Author Topic: Tracking Hole in Basement Foundation Wall (Completely Non Pizza Related)  (Read 2039 times)

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scott123

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This isn't related to pizza, but this forum has some smart people and I'm hoping to get a quick answer so that I can resolve this before the rain comes.

I have a golf ball sized hole in my 100ish year old cement foundation wall in my basement, that, due to water coming in when it rains, I know it runs to the outside.  The channel curves and twists and, after hours of searching, I can't find where the opening is on the outside. I can track the hole about 4" in, and then it zigs and zags upward and I can't track it beyond that.  I've tried a wire hanger and a plumber's snake, but the channel is too jagged.

I tried grounding up some colored chalk and blowing it throw the hole to find the source, but that didn't work.

I think a smoke bomb might help me locate where the hole goes, but fireworks aren't legal in my state. Even if I could get my hands on a smoke bomb, I'm not sure the hole is big enough to provide enough air for combustion.

Any ideas how I might track where this hole goes?


Offline JConk007

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Re: Tracking Hole in Basement Foundation Wall (Completely Non Pizza Related)
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2012, 01:02:34 PM »
 camera end of flexible snake- wire. Think   Harbour frieght sells them ? or a plumber electrician  usually carries these nowadays
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Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Tracking Hole in Basement Foundation Wall (Completely Non Pizza Related)
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2012, 01:22:41 PM »
camera end of flexible snake- wire. Think   Harbour frieght sells them ? or a plumber electrician  usually carries these nowadays
Sounds like the snake won't follow the track of the hole. From inside look very closely where the sill plates meet the foundation. Might see some rotted/black discolored wood. If you're lucky to find that then drive a rod out through to the outside and then get your shovel out. Before lightly chiseling interior foundation I would do some excavating outside...pull back some dirt and see if you come across a hollowed out/ weak area of dirt and then find your hole.
Is the drainage good outside of that wall...with that age it ci=ould be seeping UP to your leak. Peeling back a 'lil of the interior wall will show you whether this is happening.  Good luck.

p.s. compressed air in a portable tank might help you out...
if you inspect the leak while it is raining you should be able to tell if it's coming from above or below..
And, of course a hydraulic patch is always an inexpensive bandaid if you are not planning on staying there long term..
« Last Edit: October 27, 2012, 01:43:43 PM by Chicago Bob »
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scott123

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Re: Tracking Hole in Basement Foundation Wall (Completely Non Pizza Related)
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2012, 02:20:01 PM »
John, I think that might work, but I really don't want to have to invest that much money into this.

Bob, the outside hole is definitely at or close to ground level, due to the fact that when the rain is hitting the house at a certain angle, water will trickle through the hole. I guess I could go out with a hose, spray it against the foundation, and have someone else watch for water, but I was hoping for a little more elegant solution.

I used compressed air when I was trying to push the chalk powder out.  The pebbly surface of the foundation doesn't allow for tight enough seal.  If I could get a tight seal, then I could see or hear air escaping outside.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2012, 02:39:31 PM by scott123 »

Offline Don K

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Re: Tracking Hole in Basement Foundation Wall (Completely Non Pizza Related)
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2012, 02:25:56 PM »
Capillary action can suck a lot of water through tiny cracks and fissures in the foundation wall. Sometimes these cracks can combine and converge and find other holes inside the wall.

So there may not be a single hole on the outside that's feeding the hole on the inside.
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Offline pizzaneer

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Re: Tracking Hole in Basement Foundation Wall (Completely Non Pizza Related)
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2012, 02:30:31 PM »
Shoot it full of expanding spray sealant, starting as far into it as you can. Use two cans if you have to.
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Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Tracking Hole in Basement Foundation Wall (Completely Non Pizza Related)
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2012, 02:34:18 PM »
Stop worrying right now Scotty... I will take care of this for you.  You didn't by chance hear I am in the market for a cheap, used sheeter did you?  8)
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scott123

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Re: Tracking Hole in Basement Foundation Wall (Completely Non Pizza Related)
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2012, 02:46:18 PM »
Shoot it full of expanding spray sealant, starting as far into it as you can. Use two cans if you have to.

I've thought about this. Will spray sealant, without a good seal, travel upward through a channel?

Right now, the water drains right through the hole and onto my basement floor.  If I block the lower part of the channel with seal, water could collect in the void(s) closer to ground level, which might produce a greater freeze expansion risk.

Also, would this be a permanent solution? Would expanding sealant make a good bond with concrete?

scott123

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Re: Tracking Hole in Basement Foundation Wall (Completely Non Pizza Related)
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2012, 02:52:01 PM »
So there may not be a single hole on the outside that's feeding the hole on the inside.

Yes, that could be why I'm having such a hard time finding the hole on the outside. With really intense storms, though, I have seen water flowing through the hole almost like a faucet, which I think would be hard for capillary action to achieve.

Offline pizzaneer

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Re: Tracking Hole in Basement Foundation Wall (Completely Non Pizza Related)
« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2012, 02:58:06 PM »
Sounds like you not only need to fix this hole up pronto, but figure out why water is not moving away from the foundation when it rains.  You should have a slope that goes away from the house on all sides for at least 10'.  Doesn't have to be a steep slope, as long as there is somewhere for the water to go.  

