My childhood home only had a crawl space, so my experience with basements was limited and I was excited to see the space potential that our new house had with its unfinished basement.
Well we have had many mishaps with all things underground in our house and over the last two years we have mainly made sure that it was water tight. Through this we discovered a lot of things about our house!
As you can see in the pictures below, it is a great space, behind the wall with the windows is a smaller space that has the water heater, boiler, washer, dryer and sink. Oh it also had a giant oil tank that was no longer in use. Our house small room that is connected to the kitchen with its own entrance door. This room was used as the office for the original owners plumbing business. Below this office space there is a partially dug out basement room, which had the access to the sewer line.
So where do we start..I am not sure exactly when the first water crisis happened but I think it was around early spring of 2014, just a couple of months after buying the house. I went down into the basement to do some laundry and found that there were puddles of water throughout the whole space. So with mops, a shop vac and bags over our shoes we went to work cleaning it up.
With further investigation we realized that it was groundwater from all the melting snow. We realized then that underneath the dryer there was a hole for a sump pump, with no sump pump. We got one from Home Depot and rigged it up to pump the water out through on of the basement windows. Of course through the clean up we were getting so frustrated we had visions of just selling the house. “Let us give you a tour of the house, don’t worry there is nothing to see in the basement…” Yea that wouldn’t work out so well. Well thankfully we had reinforcements, my mom came and helped out with the clean up. I invested in plastic storage boxes and moved all of our stuff after drying into them, since the cardboard moving boxes had gotten soaked.
Well we thought that was bad but soon realized that groundwater clean up was a walk in the park compared to our sewer issues. We found out from our neighbor that the builder/original owner of the house had the sewer line go out 170 feet from the side of the house to the water main down the street. Oh and since the son lived next door he kindly allowed his son’s sewer line to connect to our line in our yard and together they continued to the main line.
So, when the neighbors sewer line got clogged she had it snaked. Next thing you know we the small room of the basement has several inches of black oil-like sludge…
We literally had to shovel it out with a snow shovel and a 5 gallon bucket. This was waay worse than the groundwater!! We had our line jetted and they put a camera in to see the condition of the sewer line. They confirmed that the line was made with Orangeburg, a type of tar paper they used in the 40’s when steel was not very accessible because of World War II.
They said the line could last a couple of months or a couple of years but that it would be best to get the line replaced. Well it did last for 2 years but when we got pregnant we decided that we did not want to deal with this type of issue again and we got the line replaced, which was another adventure!! We also recently got a proper sump pump installed as the makeshift one was not very reliable or efficient. After several water mishaps over the last few years I think we can say that we officially have a dry basement!
We are now working on semi-finishing the basement to be able to use it as a family space instead of just storage. More on that soon!