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# I am not an engineer. I have a question. Refer me if correct.

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## I am not an engineer. I have a question. Refer me if correct.

(OP)
I have a small ranch sited downhill of the road. The house across the street uphill has a sewer easement West to East that enters 10 foot above the house, runs along side the North basement wall (about 5 foot out) then drops 15 foot to the sewer main on the East boundry.
I am a widow, my husband and I built a walk out basement house which I remember did not have any humidity problems--was all sandy soil and the house itself had a 2 foot overhang over the basement walls.
This house I bought unseen by viewed by inspector has very high humidity in basement. I have been here 9 months, thru the winter and spring. The humidity never lowers. It is always 70 by an inexpensive hygrometer.
Therefore I am cold most of the time. Even now.
There are additional problems that complicate the high humidity. The slope away is not good. The gutters are gone. The house site was marginal so the builder added large rock to the soil cover which did not settle at all. This large rock cover is just under a skim of soil so two close trees on the drop off edge have roots just under the grass. Not only that but the soil backfill against the house had shrunk after the sidewalks were laid and the sidewalks tipped to the house. Possibly the roots forced the sidewalks up and over as they had no where else to go except over the rock fill.
I inherited all this unknowingly.
Irregardless, my question is in reference to an engineering problem concerning underground water flow. The sewer easement I mentioned is close and has a downhill drop the entire length. It comes across the street from the neighbors house. This street climbs uphill. Water and snow melt comes down. As water flow channels change, currently water is washing out a side of the road downhill now. I suppose the water dept will take care of that indue time but that is not my problem. I want to know if the neighbor's sewer line, buried of course, could be intercepting downhill flowing water underground as it sits at right angles to the downhill flow, and itself being canted to the West, being a funnel by which water is redirected to flowing along side the sewer line and finding a path of less resistance to come to my basement wall?
My reasoning for this is that water flows downhill.
Yes, I am taking in consideration the canted sidewalks, the lack of guttering, the neglible slope of my lawn.
Maybe all basements have such high humidity but I dont think so. My light bill is tremendously high and a dehumidifier would run it up much. It is not within my ability to replace the sidewalks. I actually sweep out the pooled water from a canted sidewalk that hold the water.
So my question is this:
Does underground water find and flow alongside a sewer line downhill? The line mentioned above would cross this flow at right angles itself canted downhill so could possibly intercept the flow and redirect it to my basement? I have worked hard to give the house foundation more soil as to not allow the water to stand next to it. But there are no gutters. And under the skim of soil is rock. Which would also retard the flow of water from sinking in, I think.

Feel free to correct me and redirect me to a consumer blog. Accept my apologies for imposing.

### RE: I am not an engineer. I have a question. Refer me if correct.

#### Quote:

This house I bought unseen by viewed by inspector has very high humidity in basement
- the inspector should have documented the high humidity.

#### Quote:

The slope away is not good. The gutters are gone.
- you need to repair the slopes and gutters

#### Quote:

the sidewalks tipped to the house
- you need to repair the sidewalks also

#### Quote:

I inherited all this unknowingly
- what exactly was your inspector paid to do?

#### Quote:

currently water is washing out a side of the road downhill now. I suppose the water dept will take care of that indue time but that is not my problem
- yes, it is causing you problems but the water department will not repair this, probably the road department

#### Quote:

I want to know if the neighbor's sewer line, buried of course, could be intercepting downhill flowing water
- maybe, but you said it was hilly and rocky, that does not promote significant groundwater flow.

#### Quote:

being a funnel by which water is redirected to flowing along side the sewer line and finding a path of less resistance to come to my basement wall?
- possible, more likely the sewer line is leaking

#### Quote:

So my question is this:
Does underground water find and flow alongside a sewer line downhill?
it might, depends on how they backfilled the trench

#### Quote:

The line mentioned above would cross this flow at right angles
- you really do not know which direction groundwater flows, not always the same as surface water

#### Quote:

But there are no gutters
- you really do need gutters

#### Quote:

And under the skim of soil is rock. Which would also retard the flow of water from sinking in, I think.
- maybe, or it might direct it towards your house

### RE: I am not an engineer. I have a question. Refer me if correct.

In answer to the sewer trench possibly feeding water toward the house, Yes. The pipes are usually laid on a porous single-sized pebble stone bedding. Once in that bedding water can go a long distance.

At the tipped sidewalks, more likely there was a settling of the fill next to the building and not a root expansion thing.

While I could advise a qualified landscaper as to how to waterproof the ground, tney more likely can change the site grades so as to divert surface water away. Unfortunately once water enters the ground it takes a direction following any filling layers, which usually dip towrds the house. That means any place where there was an excavation for the house construction and then filed.

