Home & Garden

Wet soil coming through basement foundation walls?

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  • Nov 5th, 2020 6:09 pm
[OP]
Deal Addict
Nov 11, 2006
1005 posts
470 upvotes

Wet soil coming through basement foundation walls?

Hi all,

I am hoping for some expert advice out there. A resale purchase is about to close in December and I happened to be at the property yesterday for a walk-through of the basement.
A home inspection was already conducted a few weeks ago and this issue was not detected at the time.

Initially, I thought someone had cleaned something dirty in the basement shower as I saw a dirty "soil like substance" on the shower floor.

But after a few additional visits to the property over the last few weeks, I noticed the soil-like dirt is getting progressively worse. It's also located behind the toilet. I went out to check the foundation and noticed a crack in the same vicinity.

Can anyone tell me what this is? And why am I also seeing it in the shower area?

I'm assuming it's soil and water that is penetrating through the foundation, but I'm not an expert here. I'm obviously also concerned about possible mold.

Let me know if you have any thoughts and suggestions on how to resolve this.

Pictures below.
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13 replies
Deal Expert
Feb 7, 2017
16560 posts
13880 upvotes
Eastern Ontario
Definitely a mould issue.

It’s not dirt or soil coming thru the wall ... ITS DAMP / WATER

I suspect the Owners just used bleach to clean it all up on the ceramic tile etc when you first visited the home, and then again when your Inspector went. Pretty easy to do when there’s no drywall involved. And as someone touring an open house, all you saw / smelled was “clean”.

Ya need more info on this ...

Definitely BEFORE you close.

Because, IIRC home owners are obligated to disclose a mould issue.

If they are “cleaning it up” ... they clearly KNOW it exists.
Deal Guru
User avatar
Oct 6, 2010
14859 posts
9254 upvotes
Toronto
Almost looks like water backed up from the drain and flooded the shower basin and perhaps around the toilet. Could be mould, hard to say. That much mould in a few weeks is very uncommon IMO but I don't know what it is.
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Deal Addict
Mar 22, 2017
1533 posts
1667 upvotes
West GTA
Mold, if I were to guess you'll have to tear up that bathroom and fix the foundation crack (ideally from outside). Not a trivial job, could be solid five figures easily. I'd get them to hold some money in escrow until the remediation/fix is paid for.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Nov 11, 2006
1005 posts
470 upvotes
PointsHubby wrote: Definitely a mould issue.

It’s not dirt or soil coming thru the wall ... ITS DAMP / WATER

I suspect the Owners just used bleach to clean it all up on the ceramic tile etc when you first visited the home, and then again when your Inspector went. Pretty easy to do when there’s no drywall involved. And as someone touring an open house, all you saw / smelled was “clean”.

Ya need more info on this ...

Definitely BEFORE you close.

Because, IIRC home owners are obligated to disclose a mould issue.

If they are “cleaning it up” ... they clearly KNOW it exists.
koffey wrote: Almost looks like water backed up from the drain and flooded the shower basin and perhaps around the toilet. Could be mould, hard to say. That much mould in a few weeks is very uncommon IMO but I don't know what it is.
grumble wrote: Mold, if I were to guess you'll have to tear up that bathroom and fix the foundation crack (ideally from outside). Not a trivial job, could be solid five figures easily. I'd get them to hold some money in escrow until the remediation/fix is paid for.
The substance feels like a moist light-weight soil. Is this definitely mould? I was always under the impression mould was more black in colour. Wouldn't I be able to see the mould on the drywall if that was the case. Also why would it be on the shower basin which is made of plastic?

I'm obviously panicking right now because I just noticed it last night. If I've already waived the inspection clause, can I still force them to fix this issue?
Deal Expert
User avatar
Jun 12, 2007
16406 posts
5144 upvotes
London
koffey wrote: Almost looks like water backed up from the drain and flooded the shower basin and perhaps around the toilet. Could be mould, hard to say. That much mould in a few weeks is very uncommon IMO but I don't know what it is.
+1, looks like a drain problem - shower and toilet are plugged (i.e. dirt in the shower pan)

Run water in the shower and see if it's draining
[OP]
Deal Addict
Nov 11, 2006
1005 posts
470 upvotes
l69norm wrote: +1, looks like a drain problem - shower and toilet are plugged (i.e. dirt in the shower pan)

Run water in the shower and see if it's draining
Now that you say that, I'm hoping that you're right. I do recall seeing the same substance in the toilet.

I don't have much experience with a backed-up drain, but why would the soil-like substance be present in this scenario? Does this mean that soil has broken through cracks in the PVC/ABS drains?

Does that also mean that a significant amount of water backed-up since the substance is all around the shower drain and also behind the toilet area?

Also, does this also mean the current owners are obligated to fix this issue before closing?
Deal Addict
Mar 22, 2017
1533 posts
1667 upvotes
West GTA
CanRulez wrote: The substance feels like a moist light-weight soil. Is this definitely mould? I was always under the impression mould was more black in colour. Wouldn't I be able to see the mould on the drywall if that was the case. Also why would it be on the shower basin which is made of plastic?

