That didn’t go as planned…

Yesterday was very mild all day. The forecast said rain and the clouds agreed but it never actually rained until about 3 this morning, when it rained real good and now I’m dealing with mud again. Anyway…

Yesterday morning I had breakfast with S&L, and I took that opportunity…

…to do something I’ve been putting off all winter. I borrowed S’s jackhammer again.

Ever since last September I’ve been dealing with wet concrete on the south-ish side of Ian’s slab. It’s not caused by any problem in the water system, and given that last summer’s long soaky Monsoon popped a number of new springs here and there I am forced to conclude that that’s what’s going on here. It might go away by itself in the fullness of time, but Uncle Murphy says that’s not the way to bet. In the meantime…

It’s causing difficulty. So I asked Ian for permission to hammer a small hole in his floor in an out-of-the-way spot behind the bathroom door…

… to test the feasibility of installing a sump pump. Yesterday, after much procrastination, was the day.

I know I can install the sump without much difficulty but I had real misgivings about how hard it would be to make a big enough hole in the slab all the way down to dirt. I couldn’t remember how much reinforcement the slab had but I knew there was some. And we all know how much fun Murphy likes to have with that sort of thing.

But in the end…

…it was no trouble at all. I had a fist-size hole down to dirt in less than half an hour. Turns out jackhammers are a lot easier to work with when gravity is being your friend.

Now: The outcome of all this that I was hoping for was that the hole would fill with water overnight, or at least get good and wet. That would indicate a condition that a sump pump could actually help with.


…that’s not what happened. The sand under the slab is damp, certainly, but it was damp yesterday. It’s no wetter now than it was then.

I’m going to check it every morning for a week, and if the situation doesn’t change I’m going to have to conclude that the answer is No. And then I’ll fill the hole with cement and live with a wet slab, because a sump pump is the only possible solution to the problem I’ve been able to come up with.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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9 Responses to That didn’t go as planned…

  1. Mike says:

    I suspect that when Ian built, he never thought to install an exterior weeping tile system (AKA drainage tiles or drain tiles) along the outside of your foundation wall, slightly lower than the slab. Without the weeping tiles, a sump would be almost useless. So unless Ian is ready to excavate and install weeping tiles around the exterior of the slab base, he will be stuck with the damp and wet.

  2. Ben says:

    Having gone to the trouble of digging it, don’t be too quick to seal it off. I would keep it through at least one rainy season as a valuable diagnostic point.

  3. Judy says:

    What Ben said, plus I would cover the hole with a plate or maybe stuff some 1/4″ wire in the hole so I didn’t accidentally stick my toe in the hole and trip. Since I am clumsy like that.

  4. Malatrope says:

    Maybe I can’t see it, but it sure doesn’t look like any waterproofing sheet plastic was put under the concrete before it was poured. That would have prevented this problem.

    That’s standard practice anywhere I’ve ever lived. And not the cheap 3 mil stuff either, nor 6 mil “visqueen”. There is a thicker sheet they make that is closer to what waterbeds are made of that doesn’t puncture when walked on over gravel.

  5. boynsea says:

    Are there any water pipes in that wall?

  6. boynsea says:

    Reason I asked is because the watermarks are quite a way up the wall. Must be a lot of water. Coming up through that crack in the concrete?
    Sump pump it is. Dig a bit deeper, hope you don’t find an artesian spring!

  7. Terrapod says:

    Is that a tipped over tractor in the first image? Is it recoverable and did it run before? I am looking for a good deal on one. granted you are about 1700 miles away but where there is a deal, there is a way.

  8. Joel says:

    Yes, yes and yes. $500 OBO. Only stipulation is that you have to take the whole thing. I had one guy who just wanted to strip the accessories off it and I sent him packing. Most of the tractor is actually in fine shape for its age, or was before it got undermined and flooded. But the injector pump is toast.

To the stake with the heretic!