The spray sealant doesn't travel or move at all- it expands. Think of it like inflating a solid epoxy balloon.  The water pressure outside the wall jams it in place even harder when it rains.  I've heard from a friend who does underwater repair work (in hard hat gear) that he uses it for making patches while welding steel plates on.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2012, 03:02:51 PM by pizzaneer »
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scott123

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Re: Tracking Hole in Basement Foundation Wall (Completely Non Pizza Related)
« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2012, 03:24:50 PM »
Sounds like you not only need to fix this hole up pronto, but figure out why water is not moving away from the foundation when it rains.  You should have a slope that goes away from the house on all sides for at least 10'.  Doesn't have to be a steep slope, as long as there is somewhere for the water to go.  

The spray sealant doesn't travel or move at all- it expands. Think of it like inflating a solid epoxy balloon.  The water pressure outside the wall jams it in place even harder when it rains.  I've heard from a friend who does underwater repair work (in hard hat gear) that he uses it for making patches while welding steel plates on.

Yes, I do have a grading issue that will need to eventually be resolved.

I'm trying, if at all possible, not to trap water in the upper outer foundation where it might freeze.  I'd really like to block the water from the outside, which is why I'm looking for novel ideas for tracking the hole to the outside- assuming, of course, it is a single channel.


Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Tracking Hole in Basement Foundation Wall (Completely Non Pizza Related)
« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2012, 03:29:40 PM »
Yes, I do have a grading issue that will need to eventually be resolved.

I'm trying, if at all possible, not to trap water in the upper outer foundation where it might freeze.  I'd really like to block the water from the outside, which is why I'm looking for novel ideas for tracking the hole to the outside- assuming, of course, it is a single channel.


I've covered that issue....let me know if you need further expertise sir.
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scott123

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Re: Tracking Hole in Basement Foundation Wall (Completely Non Pizza Related)
« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2012, 11:05:43 PM »
The spray sealant doesn't travel or move at all- it expands. Think of it like inflating a solid epoxy balloon.  The water pressure outside the wall jams it in place even harder when it rains.  I've heard from a friend who does underwater repair work (in hard hat gear) that he uses it for making patches while welding steel plates on.

I just got back from Home Depot and all they had were two 'water-resistant' flavors of the Great Stuff sealant from Dow.

http://greatstuff.dow.com/products/window-and-door/

Will this do the job or should I be looking for something else?

Offline pizzaneer

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Re: Tracking Hole in Basement Foundation Wall (Completely Non Pizza Related)
« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2012, 11:14:21 PM »
Look for something else.  You want maximum expansion.  You gotta make a plug outside your wall that is bigger than the hole.

I'd rather eat one good meal a day than 3 squares of garbage.

scott123

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Re: Tracking Hole in Basement Foundation Wall (Completely Non Pizza Related)
« Reply #14 on: October 27, 2012, 11:19:56 PM »
Brian, do you have anything specific in mind?  Would this be better?

http://www.dap.com/product_details.aspx?BrandID=18&SubcatID=4

They say 'waterproof' in the description, but, as far as I know, this is the same technology as Great Stuff.

Offline pizzaneer

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Re: Tracking Hole in Basement Foundation Wall (Completely Non Pizza Related)
« Reply #15 on: October 27, 2012, 11:23:28 PM »
Better!

I think that's what I used. It's been a decade or so and the stuff is standing up fine.  I think the label changed, but w/e. 
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scott123

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Re: Tracking Hole in Basement Foundation Wall (Completely Non Pizza Related)
« Reply #16 on: October 27, 2012, 11:28:53 PM »
You gotta make a plug outside your wall that is bigger than the hole.

A plug out of sealant or a plug out of something else to force the sealant into the channel?

I was thinking about taking a page out of ancient Egyptian culture and making a softball size of stiff dough and using that to seal the hole around the applicator tube.

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Re: Tracking Hole in Basement Foundation Wall (Completely Non Pizza Related)
« Reply #17 on: October 28, 2012, 12:36:34 AM »
It will plug part way up and then stop itself and may prevent you from sealing more thoroughly later. Call a concrete/foundation guy and see if they have any tricks they will share. Problem is, if you plug the bottom, the water is still coming in someplace and will pool inside the wall and cause problems later. Worth at least checking with a pro before it gets REAL big!!

jon
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Re: Tracking Hole in Basement Foundation Wall (Completely Non Pizza Related)
« Reply #18 on: October 28, 2012, 08:42:03 AM »
It will plug part way up and then stop itself and may prevent you from sealing more thoroughly later. Call a concrete/foundation guy and see if they have any tricks they will share. Problem is, if you plug the bottom, the water is still coming in someplace and will pool inside the wall and cause problems later. Worth at least checking with a pro before it gets REAL big!!

jon

jon, I think you have the best answer above. Scott should get at least 2 pros to come out and give an estimate on fixing the leak. In the process of obtaining estimates there is opportunity to learn a lot.

If the job is too expensive Scott could consider doing the job himself. My guess is that the leak needs to be sealed from the outside and locating the problem probably requires removal of dirt at least a few feet down on the outer side of the foundation.

---pete---

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Re: Tracking Hole in Basement Foundation Wall (Completely Non Pizza Related)
« Reply #19 on: October 28, 2012, 11:50:40 AM »
Good luck on finding someone at T-10 hours before the %$# hits the fan.  They are at home battening down their own hatches.

Excavating and plugging and applying a new coat of asphalt would be the best case scenario- that should have been done before you bought the house.
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