill side but have the ground piled up aginst the up hill side

2. What kind of soil do you have
3.  Please go to google maps and look up your house location and get us an aerial view of your lot including the area arround the house, maybe 100 feet in every direction
4.  Please also get us a map of your house all the way to the lake and pond
5.  Please annotate the map even if you have to print it out and draw on it and then scan or rephotograph the paper copy to get something you can post here.   If we had your address, we could probably extract more map information than you know to supply.

After seeing your photos I am suspicious exactly where the water is coming from that is plaguing your house.  

6. If you poured a 5 gallon bucket in the middle of your garage floor would it run over to the garage door and run out if you opened the door.
7. Do you have to drive up hill at all just to get to get your car out of the garage???  
8. What is the lowest point of the floor anywhere in your house.
9. How far do you have to dig to get to bed rock
a. under the house
b. on each side of your house.
10 if you walk around your house on which sides if any would you be walking down hill if you turned and walked straight toward your house.   (for instance from my house it is down hill in any direction I walk away from my house,

As a licensed professional engineer, I would be inclined to say any dwelling that requires a sump pump to remain livable is probably the wrong design or just should not have been built there, but for what its worth I encountered a house that required two sewage lift pumps in series to remain livable as it required a first pump to lift the sewage to the second lift pump that then lifted the sewage higher than the ridge pole of the roof! .... Care to guess what ended up in the basement if either one of the pumps failed ....... Yeccccch  Code enforcement and inspections must have really failed or been bribed on that one!

The need for more information in your case is that we do not yet grasp what is causing your water problem but several of the possibilities are probably solvable and some may even not be all that expensive.
 
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We have a similar situation with a sump pump that drains into the yards, clay soil, and a storm drain that is often covered with debris and I have been thinking of options for dealing with the run off. The images are helpful in seeing how our lot compares with yours. This posts offer food for thought, that's all. Thanks.
 
Posts: 12
Location: Gulgong, NSW, Australia
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Hi Chad,
We live in an area where there is huge amounts of clay. There is non to little absorption. We collect rain water to use in the house. We installed a reed bed that collects sump water. The water that comes out the discharge end is so good, the native animals drink it. Our reed bed is 20 feet X 20 feet X 6 feet deep. There is a baffle up the centre, effectively giving a 40 X 10 space. The out flow goes to water loving trees that are capable of using it so we have an effective micro climate.
The reed bed is built from concrete and waterproofed. The reed bed is effectively a flowerbed but the gravel can be walked on. The bed is maturing and we have earth worm ingress as well as increased bird numbers.  There are some great designs.  This is a win - win. Any water leaving your property will not be contributing to the lake’s bio load. We are about 750 yards from a waterway so we have an environmental obligation.
If you want a start point, Lismore Council here in Australia has a great resource manual. https://www.lismore.nsw.gov.au/file.asp?g=RES-TWZ-55-40-21
Good luck with it all. Looking forward to your updates.
Cheers
Paul
 
Posts: 25
Location: Gardner, MA
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The water table may be the biggest offender, but it may also be that at least part of the cause of the flooding is based on water coming off your roof, and possibly downhill from your yard, driveway or the next lot over if the not lower neighbor is higher than you.  You did mention gutters, but are they clean, including the downspouts?  You might have leaves clogging up the downspouts to whatever degree.

I might have missed someone asking this, but what is the grading like around the house?  Grading can help out, even if the water table is high.  I saw you mentioned the one neighbor's lot is lower, but what about the other side?  (Don, I think, is likely thinking along those lines given one of his queries.)

We bought a 1935 home last year, and we knew right away we'd need to regrade around the house due to some concrete slabs along that had shifted towards the house (as for the side stairs), the asphalt for the drive running flat right up to our foundation, and on the west side, gaining a foot of soil level compared to the east due to trees trunks less than 5' from the house, with no slope away from the house in any of the soil on all four sides.  Just from what little I managed to get done last year, we noticed a difference in the amount of water in our cellar, lessening the work needed by our sump.  Gratis, we don't have gutters on the back of the house yet.  House did come with a long gutter on the front porch, which is where we put the first rain barrel we bought last year.

