What I'm Seeing Now

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Inundate A Foundation With Water, And What Do You Get?

This is shared space.  Not only do these townhouses reside side to side, but, being condos, one resident lives upstairs and others downstairs in the same townhouse. 

No matter what the building style, inundate a foundation with water, and what do you get?

I calculate these two roofs together to be about 850 square feet.

Why is that relevant?

Look to the right.  Because they both drain to the same place.

When it rains 1" of water on 850 square feet, that translates to about 530 gallons of water.

Last week we had between 6 and 8" of rain.  That's 3180 to 4240 gallons of water!

That is a lot of water to drain to one spot!

And where does the water go?  Into a well!  Beside the foundation.

The photo looks at the bottom of those two downspouts above.

Right beside the basement unit.

That little black thing on the lower left is the other end of the drain tile attached to the downspout on the left.

It has come loose from the drain the condo association is present inside this well.

What does this water affect?

A concrete block firewall extends to the left of those downspouts.  It runs to the rear of the building and frames the common storage area for all those in this row of townhouses.

We walked in to have a look at it.

Immediately we were overwhelmed by the odor of mold!

And why not?  All that water is creating what mold inspectors call a "conducive condition!"

This is one wall inside that storage room.  There are more.  Each looks like this wall below.

The mold on the drywall is obvious.  Look at the wood furniture on the lower right.  It is covered with mold.

Looking around the room, everything in there that had not been touched in a while, and is organic, is similarly infested.

The association says the front water is drained away.

I think the intention is definitely TO drain it away.

But is it?

I only stayed a couple of minutes in that room, which is quite large.  It is probably 22' x 35', and divided off sectionally.

There is no ventilation.

The air is stale and humid.

The walls are wet.

The microbial growth is happy!

My recommendation:   as water is THE killer of houses, inside and out, draining it must be handled in a way that is surely known, evidently working, and without effect.  HOUSES DON'T MAKE VERY EFFECTIVE BOATS!

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 24 commentsJay Markanich • September 15 2011 06:15AM

Comments

Jay - amazing how the slightest diversion of water creates such an unintended consqeuence. Water can find it's way though/around just about anything -

Posted by Carol Zingone, Global Realtor in Jax Beach, FL - ABR, CRS, CIPS (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Network Realty) about 9 years ago

Jay: What is the best way to drain that water away? If that drain does not work, how would you reroute the water?

Posted by Anne M. Costello (Weidel Realtors) about 9 years ago

And it will, Carol, given enough pressure.  And the amount of this water in such a small space can't help!

Anne - we were told there are buried drain lines.  I don't know if they are working.  And the one downspout certainly drops the water into that well.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

You know who these people need to call, yep... Billy Jays... for his latest water drainage solution products.

How about this solution, drop someone down that well, then duct tape some tubing to the end of the leader, run the tubing back up the well and voila! The water has been diverted properly! Then I might consider covering that well with a blue tarp....

Although it might be better to use rubber tubing and baling wire in this instance.

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) about 9 years ago

Good morning Jay;  Another great lesson.  Information is power, you sir are a powerhouse.

Posted by Kenneth Cole, NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson (Weichert Realtors Appleseed Group, 2043 Richmond Ave. S.I.N.Y. 10314. office phone 718-698-9797, Appleseedhomes.com -) about 9 years ago

The blue tarp is a good idea Andrea!  On top of the roofs, draining the water to, well, to another neighbor?

Billy is considering a new raft though...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Thank you Ken.  This stuff is obvious though!  I saw it as I was walking to the house and before I even set down my tool bag!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Hi Jay,

I guess the drain lines installed are not working properly.

Maybe it's time to add a sump pump to help the "Big ol yard" out. LOL

Other options include a lot of work and money to correct the situation.

Have a great day my friend.

Best. Clin McKie

 

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) about 9 years ago

My clients asked about a sump pump Clint.  There are two more townhouses to the left of this one, with about 50' of sidewalk and gardens in front.  I don't know where/how it could drain.

These houses are 19 years old and I expect that original drainage ideas have since stopped working.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

 

Jay, thank you so much for sharing this valuable information; my motto is to learn something everyday and I did by reading your posting! Have an awesome day in real estate!

 

Posted by Michael L. Brownstead, ABR, GRI, MRP, SRS, 1SG US Army (Ret.) (Keller Williams Realty) about 9 years ago

We've been getting a lot of calls about floods and molds.  So much water everywhere.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) about 9 years ago

That's a great motto Michael!  It sounds like Michelangelo, who, at 87, said, "I am still learning."  He had a great resume!

Debbie - it has to be diverted.  When you get flooded it's a bit late!  But, in a way, good for you!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Rain does great things for gardens....not sooo much when there is tooo much for foundations !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) about 9 years ago

Agreed S&D.  Our gardens finally got some water recently!  They are dry again!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Jay - Many times it seems the people engineering such programs either do not do the math correctly, or they design for "normal" not "excessive" rainfall.  Since these are condominiums, and the drain lines, which apparently are not working, are in the common area - shouldn't the association be hiring someone to verify where the breakdown in the drainage system is?

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) about 9 years ago

The buyers went the route of finding out Steven, and when told the HOA wouldn't do much about it now, they walked away from the contract!  I just heard this afternoon.  They set up another inspection!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Jay,

It amazes me how often these systems are just glossed over with no real effort to do proper design for all the water in a complex like that.

Heck, here I do not think they know what a foundation drain is ; )

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Jay, the funny thing is the solution was really so easy... just give the water a place to go, and it will...

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) about 9 years ago

Don - and out there you would think water diversion would be a big deal!  This system was obviously planned from the start, but it ain't working!

Chris - fluid dynamics!  Works every time!  And water is one of the most dynamic fluids out there!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

I think Andrea has the right solution.

It must've reeked of mold in the house above the basement? All that moisture, etc. is going to diffuse right on through the house. Not good.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 9 years ago

This unit was on the second floor and to the side of this space Jim.  We didn't smell anything.  But I bet the basement unit does!  And the units right above this space.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

This is a huge problem especiallly since it is a condo.  Getting it fixed will be more than just a negotiation with the seller.   Yikes.  I think that's one home the buyer should run, not walk away from.  Hope they did not have their heart set on it.

Posted by Coral Gundlach, Real Lives. Not Just Real Estate. (Compass) about 9 years ago

I have to take exemption to that last statement. Houses most certainly do float, just not in water!:)

Nice article Jay. The point is clear.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) about 9 years ago

Coral - they contacted the HOA who said they would have someone wash the mold off with Clorox.  But those walls weren't the problem!  And everything in that room was infested.  It stunk!  Yes, they have a daughter with mold allergies and were turned off.  We have another scheduled this week.

Robert - point taken!  Not to mention one of Charlie Buell's famous house boats!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

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