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  1. #1

    Default New home hairline foundation leak

    I bought this home a year and 4 months ago. It was a new build. We just had a rain storm and this morning the basement had a pool of water that leaked in through a hairline crack. Our yard on the side of the house where the crack leaked is graded properly. What could be going on here? The concrete is dry above the crack which starts about 18 inches above the concrete floor. Shouldn't there be a black foundation sealant around the foundation to prevent this sort of thing?

    Let me also mention that I have had problems with this house from day one. The builder has a reputation in our neighborhood and other neighborhoods he has built in for doing poor work and cutting corners.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: New home hairline foundation leak

    Is this the first time in over a year that it rained? First time it leaked?
    I guess the first thing I would do is look at the gutters and downspouts.

    Yes, the foundation wall should have had water proofing applied during construction. Might be hard to verify now.


  3. #3

    Default Re: New home hairline foundation leak

    This is not the first time it has rained. The last time it rained like this it also leaked but I was out of town and my wife thought it looked like the rain was coming from the window frame. The builder put caulk around the windows and called it fixed. This time it is clearly from the foundation.

    There is a gutter in the corner but it has an underground pipe that releases the water about 15 feet from the house.

    I looked under the insulation on the concrete and found four more places along that wall that has moisture coming through the foundation. Two were insignificant if they dont get worse but the other two are a worry. I couldn't see the moisture because the insulation soaked it up.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: New home hairline foundation leak

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew James View Post
    This is not the first time it has rained. The last time it rained like this it also leaked but I was out of town and my wife thought it looked like the rain was coming from the window frame. The builder put caulk around the windows and called it fixed. This time it is clearly from the foundation.

    There is a gutter in the corner but it has an underground pipe that releases the water about 15 feet from the house.

    I looked under the insulation on the concrete and found four more places along that wall that has moisture coming through the foundation. Two were insignificant if they dont get worse but the other two are a worry. I couldn't see the moisture because the insulation soaked it up.
    I'm assuming that you are not on sandy soil, which drains very well, but something heavier. My guess would be that the rain is percolating down through the fill and backing up on the foundation wall because it is not draining away fast enough. Around here we install a perforated drain pipe (big-O) around the footing below the level of the slab. This should be covered with cloth and then gravel before the fill goes on top. If one of these components is missing or if the drain isn't flowing, either from poor slope or dirt blocking it, water can back up and put pressure on the basement wall. If the water level is high all around the house you might see moisture starting to come up through cracks in the floor as well.

    Hope this helps.

    homeXam.ca - Home inspections in Ottawa, Canada

  5. #5

    Default Re: New home hairline foundation leak

    The soil here is clay. Not much penetrates it. I walked around outside and is not like it was flooded. It was a little mushy in the middle of the grade where it is lowest but up the sides is not.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: New home hairline foundation leak

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew James View Post
    The soil here is clay. Not much penetrates it. I walked around outside and is not like it was flooded. It was a little mushy in the middle of the grade where it is lowest but up the sides is not.
    It's the water level below around the basement wall that will cause problems. When you dig in clay it's like digging a swiming pool and putting your house at the bottom. Water that comes in has to go somewhere. It can't get through the clay very fast, so there has to be a drain, a sump pump or something to keep the water level in the hole lower than the basement wall. It sounds like the level of the water has backed up to the height of the cracks in your wall and is draining into your basement. Perhaps your big-O is blocked with clay. Clay consists of very fine particles which can flow into drains and block them. It usually happens in older houses though.

    You need to have a contractor take a look. You are likely going to have to dig and investigate, then repair what you find. Get a good reference from friends or tradesmen that you know well. This can be expensive work and you want somebody who will do just the amount of work required.

    homeXam.ca - Home inspections in Ottawa, Canada

  7. #7
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    Default Re: New home hairline foundation leak

    Water coming through the cracks is not a particularly good thing to occur. The cracks may have formed after the damp proofing was applied. Damp proofing is not water proofing.

    A quick fix to stop the water would be to find all the shrink cracks and have them filled with an injected epoxy formulated to cure in a damp or wet environment.

