Moisture Problems – Is Your Drain Tile Dependable (Part 12)

Too many homebuyers have hired MN home inspectors that found the sellers disclosure regarding basement moisture to be incorrect and sometimes blatantly false. Unfortunately, too often, unsuspecting real estate agents are pulled into this scheme. The biggest culprits of this ruse are sump pumps and drain tiles. You would be surprised how many innocent agents are told the basement of the house they listed is drain tiled…and never look to verify that it is true. This is way too risky and this home inspector intends for that never to happen to you. Honestly and understandably, many agents and homeowners have never been trained to be able to distinguish between the different types of water control systems.

Did You Remember?
Some systems work and many do not.

Recently, one of my home inspection students told a horror story in class about a lawsuit his daughter won against the real estate agents involved in her home purchase. The MLS listing stated that the house was drain tiled and the buyer’s agent when seeing the sump basket verbally confirmed that to be true. The daughter moved into the house and the basement flooded shortly thereafter. She was eventually awarded a $30,000 claim against both agents.

Did You Know?
Water always goes to the easiest exit point.

Drain tiled basements have a pipe that is continuous around the entire perimeter of the foundation. This 4” pipe has holes that will freely gather ground water before it gets onto the floor. These pipes extend and dump water into the basket which is then pumped outside.

So take the cover off the sump basket and look inside. If you see two 4” pipes coming thru the side of the basket, the basement is drain tiled and dependable. If there are no pipes, the basement is not drain tiled and undependable.

Very often what looks like a drain tiled basement turns out to be nothing but a pit in the floor. This would be a mega real estate agent or homebuyer nightmare.

Oh the sweet sound of the house speaking so softly.

Moisture Problems – Sump Pumps and Drain Tile (Part 11)

Many homebuyers and real estate agents have the perception that a sump pump and drain tile indicate a problematic house, something they should walk away from…nothing could be further from the truth. When this system is installed properly it will really work. Soil conditions will impact the exact type of installation and the elevation of the water table on how often it will need to operate, but when these two factors are considered this method of water control is very reliable.

Why is it that so many people continue to have this uneasiness about sumps?

Sumps and pumps have evolved over the years. Old drain tile systems are made with clay tiles and placed directly in the dirt. Because of the brittle material and open joints, they are prone to becoming damaged or plugged with silt. It’s not uncommon for this condition to exist in many homes today. In addition, countless con artists have designed cheaper “quick and easy” water control methods for homeowner installation. Commonly called beaver systems, these systems failed miserably and most of these people ended up in jail for fraud. Both of these systems are concealed, either below the basement floor or behind finished walls. So…using our “see thru wall’ home inspector eyes, how could a buyer or agent tell if either of these risky conditions existed?

It’s simple – find the basement floor drain. Most drains are on the surface of the floor, but sometimes they are below a wood or metal cover plate that you must lift up. These old systems will drain directly into a plumbing floor drain which indicates that problem home.

But newer drain tile systems are embedded in gravel and made with a continuous plastic pipe with holes. These pipes are more durable and are covered with a silt screen fabric that keeps them from becoming plugged. The sump pump will be discharged into the yard and in some instances there will be an additional battery backup pump. These systems are very reliable and should put the homeowner, buyer or the real estate agent at ease.

How would you recognize this type of dependable installation? Do all sumps have drainage pipes that go around the perimeter of the foundation? Next week let’s listen to what the house and this MN home inspector have to say about these matters.