Wet Basement


I flew home for Christmas, as usual, and was gone about a week.  Before I left, I turned off the breaker for the hot water heater, to save a little electricity while I was gone.

I returned late this afternoon, and went down to turn that breaker back on.  Then, for some reason, I thought I’d go visually check the hot water heater and the plumbing nearby.  This is all contained in a closet accessed from the back room of the basement.  As I walked through that room in my socks… all of a sudden my feet felt wet.  Oh no.

I opened the closet door, and I could see water on the bare concrete floor there.  The back room has carpet glued down to the concrete.  At first I thought the hot water heater must have leaked, but it’s practically brand new, and seemed unlikely.  I got a flashlight and carefully checked the exposed plumbing… but didn’t see any drips or any signs of water up there.  As I walked around the rest of the room, I could feel the water almost everywhere I walked.  Yikes.  I opened the door to the other closet, which is in the northwest corner, and I could see the water standing above the carpet.

Since the hot water heater or plumbing didn’t seem to be the culprit, it must be coming from outside.  It had been pouring rain since I had arrived at the airport.  (Later while checking the news I learned that we had about two inches of rain that day, which is extraordinary for Portland, and it had been raining hard all week.)  So I headed outside with my raincoat and a flashlight.

There is a downspout near the northwest corner.  The concrete splashblock has been sinking towards the house when it should be taking water away from the house.  I tried to prop it up with a brick, but that wasn’t enough.  As I looked up at the gutters, I could see a steady stream of water coming down from the corner, and landing in a puddle down below.  Well, obviously this is a big part of the problem.

Of course I had lots of boxes stored in that back room, right on the floor.  And of course they contained things like childhood drawings and stuffed animals, financial documents… you know, all sorts of items that you’d really like to get wet.  So I began dragging boxes out to the main part of the basement, and then emptying the ones that had been on the floor.  All of those boxes were wet on the bottom, but fortunately, everything inside seemed to be ok after I let it all dry out.

The flooding seemed to be getting worse, and a few paper towels obviously wasn’t going to help.

At the southwest corner, the base molding had warped out away from the wall, and I could see the water marks going up the corner.

I then got to work with my shop vac, trying to suck up the water in the carpet.  I filled up the six-gallon shop vac a couple times before giving up for the night.