I'm obviously panicking right now because I just noticed it last night. If I've already waived the inspection clause, can I still force them to fix this issue?
If it's soil, then you might have an issue with your drain and will have to call a plumber to scope the drain pipe, possibly replacing it. You will still need to fix the damage done by the soil, you have quite a bit of moisture and organic matter on your floor and possibly under your walls. Better than a foundation leak though!
[OP]
Deal Addict
Nov 11, 2006
1005 posts
470 upvotes
grumble wrote: If it's soil, then you might have an issue with your drain and will have to call a plumber to scope the drain pipe, possibly replacing it. You will still need to fix the damage done by the soil, you have quite a bit of moisture and organic matter on your floor and possibly under your walls. Better than a foundation leak though!
The home inspector I used has just agreed to come back to do a moisture test on the walls. I'm hoping he can provide his advice on what the cause and problem is.
Deal Expert
User avatar
Jun 12, 2007
16406 posts
5144 upvotes
London
CanRulez wrote: Now that you say that, I'm hoping that you're right. I do recall seeing the same substance in the toilet.
I don't have much experience with a backed-up drain, but why would the soil-like substance be present in this scenario? Does this mean that soil has broken through cracks in the PVC/ABS drains? Does that also mean that a significant amount of water backed-up since the substance is all around the shower drain and also behind the toilet area?
Also, does this also mean the current owners are obligated to fix this issue before closing?
It's not "soil" as in dirt from the garden or from the outside of the basement wall. It's junk/ garbage that's in the sewer pipe .
It can be that:
a) the drain branch/ lateral from the bathroom to the house main drain is partially plugged
b) the main house drain is partially plugged (either within the basement or on your property )
c) the main house drain outside the house is partially plugged near the street (off your property and on the city side)

It could be a tree root that is plugging the drain, if there are large trees on the property

Maybe @Red_Army from the plumbing thread has additional comments
[OP]
Deal Addict
Nov 11, 2006
1005 posts
470 upvotes
l69norm wrote: It's not "soil" as in dirt from the garden or from the outside of the basement wall. It's junk/ garbage that's in the sewer pipe .
It can be that:
a) the drain branch/ lateral from the bathroom to the house main drain is partially plugged
b) the main house drain is partially plugged (either within the basement or on your property )
c) the main house drain outside the house is partially plugged near the street (off your property and on the city side)

It could be a tree root that is plugging the drain, if there are large trees on the property

Maybe @Red_Army from the plumbing thread has additional comments
Thanks for the added explanation. Hopefully @Red_Army will have a moment to look at the pictures in post #1 and can comment.
Deal Addict
Nov 16, 2011
1328 posts
1023 upvotes
HAMILTON
Is the seller just letting you come and go as you choose ? How did you happen to be there and get access to the basement ?

Has the seller approved the Home Inspector to do another inspection ???

Granted, it does appear there may be an issue but .................... seller could tell you to take a hike. If you saw the basement crack this time, why not the 1st time and same with the inspector.

What else did the home inspector miss. ????
[OP]
Deal Addict
Nov 11, 2006
1005 posts
470 upvotes
luckystrike1 wrote: Is the seller just letting you come and go as you choose ? How did you happen to be there and get access to the basement ?

Has the seller approved the Home Inspector to do another inspection ???

Granted, it does appear there may be an issue but .................... seller could tell you to take a hike. If you saw the basement crack this time, why not the 1st time and same with the inspector.

What else did the home inspector miss. ????
It's a complicated situation, but suffice it to say one of the reasons I proceeded with the purchase was because the seller was facilitating my "move" to the new home by giving me access to the basement and garage. (i.e. I had to also sell my existing house and didn't want to have to move my belongings to a storage facility. One of their selling points to me was giving me access to their basement and garage before closing. This allowed me to stage my existing home with minimal clutter.)

The inspector did notice foundation cracks during inspection but we did not see the backup in the drain. He noticed other building envelope issues and this actually resulted in a low 5 figure credit upon closing.
Sr. Member
Dec 25, 2006
605 posts
458 upvotes
Winnipeg
l69norm wrote: It's not "soil" as in dirt from the garden or from the outside of the basement wall. It's junk/ garbage that's in the sewer pipe .
It can be that:
a) the drain branch/ lateral from the bathroom to the house main drain is partially plugged
b) the main house drain is partially plugged (either within the basement or on your property )
c) the main house drain outside the house is partially plugged near the street (off your property and on the city side)

It could be a tree root that is plugging the drain, if there are large trees on the property

Maybe @Red_Army from the plumbing thread has additional comments
It could be the drain in/under the foundation is actually broken/plugged and is backing up.. The material in those pictures looks awfully "clean" to be junk from the pipe.
I would be getting a video scoping done on those lines.
People will believe what they want to believe whether fact or fiction.
'tis most frustrating when they aren't open to see and/or learn which is which.

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