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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've worked on many old houses, but need some advice on this problem. I'm currently renovation an 1810 cape in western Maine. Structurally, the house is in good shape considering its age, but there is a real water problem in the cellar. The walls are comprised of the usual split rock and some field stone, and they still straight and solid. It is a full cellar with approx 7' walls. Some time ago, a concrete floor was added with a French drain around the perimeter and a sump pump at the low side. The problem is the amount of water coming in from the outside - especially on the front of the house that faces toward a slight hill. When the pump was off last year (when the house was up for sale), the water rose to almost 3' deep. Even when the pump is running, moisture is a constant issue. The problem is compounded by the rain water shedding off the metal roof.

My question: Can I put a French drain of sorts on the outside of the house to divert the water away from the structure without damaging the integrity of the foundation? Or is there a better way to address this problem?

Many thanks in advance for your thoughts on this issue.

John
 

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You could make improvements in landscaping around the foundation as a first step. If you dig in you will need to find a lower point to drain water too, or pump it out. Water proofing the inside of the foundation might help, but has its limits.
If your getting the water in early on when its raining, surface remedies might solve the problem

Obviously digging out around the foundation, especially on a house this old (probably dry stacked, or nothing left in terms of mortar) can be troublesome if not done properly.

Getting 3' of water may also be a water table issue, spring time when you have the most water?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for your thoughts, Aframe. Yes, spring and rainy seasons seem to be the problem times, though this is hear-say from those in neighboring houses and from a couple of people who know this house. I just picked this house up as a foreclosure, and haven't seen it though a full set of seasons yet. However, the watermarks in the cellar are clear. And yes, the walls are dry-stacked.

The property has a pretty good slope, so drainage should not be a problem if I can get the water away from the structure. The ground is frozen now and I will have to wait until spring to determine the water table level.

Are you suggesting perhaps a 6-12 inch drain around the front of the house - which faces the hill across the street, is under the eves of the cape roof, and seems to be above the wettest side of the cellar? If so, any suggestions for a design of such a drain? I understand the need to pull the water off to a lower level, but that should be easy because of the slope of the property.

Thanks again. John
 

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I am not a drainage/landscaping pro by any means, you or someone you bring in, will have to evaluate your conditions to set up a proper solution.

But for ideas on a low tech solution to maybe help with the problem
google "french drain" images.

You'll be able to see how this could work for you a lot clearer than me trying to explain it

Go into the landscaping forum and ask them for more/better exterior ideas
 
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