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Foundation wall leak?

  • Last Updated:
  • Jan 4th, 2021 8:11 pm
[OP]
Newbie
Apr 26, 2009
90 posts
24 upvotes
Markham

Foundation wall leak?

Hi there,

Please see attached pictures for brown coloured liquid on the floor and foundation wall insulation seems wet and coloured. Please advise what this could be and how to fix it.

Thank you
Images
  • 20201230_181453.jpg
  • 20201230_181506.jpg
17 replies
Deal Fanatic
Dec 5, 2009
5677 posts
3429 upvotes
I don’t think you can conclude definitively there is a leak based on those photos alone. It looks like there is metal inside the concrete that is rusting , possibly due to humidity in the basement. Is it wet to touch? Is it getting worse ? You likely need to remove a section of the insulation to be sure what’s going on.
Deal Guru
User avatar
Mar 13, 2004
11267 posts
3017 upvotes
Toronto, Ontario
Cut open the insulation straight down and fold it back a few meters so you can see a big section of the wall. I would then clean the wall to remove any water/stains and keep an eye on it this winter and spring. Spring time when all the snow melts will be the real test if its leaking then you will need to repair it. The best and long lasting repair will be from the outside however that's also the most expensive option.

Also check outside in that area, do you have any eavestrough from the roof? If so you should extend them from away from the house so the water does not drain back to the foundation. Also check grading of dirt, it should be graded away from your house so water runs away not towards it.
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Deal Fanatic
Feb 4, 2015
6556 posts
2941 upvotes
Canada, Eh!!
sickcars wrote: Cut open the insulation straight down and fold it back a few meters so you can see a big section of the wall. I would then clean the wall to remove any water/stains and keep an eye on it this winter and spring. Spring time when all the snow melts will be the real test if its leaking then you will need to repair it. The best and long lasting repair will be from the outside however that's also the most expensive option.

Also check outside in that area, do you have any eavestrough from the roof? If so you should extend them from away from the house so the water does not drain back to the foundation. Also check grading of dirt, it should be graded away from your house so water runs away not towards it.
Very good post.

Get grading corrected asap when weather allows... that is important for long term success.
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Member
Dec 6, 2020
375 posts
354 upvotes
As sickcars says, you'll need to tear off the insulation and take a good look at the concrete to find out what's causing this.

It could be bulk water migrating through the concrete (very expensive to fix as it generally involves digging a trench around the perimeter of your house), but it could also be condensation trapped in the insulation. Fiberglass and poly vapor barrier is not a great idea on below-grade walls as the poly will trap moisture.

Take off the insulation for a few stud bays, dry the concrete thoroughly (use towels, then paper towels, then follow up with a hair drier) and monitor the situation for a few weeks. If you get moisture, or visible water, then you have a foundation problem. If the wall stays dry, you might have have an insulation problem that you might be able to fix by replacing the fibreglass with a few inches of extruded polystyrene (otherwise known as blue/pink Styrofoam). It's also possible that water could be flowing down from higher up in the walls, such as at the junction between the concrete foundation wall and the above-grade stud wall.

FWIW, it's probably worth your money to have a building envelope engineer look at this before you either try to fix this yourself or hire someone to do it for you. The foundation waterproofing industry is full of both incompetent business owners and outright scammers. Having a professional engineer give you a clear idea of what needs to be done will help you figure out how to do it yourself and/or weed out the scammers if you need to hire someone to do the work for you.
Deal Addict
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Jan 2, 2012
3684 posts
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KINGSTON,ON
What is the approximate age of your house?
[OP]
Newbie
Apr 26, 2009
90 posts
24 upvotes
Markham
fdl wrote: I don’t think you can conclude definitively there is a leak based on those photos alone. It looks like there is metal inside the concrete that is rusting , possibly due to humidity in the basement. Is it wet to touch? Is it getting worse ? You likely need to remove a section of the insulation to be sure what’s going on.
Opened up section of insulation and its dry. May need opening up top portion to check if any leaks where its level with outside. Pics attached. Thx
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[OP]
Newbie
Apr 26, 2009
90 posts
24 upvotes
Markham
sickcars wrote: Cut open the insulation straight down and fold it back a few meters so you can see a big section of the wall. I would then clean the wall to remove any water/stains and keep an eye on it this winter and spring. Spring time when all the snow melts will be the real test if its leaking then you will need to repair it. The best and long lasting repair will be from the outside however that's also the most expensive option.

Also check outside in that area, do you have any eavestrough from the roof? If so you should extend them from away from the house so the water does not drain back to the foundation. Also check grading of dirt, it should be graded away from your house so water runs away not towards it.
I'll monitor through winter/spring for any leak as it's dry now as checked. Pic attached for front side. We have interlocking done by the wall and it may need grading rework. Thanks
Images
  • 20210104_142341.jpg
[OP]
Newbie
Apr 26, 2009
90 posts
24 upvotes
Markham
middleofnowhere wrote: As sickcars says, you'll need to tear off the insulation and take a good look at the concrete to find out what's causing this.