I don't know how old your home is, but it is possible there may be a dry cistern or two on the property.  You might not know where they are because sediment could have built up over time so you can't even see the lids anymore.  If you can get either the town or county plans (if you haven't already) for your property, there may be documentation that shows where they are.  I only think of this because one property we had looked at was on a street where a creek was diverted underground back in the early 1900s when they started dividing up the lots and put in the street.  The basement there was very wet.  I went to our City Hall and talked to folks at the planning department, and they pulled up the documents and showed us where all the plumbing outside the house was, including two cisterns, which were off the two back corners of the house.  If you have them, they might be connected to the storm drain system.  They also might be full of sediment to whatever degree.  Something else to think about, depending on the age of the home.

If you have a narrow lot, you might want to think about putting in a long swale as well, especially if your home is downhill of a neighbor on the other side.  That's something I'll be working on as soon as the ground warms up a bit more on our west side.  There's a lovely but too close, stone wall on our neighbor's property, so the water rolls right off, and only has 5' to travel to reach our foundation.  (Again, no grade away from the house.  I barely had started on that because our cellar window sills were rotting as they were partly below the soil level and hadn't been painted in who knows how long.)

Lastly, about the driveway, which Don also asked about.  One home we looked at, the driveway from street level went steeply down into the garage, which had a slightly elevated pad.  When we went into the finished basement, you could see the water line and how it was highest near the door that entered into the garage.  So the slope of your driveway might be at issue, even if not as extreme as the example I mention.
 
Don Goddard
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With all this discussion about the slope of the ground surrounding the house, I thought it might be worthwhile to post a couple of pictures of a useful home made land level and inclinometer that can be used for measuring slopes or determining level contour lines such as in swale building.  The tool was built when i built swales for rain runoff control on the slope above my garden. and for non-eroding runoff diversion to my pond.

The first image shows the inclinometer/level sitting in a field where I was using it.  The careful observer will note that there are two cleats attached to the main beam, the cleat is the more convenient to use  for mounting the carpenters spirit level, when laying out contour lines because the level is manouvered while being carried at the middle when a pre determined inclination has been chosen, the cleat at the adjustable end is used to mount the carpenter's level when the inclinometer is being used to measure the existing slope of the land because adjustment must be made to the height of the end to determine what slope the land has.  and also that position of the attached spirit level is used when trying to follow a contour of a specific grade,  e.g. to determine what direction to go to follow a line with a given slope such as 1/4 inch per foot (approximately 21mm/m) which is a good slope to achieve gemtle flow while avoiding erosion on a grass covered slope, commonly the slope used for sewage pipes.

The seccond image shows the details of the adjustable end, and the height of the end supports allows the inclinometer/level to avoid interference of minor irregularities while trying to measure the overall angle of a larger slope.
Please note the necessity of paint or other finish to avoid warpage of the tool that would render it inaccurate.   Originally built to establish level contour lines for water retention swales, it was modified to this adjustable form for measuring existing slopes and laying out gentle drainage routes.  Obviously the tool might require greater range of adjustment on land such has been illustrated in this discussion.   It is a useful tool made from a carpenters spirit level and a few bits of lumber (which were selected for their straightness and painted to protect their straightness. (It helps to have a level work surface when building this tool.)  The example shown is built from 8' long lumber.   Some of you may have seen this tool in my post on  permies.com about how I built my swales without heavy equipment but a rather small tractor.
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Chad Pilieri
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Wow! You guys are amazing! Sorry, I haven't responded I was away for a few days.

I have a nervous nature and these posts haven't helped, lol.

My house is downhill and my garage and driveway is downhill as well. My garage is connected to my basement and my forced air is in my garage. In the garage was a cut out hole that had water a few feet down with an old sump pump. I covered it and put a new one in, really good one. It has weeks when it doesn't pump much or at all but if it rains or especially snows the lake level rises and it pumps a lot. I was very concerned with the downhill driveway into the garage and had a French drain put in but not much water comes down that way to my pleasant surprise.

There is no evidence of flooding(except during Sandy and that affected everyone) and since I've been here no flooding at all even with heavy rains. I originally sent this post on what to best do with the water coming into my yard from the pump release point. It seems Chirea has a similar situation, I wonder if you live near me.

Don you asked great questions but I cannot answer most of them. I could send you my address in private.