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  8. #8
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    Default Re: New home hairline foundation leak

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew James View Post
    I bought this home a year and 4 months ago. It was a new build. We just had a rain storm and this morning the basement had a pool of water that leaked in through a hairline crack. Our yard on the side of the house where the crack leaked is graded properly. What could be going on here? The concrete is dry above the crack which starts about 18 inches above the concrete floor. Shouldn't there be a black foundation sealant around the foundation to prevent this sort of thing?

    Let me also mention that I have had problems with this house from day one. The builder has a reputation in our neighborhood and other neighborhoods he has built in for doing poor work and cutting corners.
    Almost every house with a poured concrete foundation will have some cracks. Regardless of whether the ground is graded properly water in the ground can find its way into a crack. Concrete expands and contracts with changes in moisture and temperature. Minor settlement can also change the width of a crack. Its not unusual for a crack to leak when it has not before. The coating on the foundation is considered damp-proofing, It will not bridge a crack. The best fix is typically urethane injection.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: New home hairline foundation leak

    Hi, ALL &

    Not sure about your area, but here in B.C. (Canada), you`d be contacting your builder and the Home Warranty company for up to 5 (five) years...

    Typical `fix`would likely be to excavate & expose that crack & then crack-seal and put a physical water-barrier over it to act as a `dam`.

    Cheers !

    -Glenn Duxbury, CHI

  10. #10

    Default Re: New home hairline foundation leak

    Last week they sent over some guys to fix the cracks. They ground out the cracks a little from the inside of my basement and then used Sikaflex with a caulk gun to put in the cracks and used Xypex on top of that.

    Well it has been raining and apparently it didn't work. I still have leaks in at least 3 of the 5 places they 'fixed'. It didn't even rain as much as it did before when I noticed the leaks in the first place.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: New home hairline foundation leak

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew James View Post
    Last week they sent over some guys to fix the cracks. They ground out the cracks a little from the inside of my basement and then used Sikaflex with a caulk gun to put in the cracks and used Xypex on top of that.

    Well it has been raining and apparently it didn't work. I still have leaks in at least 3 of the 5 places they 'fixed'. It didn't even rain as much as it did before when I noticed the leaks in the first place.
    Caulking on the inside will never work well. It's like caulking around the inside of windows to keep water out or patching a hole on the inside of a boat hull with duct tape. It may have worked if applied on the outside of the foundation. They would be better off trying the injected epoxy and if that still leaked - break out the shovels and start digging. But, their first try was cheap, quick, and easy. You may have to get a structural engineer in to prescribe the repair method. From my experience, it will be injected epoxy.

    Is the water coming through the crack in the wall or out of the joint where the slab abuts the wall? If it comes up in the joint, it would indicate a more severe water drainage problem.

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  12. #12
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    Default Re: New home hairline foundation leak

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew James View Post
    Last week they sent over some guys to fix the cracks. They ground out the cracks a little from the inside of my basement and then used Sikaflex with a caulk gun to put in the cracks and used Xypex on top of that.

    Well it has been raining and apparently it didn't work. I still have leaks in at least 3 of the 5 places they 'fixed'. It didn't even rain as much as it did before when I noticed the leaks in the first place.
    Neither product is good for crack repairs, but this is the type of thing builders usually try to solve a problem long enough to get past the warranty. Urethane injection is typically the best fix.


  13. #13

    Default Re: New home hairline foundation leak

    So the guys came back today to refix the previous fix. The installer told me he has never seen a leak in the 10 years he has been fixing leaks using this method. He wants to dig deeper into the concrete and reapply. He also tells me that he has a different product that works better called sikaswell. After I asked why he didn't use that in the first place he tells me that it is brand new and they just started using it.

    I told them I wanted them to use the injection products. They weren't prepared for that so they left.

    Any thoughts on their suggestion to dig deeper and use the sikaswell?


  14. #14

    Default Re: New home hairline foundation leak

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Brooks View Post
    Is the water coming through the crack in the wall or out of the joint where the slab abuts the wall? If it comes up in the joint, it would indicate a more severe water drainage problem.
    No it is leaking from cracks in the wall. Here are some pics after the fix and some light rain:









    Before the fix:










  15. #15
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    Default Re: New home hairline foundation leak

    From the looks of it a lot of that insulation may also need to be replaced. If it's wet or been wet.

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  16. #16

    Default Re: New home hairline foundation leak

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Brooks View Post
    From the looks of it a lot of that insulation may also need to be replaced. If it's wet or been wet.
    Is that because of mold?


