You are here:

Foundation Stabilization and Repair/foundation erosion, water coming in dirt floored basement


outside foundation
outside foundation  

outside foundation
outside foundation  
My house was built in 1940, it has a brick foundation and the basement is high enough to stand up in but is unfinished, has a dirt floor. We bought the house seven years ago and the basement was dry as powder. Two or three years ago water began coming in the basement 2 to 3 inches deep when it rains. The previous owner said the french drain may be stopped up and told us where it is located. However we could not find it, no trace of pipe, gravel or anything else except the end of a small pvc pipe lower down in the yard. We had a man install a french drain but he did not do it properly as we discovered after he was long gone. He stopped it at the septic tank pipe and then started it again on the other side. He placed a rock or two at each opening. He did not use gravel just a pipe in a sock. He did not extend the pipe long enough for the slope of the yard. My husband and I extended the trench using pipe enclosed in fabric and containing those foam peanuts, which we were told was as good as using gravel. Some water ran through for a while, that's when I discovered the two ends of the pipe on each side of the septic tank line.
There is no water going through the french drain and water is again flooding the basement making a muddy mess and smelling very musty. I was underneath the part of the house that used to be a porch and stepped next to the foundation and my foot sunk into a hole near a huge root. I noticed more holes and saw that the roots run under the brick foundation wall.
The soil is neither clay or sand just loam I guess you would say. I am very concerned about the foundation but my husband is 81 years old and doesn't want to be bothered with it. I had to keep nagging just to get the 1200 dollar french drain installed that didn't work. What would your answer be to my problem? Our main problem is not very much money for repairs. Could concrete be poured down all the holes and fill them? we don't have gutters and would be very hard to install as we have a gabled? roof. I placed a rain barrel beneath a V in the roof hoping this would help keep so much water from entering under the floor but this hasn't helped.
Thank you in advance for any advice you can give me. If we had to sell the house no one would buy it with this muddy floor.
Martha Childers

Hello Martha
From the description of the water intrusion problem beneath your home, I am thinking that the french drain is probably acting as a reverse leach from your yard back under your home.
You mentioned the pipe leading out to the septic system. That is not good! Regardless of the slope, there is a strong possibility that there can be back flow from the septic.
I would strongly advise removing the french drain or filling it with concrete to block it.
Your best plan would be to create a positive grade, (surface Grade), away from all sides of the foundation and insure surface water flow away from the building so there can be no saturation along the foundation walls.
French drains can often times cause much more damage than good. Often times contractors install them thinking it is a great idea, when it actually can be a serious mistake. I have worked on dozens of buildings that have sustained tremendous foundation damage as a direct result of french drain related soil saturation.
I wish you the best!
Respectfully          Ed Eckley

Foundation Stabilization and Repair

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Ed Eckley


I will be happy to answer any questions regarding foundation problems of any type. Questions pertaining to construction methods, Problematic soils, Settling & Movement, Frame torsion & racking, Preventative measures, Repair methods of all types.


Over 18 years in the industry. A.S.M.E. Certified,(American Society of Mechanical Engineering). Hydraulics Design Expert. 18 years of hands on soil manipulation. Over 500 homes repaired, and over 20 commercial buildings repaired. Extensive soil knowledge. Familiar with most types of repair methods and the expected results of each.

Publications Article Title: Foundation Problems Do's & Don'ts Foundation Repair Methods

High School Graduate 1976 Trade School Graduate 1976 College Graduate 1978

Awards and Honors
Certificates of achievment: Excel Industries Letters of appreciation: City of Golden Awards & Plaques: Jacobsen Turf Division

Past/Present Clients
Available on request

©2017 All rights reserved.