I hope my house is flood safe and has been here since 1958 and done okay. I am planning on digging a small pathway with some rocks and lining and running it to the storm drain with some shade/water loving plants along side of it.

Again, thanks for all the amazing feedback. I plan on posting much more and would after getting more info on the lake and doing a full boat tour I will definitely be looking for advice on how to limit weeds without herbicides (I mentioned earlier in the thread)

Chad





 
Don Goddard
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Chad,
Some of us are still not getting a clear picture of your situation, or at least not clear enough yet to grasp the details, and in problems like you are having the Devil is in the details.   Sometimes in problem houses, knowing the details is the key to a cheap and effective solution.   The house I bought was like that.   The building code is a great guide but sometimes when the contractor cut corners or was not the sharpest knife in the drawer and the code inspector is not either, some real pain in the posterior situations are created that require a bit of finesse to fix without spending a bundle.   I had several of those on the house we bought and brought up to code and fixed issues on.

However a clear and accurate understanding of the situation is critical and we still don't have that.  

Chad Wrote
>>> My house is downhill and my garage and driveway is downhill as well.<<<
When you say something is "down hill", it has to be down hill from something and we still do not grasp your situation.   So if you say your "driveway is downhill" we do not know if when you drive out of the garage do you go down hill or do  you mean when you drive out of your garage, do you go down hill.

Chad Wrpte
>>> In the garage was a cut out hole that had water a few feet down with an old sump pump. I covered it and put a new one in <<<
When you say "In the garage was a cut out hole" do you mean that:
A.-- When they built that part of the house that they left an open hole when they poured the concrete floor,
Or do you mean that:
B.-- After  the houuse was already completeted that someone went into the garage and somehow actually cut a hole through the floor into the earth beneath and put a pump in the hole to remove the water that accumulated there.   If such a system had resulted by A.  or by B. and is not working well, the work to fix A versus B may be radically different.
And when you say that you covered the existing hole, did you
C.-- shovel it almost full and then pour concrete to close it
or
D.-- cut a plywood lid to place over it and the hole is still there underneath the lid.
Because C. vs D. one of those situations might severely affect how much and what kind of work is required to make it work better might be a lot or a little.

For example, if the situation is described by A and D  and when originally constructed the house had a full installed footer drain all around the foundation, just reopening the old system and correcting the footer drain might be the best remedy.
,
As I said that, for this sort of problem sometimes the devil is in the details.    The code was primarily made for how the building should be built in the first place,  If it was not done to code in the first place sometimes the fix is not described in the code anywhere and tearing out enough stuff and replacing that with what the code would have originally required is way to expensive, but,  there is yet something that can be done which would not have been the original choice but will work as well or better than what would have been originally if code had been adhered to.    Hiding somewhere in the code is an interesting little clause, that says that anything designed by a licensed professional engineer, drawn up and bearing the seal and signature of that engineer is automatically per code.  (I have done that kind of design and construction to fix some real botches that occurred even when there was active code enforcement when the monstrosity was originally built).

It would really help if we had a really clear understanding of your situation, best would be if we could take a look at what you are dealing with but at this distance it is a little out of the question,   From what you have described so far, I suspect that what you have is probably readily fixable, but maybe needs a bit of finesse with a somewhat non-customary detail or two.   The way we fixed some of the shortcomings of the house we bought had the contractor quite intreagued.  He was a really sharp guy who with his crew did really good work, and was very intrigued with some of the solutions I had devised, particularly when he realized that some of them were things he could use on other jobs, and he even picked my brain for some real oddball jobs he had taken on.  Like how he could reinforce some trusses with a "flying buttress"  or how to make the existing joists stronger after cutting them to reroute a sewer line through them, or how to add  and enclosed porch where no foundation could be added at a reasonable cost. and still make it struxturally sound and come in under budget.  I learned a lot from him too, maybe/probably more than I gave.  It is really fun to work with good people.
 
Chad Pilieri
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For the water, I think it is B and my solution was D to cover it with a strong lid and a sump pump. I really don't know how it was originally put there. They don't share that info when trying to sell you a house. Knock on wood, I have had no issues with water in the house.

As far as all the other details, it seems you might be able to find more info than me . It seems my limited descriptions would only lead to more questions.

My email is gamera118@gmail.com, I could give you my address. Thanks four your time and effort.
 
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