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  1. #1
    Rob Paulsen's Avatar
    Rob Paulsen Guest

    Default Water in crawl space. Hiring Home Inspector for advice?

    Hi all,
    I have an issue with my Los Angeles home in that water fills the crawl space (raised foundation) after heavy rain, say maybe 4-5 inches deep. It's coming up from below as I've temporarily covered all crawlspace openings during rain and it doesn't help. There are no obvious cracks in the foundation wall.

    I'm looking to fix this, but I'm wary of going straight to the foundation repair companies as I dislike the inherent conflict of interest in having them both inspect and fix the problem, so I'm thinking of hiring a home inspector first.

    Is it in the purview of Home Inspectors to diagnose my sort of problem and provide advice on how to fix it?

    Also, if there are any inspectors in the LA area who read this and feel like taking it on, please get in touch!


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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Default Re: Water in crawl space. Hiring Home Inspector for advice?

    It rains in LA?

    Yes, a good home inspector should be able to help you ascertain what the problem is and recommend a fix. A waterproofing company may have to do the actual job. 4 to 5 inches of water is pretty serious.

    Beware of having a waterproofing company come out to evaluate and provide an estimate. The biggest companies around here (Chicago) are Perma-seal and US Waterproofing and while they can do very good work, they usually go for an overkill and charge you as much as possible, so I think you should start with an honest and reputable home inspector to give his opinion first.

    Are your neighbors suffering from similar problems? Do you live in a bowl where the outside grading tips towards your house? Do you have gutters and downspouts with extensions?

    Always start with any obvious exterior issues which is usually how the rain water on your roof drains away from your foundation. There are a lot of things to consider and good luck, but I would get yourself home inspector to start with.

    Mike Lamb
    Inspection Connection, Inc.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Southern Vancouver Island

    Default Re: Water in crawl space. Hiring Home Inspector for advice?

    I have read somewhere that 90% of the water you find under a house came off the roof.
    Maybe the math is off there, but this is essentially true - Stop the flow of rainwater into the ground around your house.
    If the downspouts go underground, find out where they drain to. If they drain into you foundation perimeter drain system, it is time to lay new drain pipes. Solid 4" drain pipes can be laid just below the surface to carry runoff from your downspouts away from the house. Then you can get your old foundation drains flushed.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455

  4. #4
    Rob Paulsen's Avatar
    Rob Paulsen Guest

    Default Re: Water in crawl space. Hiring Home Inspector for advice?

    Thanks Mike!
    Yes, the perception that it never rains in LA means a lot of homes here are without adequate drainage for those occasions when the heavens open, like they did a couple of months ago.

    I say 4-5 inches, but the crawl space floor is not very level, so it's less in some places. But I agree, it's a significant amount of water.

    Yes, the landscape is somewhat bowl shaped- rear of garden at back has a steep grade which levels out 10' from house. Neighbor on one side is about 3' higher than us- they have no problem. Efflorescence is visible on the tiles of the 3' high concrete wall that separates us.

    Overkill by a waterproofing company is precisely what I am wary of.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    North Central Texas

    Default Re: Water in crawl space. Hiring Home Inspector for advice?


    The first thing to do is call a landscape architect or drainage specialist to improve the lot drainage. This may also entail the addition of or the alteration of existing gutters.


    Once the drainage is working properly and the crawl space is completely dry, send some small laborers under there to level out the soil. When this is completed call a competent home inspector to further assess the situation. He may suggest a vapor retarder and/or humidistat-controlled ventilation fans, etc.

    Texas Inspector
    What the plainspoken man lacks in subtlety, he makes up in clarity.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN

    Default Re: Water in crawl space. Hiring Home Inspector for advice?

    I don't think that you need a home inspector for this. If you know that the water is not flowing in but seeping up into the crawlspace then you have an issue that is most likely not from your home but from the area around your home.

    I would be looking for a person that specializes in drainage related problems and that it not going to be your typical home inspector. in my area we have geologist who do this in combination with some engineering firms and foundation repair contractors. Even though they might do the repairs as well as the diagnosis they might be your best bet.

    Water produces a great deal of pressure when it is draining through the various levels of earth(strata). Hydraulic pressure can push water up into crawlspaces fairly easy since the ground in the crawl is softer and open allowing the water to be pushed up without much force. If you have a stream or drainage ditch that is no too far from your home this could be a good source for the water, even if it does not flood to your home.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Serving SC & NC

    Default Re: Water in crawl space. Hiring Home Inspector for advice?

    After you address grading and gutters, as others have mentioned, one of the most effective ways to handle water intrusion is with a French drain, preferably outside the foundation wall which you've identified as the source of water entry. French drains can be installed inside the crawl space too, but that is much more labor intensive. Often French drains inside the crawl terminate to a sump pump. Another easy fix is a low-point drain (hole) in the foundation wall. Fill the opening with stone inside some type of knitted fabric (panty hose type material) to prevent sediment from clogging the drain and to keep rodents out.

    There is no rule prohibiting water entry inside the crawl space, but it's undesirable and my rule of thumb is that there should be no standing water after 24 hours.

    Joe Funderburk, CBO, CMI
    Alpha & Omega Home Inspections, LLC
    Serving SC & NC

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011

    Default Re: Water in crawl space. Hiring Home Inspector for advice?

    I would agree that you need to look at water management on your property. Also make sure your not getting water from your neighbors. They should be responsible for disposing of the water from their lot. You might be looking at a french drain system. I've seen them placed in side and outside the foundation walls. A sump pump is also something that you might be in need of. What ever way the solution turns out I would also look at installing plastic under the house and sealing it 100%. Then insulate the foundation walls and rim joists. This would also qualify as and Energy Efficient upgrade and you could be eligible for a rebate from Energy Upgrade California. I would contact one of the participating contractors and ask.

    Nevada IOS#1730
    Nevada Energy Auditor #30

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Washington State

    Default Re: Water in crawl space. Hiring Home Inspector for advice?

    When checking perimeter grading make sure soil slopes down and away from home. Many times the perimeter soil is lower than lawn but appears to be raised above it due to several inches of bark, mulch, or landscape rock.

    Make sure gutters have downspouts that extend out and away from home. If you have below ground drains check to see if they are clogged, verify that they are directing water away from home.

    Check to see if you have crawlspace vents that are at or below grade. Install vent wells if needed. Make sure soil in vent wells is below vent openings.

    Check foundation for cracks or voids that may allow water to enter. Check exterior perimeter and perimeter foundation walls in crawlspace.

    If you have an exterior crawlspace access make sure water is not entering around it or over it.

    Monitor your crawlspace, does it dry out completely, does it always have a little water in it, during times of heavy rain go in the crawlspace to see if you can find where water is entering.

    Check crawlspace were main sewer is routed. Typicaly it's routed below below foundation footing or through a sleeve. This is a common area for water to enter, many times soil is not backfilled properly, or an erroision path develops around pipe. If you have an exterior clean out riser (for main sewer line) check to see if soil is low or soft near it.

    Make sure crawlspace has a vapor barrier covering all soil (6 mil black plastic is recommended). If it has one do you find standing water above it or below it.

    Make sure your water heater's TPR valve drain line does not terminate and drain into crawlspace.

    Make sure the AC condensation drain does not terminate and drain into crawlspace.

    And just to be sure turn on all the plumbing fixtures and enter the crawlspace. Check for leaks.


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