  17. #17
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    Default Re: New home hairline foundation leak

    Am I the only one seeing precast panel joints and not "hairline cracks"?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  18. #18
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    Default Re: New home hairline foundation leak

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Am I the only one seeing precast panel joints and not "hairline cracks"?
    Those are where the joints in the forms were. They use plywood panels to form up the walls. At the joints the concrete always oozes into the gaps and makes those lines.

    We have basements here and I see this sort of water penetration a lot. My first recommendation and second recommendation is to improve the drainage apron (grade) around the house. Maybe it isn't sloped as well as it should be or maybe it needs to be extended further from the house. Five feet is usually adequate, but maybe yours needs to be more. But water must drain away at least five feet and then have a path to flow around and away from your house. If it goes five feet and forms a pond there, then, you can still have trouble.

    Concrete foundation are never water proof. As pointed out elsewhere, if water is pooling on the outside of your walls (not necessarily on the surface) then water will find a way in. If the drainage apron is satisfactory, then the builder may have to put in a perimeter drain system. The builder will be dragged kicking and screaming to this solution.

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: New home hairline foundation leak

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Henderson View Post
    Those are where the joints in the forms were. They use plywood panels to form up the walls. At the joints the concrete always oozes into the gaps and makes those lines.
    I'll go with what you say, but when plywood is used there is always a plywood grain pattern in the concrete, and I don't see that grain pattern in that concrete. Look more like it was cast on/between either steel forms or what we always referred to as "tables" when constructing high rises where the plywood was covered with a thick plastic-type of material kind of like real thick countertop-mica to withstand the abuse of being reused so many times as the tables were flown up from floor-to-floor.

    But, hey, what do I know about basements ... ?

    Concrete foundation are never water proof.
    Never waterproofed on the outside (to clarify) - fully agree with that.

    Another reason I suspect they are precast panels is that the walls would not crack at each plywood form location, but each joint between precast panels is susceptible to leaking if not installed in accordance with the precast foundation wall's design.

    Again, hey, what do I know basements ... (being down here where 'a basement would be an indoor pool') ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  20. #20
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    Default Re: New home hairline foundation leak

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew James View Post
    Is that because of mold?
    The wet insulation is pretty much shot. Mold only becomes an issue if the insulation stays wet enough to promote growth.

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  21. #21
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    Default Re: New home hairline foundation leak

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    I'll go with what you say, but when plywood is used there is always a plywood grain pattern in the concrete, and I don't see that grain pattern in that concrete.
    These days they are usually using a plywood form that has a slick no stick finish so you get a smoother finished wall. The surface of the panels feels like wax paper.

    As you say, back in the day with plain plywood, you not only get a grain pattern but even bits of the wood stuck in the walls.

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: New home hairline foundation leak

    I'm agreeing with Lon on this to check the grading around the home. If you have good drainage then you will usually not have a problem with water. Do you have any pics of the outside and of the downspouts and do they extend 5'-0" from the home? I would look for a drop of 5-10" at 10 feet from the home. Since this home was new, the soil could have settled around the home and you lost the drainage away from the home.

    Another thing to consider is a high water table, do you know if one exists in the neighborhood? Do you have a sump pump and pit? Any idea on the soil conditions when they dug the hole, sandy or clay?

    Last edited by Mike Kleisch; 05-27-2013 at 08:52 AM.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: New home hairline foundation leak

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Am I the only one seeing precast panel joints and not "hairline cracks"?
    Definitely not precast. A couple of the photos show leaks between the form joint lines. In one you can see the crack is angled slightly from vertical. Typical shrinkage cracks. Urethane injection (if done correctly) is typically a very good fix.


  24. #24
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    Default Re: New home hairline foundation leak

    New house, it should have a cleanout or two, access to the perimeter drain system? Have it scoped. Might cost $200. The drain system is not working properly. Water is collecting against the basement wall. A pipe camera inspection can pinpoint a plug in the drain system and tell you what's going on. A lot of that water is coming off the roof. Some of it may be groundwater if you are below a slope, or in a swamp, but for most level lots, the water is from the roof.

    You will never be able to trust the interior patches. After the drywall goes up, how will you be able to check for moisture, new cracks or failing patches?

    A permanent repair is going to involve repairs outside, getting the water away from the wall. Save those pictures and document everything.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

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