It could be bulk water migrating through the concrete (very expensive to fix as it generally involves digging a trench around the perimeter of your house), but it could also be condensation trapped in the insulation. Fiberglass and poly vapor barrier is not a great idea on below-grade walls as the poly will trap moisture.

Take off the insulation for a few stud bays, dry the concrete thoroughly (use towels, then paper towels, then follow up with a hair drier) and monitor the situation for a few weeks. If you get moisture, or visible water, then you have a foundation problem. If the wall stays dry, you might have have an insulation problem that you might be able to fix by replacing the fibreglass with a few inches of extruded polystyrene (otherwise known as blue/pink Styrofoam). It's also possible that water could be flowing down from higher up in the walls, such as at the junction between the concrete foundation wall and the above-grade stud wall.

FWIW, it's probably worth your money to have a building envelope engineer look at this before you either try to fix this yourself or hire someone to do it for you. The foundation waterproofing industry is full of both incompetent business owners and outright scammers. Having a professional engineer give you a clear idea of what needs to be done will help you figure out how to do it yourself and/or weed out the scammers if you need to hire someone to do the work for you.
Thank you for your input
Member
May 15, 2017
202 posts
180 upvotes
It's more than likely just your warm (dense) indoor air hitting your cold foundation wall. Boom - condensation.

It wouldn't happen if you stripped back that insulation blanket. Read up on dew point.

Not really sure why people are talking about hiring building engineers. It's always good to be safe but don't over think it.
Deal Guru
User avatar
Mar 13, 2004
11267 posts
3017 upvotes
Toronto, Ontario
Only potential issues I see there could be from the gutters, if they are leaking or not sealed well. Or even the AC in the summer when it drips. Also the hose faucet could be another potential issue if it does not seal on the hose properly it could leak a little.

But yes keep an eye on it, hopefully you don't need to repair from the outside but that would be the best fix.
onlinedesh wrote: I'll monitor through winter/spring for any leak as it's dry now as checked. Pic attached for front side. We have interlocking done by the wall and it may need grading rework. Thanks
0_o
<_<
>_>
Deal Fanatic
Mar 17, 2004
5220 posts
637 upvotes
georvu wrote: Very good post.

Get grading corrected asap when weather allows... that is important for long term success.
If you can't do that right now or can't afford to get it done right now. You can get a big tarp and slant it and stake it to the ground away from your house. So it brings the water away from the house. Unless it's so bad that even from several feet away it will run back towards the house
[OP]
Newbie
Apr 26, 2009
90 posts
24 upvotes
Markham
sickcars wrote: Only potential issues I see there could be from the gutters, if they are leaking or not sealed well. Or even the AC in the summer when it drips. Also the hose faucet could be another potential issue if it does not seal on the hose properly it could leak a little.

But yes keep an eye on it, hopefully you don't need to repair from the outside but that would be the best fix.
Ah there you go. Hose faucet did have a leak in summer with hose not sealed properly. Got new hose and hope it cud be the issue. Will check gutter and AC for any possible leaks along with inside wall.

Thanks again for all of your input.. Much appreciated
Deal Guru
User avatar
Mar 13, 2004
11267 posts
3017 upvotes
Toronto, Ontario
It stills means you have a crack in the foundation too because no water should come into the house under normal situations (a flood is different) Something you will still want to repair one way or another.
onlinedesh wrote: Ah there you go. Hose faucet did have a leak in summer with hose not sealed properly. Got new hose and hope it cud be the issue. Will check gutter and AC for any possible leaks along with inside wall.

Thanks again for all of your input.. Much appreciated
0_o
<_<
>_>
Deal Addict
Apr 26, 2003
1476 posts
614 upvotes
sickcars wrote: It stills means you have a crack in the foundation too because no water should come into the house under normal situations (a flood is different) Something you will still want to repair one way or another.
If the hosebib leaked and dripped INSIDE, then it might've just dribbled down the wall behind the insulation. OP should look at the hose bib and see if there was evidence of water damage at the top around the joist header where it exits the house. It appears that the basement is unfinished so that's an easy check.
[OP]
Newbie
Apr 26, 2009
90 posts
24 upvotes
Markham
exrcoupe wrote: If the hosebib leaked and dripped INSIDE, then it might've just dribbled down the wall behind the insulation. OP should look at the hose bib and see if there was evidence of water damage at the top around the joist header where it exits the house. It appears that the basement is unfinished so that's an easy check.
Let me fold back the insulation to have broader check and inspect all areas for water penetration. Yes, basement is still unfinished. Thx
Deal Addict
User avatar
Jan 2, 2012
3684 posts
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KINGSTON,ON
The colouration of those stains is odd. The white marks are mineral deposits, and I'm going to assume the the red is iron oxide (rust).
Since it is dry now, and so is the insulation, I'd clean up the stains and monitor the issue. If you experience a winter weather event with excessive rain, I'd check the area.

You mentioned you had a hose bib issue. It's possible that if the seal around to penetration isn't 100%, the water followed the piping back into the wall cavity and soaked into the insulation then gradually made its way to the floor. Fibreglass insulation will hold a surprisingly large volume of water (which is why I hate that shit; mineral wool is the way to go.)

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