Downspouts should be fitted with long discharge pipes or black plastic hoses. You should try to divert that water at least 10 feet from the house. The backill to the excavation for the house quite likey extends out 8 feet at the minimum and you should go beyond that with that roof water. To keep the wind from moving them, I drill holes at the ends and shove a heavy wire stake in to hole them during windy conditions. Don't doas I did for my house today. I removed them so I could mow and then forgot. Along comes a one inch rainfall in a half hour.

I'd be rather careful about hiring just anybody to fix your problems. I'd want to see jobs they have done that may be similar and see the results. These are common problems and only a well experienced landscaper or earth working contractor should be used.

### RE: I am not an engineer. I have a question. Refer me if correct.

OG once more. As you can see I assuumed some roof gutters would be in the plan. However, if you do not have free water in the basement (due to some curable outside work) and you only have high humidity, the treatments I considered needed on the surface may not help significantly. Most problems I come up with are preventing free water from seeping in.

Does the high humidity affect the upstairs living area or is this basement part of a living area?

### RE: I am not an engineer. I have a question. Refer me if correct.

(OP)
Well, I agree that the gutters may be a problem but the house is 65 years old and I have been here for only 9 months. I have no idea if gutters were used before me. There is an old wood/coal furnace with a built in water boiler so the man who build the house had it all planned out. Coal absorbs humidity so everything was good until they passed on and the upgrades failed to make a comfortable home.
When I pointed out several problems to the selling agent, and asked for utility records which I did not get, she pointed to the inspector.
My response was/is that the inspection is a way to offload responsibility for truth to a third party.
The house across and uphill from my house which has the sewer easement is currently vacant. I did not know this when I purchased the house. I want to be a good neighbor but this is old mining property, and has fill, lots of it. I didnt know that either. Probably everything a problem here has been grandfathered in.
As for the settlement around the house I have no idea how long that existed before I arrived. I have worked to move sod from high areas to the foundation so that there is a slope, not extensive but a slope. As for extending the gutters if there were some, the house sits in a bowl at the front. There was a small drain catchment from the hill at the yard beginning and I deepened it. There were huge ice dams on the roof so I have to find out why and there are no planks in the attic to move around. I have first to get some up there. Before that I need a ladder. Totally unprepared as house appeared to have all issues addressed as it came out of foreclosure and was purchased for $25,000 and then$50,000 to me. I naively assumed all was taken care of.
Nevertheless, I have worked hard and now have numb hands from my carpal tunnel. I have been told to lawyer up but I am old enough to know that is a pointless task.
The basement is separate but previous owners had tried to make a living area without addressing the insulation or the humidity. To give some relevance here, the gas furnace has been installed blowing into the cold returns and pulling from the warm openings. It cost me \$150 to be told that by the HVAC guy. I would like to go with radiant pex up on the basement ceiling but need 2 estimates to submit to RD home improvement loan program which I have asked for but not received.
I fully expected to wake up a winter morning without heat. Now that expectation has passed into next winter. Maybe then I will get the estimates I request.
The pic is the area at the side of the house the sewer line is running thru. It is looking up hill toward the road at the top of the pic. The pic taken standing at the drop off behind me.

### RE: I am not an engineer. I have a question. Refer me if correct.

We probably could help some with general comments on the situation, but the actual work, if required, likely needs to be done by a qualified person or contractor. It sounds like more than you can physically do.

Ice dams are due to two different temperatures of the roof surface. At the overhang, there is no heat from other than the air, thus cold in winter. The part farther up the roof is heated by heat escaping from the house interior and that melts snow. The melt water freezes again when it reaches the overhang. Old houses without good attic insulation have had this as common. At age 87 I have much experience with living in an uninsulated house in NY state when growing up. The upstairs bedrooms had pretty stained looking ceilings due to that seeping in. So, if good insulation is added in attic AND the attic is vented, there will be no ice dams, but there will be a "healthy" thickness of snow staying on the roof until warmer weather to melt it. Can the roof take that added load?

I didn't see a comment about a wet basement, if any.

Is there any sort of local group in your area to help those with few funds and yet plenty of need for help, hopefully by qualified volunteers? I'd check with local health dept, building inspectors, etc. for leads. I'd go in that direction now. Sometimes we have to swallow our pride. Having been widowed some years back, check out local widows and widowers groups and you may find leads. The guys are few and far between however.

### RE: I am not an engineer. I have a question. Refer me if correct.

OG again:

While we try to be helpful, the site here apparently is to be more directed to engineers or contractors, not home owners on their projects. It would be hoped that a contractor type that you hired may need hints on how he is to "fix" things.

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