The problem: My basement is flooding!

I received a frantic phone call in regard to a sale that was going south fast. The house was vacant and upon an inspection just prior to closing the purchasers had discovered “water was flooding into the basement”.

As soon as I asked the details the information that was provided gave me a immediate understanding of the non-issue. For me.

For the vendor it was a serious situation as the purchasing parties were advising “they had never seen this situation before and they were familiar with houses and this house has flooding issues that would need expensive repairs that would be a factor in adjusting the purchase price of the house.”

I explained on the phone that this would be an easy remedy, but because the situation was being escalated by the purchasers, I agreed to go to site and explain it in person.

Upon arrival, I found exactly what I expected. A non-issue. At least to me.

Water running down all walls of the basement. This was not an issue because it had not rained in almost 6 weeks, and the water had recently started. The marks on the wall showed this had happened multiple times before.

I brought everyone that was onsite, to the walls and showed them this situation was not only happening on exterior walls, but also on the wall that backed onto the garage. This area is almost virtually impossible to get water in unless you are having a Biblical proportion flood. Some areas of insulation had as much as 6 inches of water backed inside the vapour barrier.

At this point I asked when they had turned on the AC in the house. The vendor stated she had turned it on about 3 days before as the house was mostly closed and the air was extremely hot from the latest heat wave.

When I explained that this was the cause of the water (and it was a lot of water by this time) but was not a problem with the house.

I also discovered the sump pump had been not working for quite some time as the motor not only was seized, but the entire setup was installed in a way that had probably never worked from the initial setup.

Easy: Do not have conditioned air blowing through the duct work in a basement!

Yes, it is as simple as that. So many times I have seen water literally running down the side of a furnace from the condensation in the basement, simply because you have cold damp concrete (most basements are below grade) with cold air blowing on it. This creates a perfect surface for condensation to collect to the point it can actually flood a basement.

When those hot days of summer (we miss them already!) are unbearable and we try to cool the house, remember to close the vents in the basement. A dehumidifier may be needed also to help as it can move the air around as well.

That is it… Such a simple solution and yet many times it causes grief for those who do not know.

So… The crying?

I explained to the vendor that all she needed to do was to close the vents in the basement and to run her dehumidifier for the next couple of days.

At this point she asked if she should remove/replace the insulation on the walls as the purchasers said it was one of the items that would be needed to be done. I told her this is not something she needed to do, just open the bottom and in a few days it would be dry on it’s own accord.

When she finally realized this was not a “thousands of dollars in repairs” that would need to be done, she burst into tears. She then asked if she could give me a hug (do not tell my wife!) as this was overwhelming her, she had become resigned that this deal was going to fall apart.

Three days later she called me, once again in tears. The purchasing parties had come through to look at the house and asked her how much she had spent to remedy the house. She said she decided to have a bit of fun at their expense. She told them she got a deal for less than $5000. The purchasers closed the deal a few minutes later.

And that is why I love my job!


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