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About three years ago we had a french drain (Waterguard system)

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installed in our basement....
About three years ago we had a french drain (Waterguard system) installed in our basement. We have since then experienced drastic settling in our home. Could this system be the problem?
Submitted: 8 years ago.Category: Home Improvement
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Answered in 1 hour by:
6/28/2010
Home Improvement Expert: Stephen Cutler, General Contractor replied 8 years ago
Stephen Cutler
Stephen Cutler, General Contractor
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 2,062
Experience: 35 years of troubleshooting construction, remodel, component & material failures. What to do next
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Hi and thanks for using JustAnswer.com.
Does your basement have a dirt floor, or cement floor that was cut, at the permiter walls, down to dirt, and filled with stone, for the drain? Does the drain lead to a sump pump, or is drainage by gravity? Is there sand or soil buildup at the discharge location of the pump or gravity system? Soil buildup at the discharge would indicate soil removal from the source, and, If the source is right next to the base of your walls, then yes, this system could be the problem. You need to find the elevation of the base of the supporting walls to determine if water is coming under them up to the French drain and if that water is carrying soil out from under the wall base.

I hope that this information was helpful to you. If it was please remember to click "ACCEPT" on your screen to make sure that I am paid for my efforts. By clicking ACCEPT you are not giving up your ability to ask more questions pertaining to this subject, and I will be happy to respond to these as well. Please take a moment and leave feedback, it is very important!
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
Our discharge is in our backyard. It is hard to tell if there is discharge there because of our grassy lawn. And yes the drain leads to a sump pump. The french drain is about 2.5 feet inside the perimiter due to a michigan ledge. So your statement about the water coming under the footers up to the drain is probably accurate to our situation. How would we find the elevation of the base of our supporting walls?
Customer reply replied 8 years ago
Oh I forgot to mention that we have a cement floor that was cut.
Home Improvement Expert: Stephen Cutler, General Contractor replied 8 years ago
Are all the supporting walls pinned to ledge? Or is there just one part that is on ledge? And is this ground water, or rain water?

Edited by Stephen Cutler on 6/28/2010 at 12:44 PM EST
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
The ledge goes all the way around the basement. The water is ground water. But of course when it rains there is more water.
Customer reply replied 8 years ago
I replied to a question asked by the expert and am waiting for reply. I answered it almost three hours ago.
Customer reply replied 8 years ago
Hoping to find out what is going on with my answer to the problem. Have not had a response all day.
Home Improvement Expert: Stephen Cutler, General Contractor replied 8 years ago
Sorry for the delay- last check in was 10AM then went to one of my jobs.
If you have concrete walls directly on ledge, there is no soil to wash out from under the walls. Was your basement blasted into the ledge with dynamite, or does your basement sit on the ledge? I built a house directly on ledge- no blasting. The slope was steep and water would weep between the concrete and ledge, so I'm not surprised you have the same problem & a French drain to eject the water from your basement.
Perhaps your "drastic settling" is a framing/lumber/fastener issue. Seeing how drastic is an adverb and not a measurement, what are the symptoms of this "drastic" settling?
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
Our house is 90 years old. So that is why we question the sudden settling. The ledge in the basement is quite large. The facade on the basement walls outside are buckling. Hardwood floors are gapping and countertops are gapping from walls.
Home Improvement Expert: Stephen Cutler, General Contractor replied 8 years ago
This sounds like a failure(rust most likely-rot possibly- post beetle-termites)of the attachment of the floor joists to the outer bands of the home. As it pulls apart the floor gets wider (gaps) and the floor pulls away from the walls(taking base cabinets and counter top with it). Concrete does not flex well at all. As the walls pull away from the floor they take the supporting wall(concrete/block) with them. This movement will cause the buckling to the parge coat or stucco coat (you call it a facade). Hopefully your basement ceiling is not finished so you can inspect the connections & lumber. Stab the lumber with an ice pick to detect rot/powder post beetle/termite damage. If the ceiling is finished, you will need to remove it at the outside edges and the center. The center carrier and floor joist laps should be inspected as well.
Is your roof line changing to that of a swaybacked mule? This happens when the ceiling joists (at the lower roof elevation) become compromised. I ask this because if you have beetles/termites they may have attacked the ceiling joists as well. I suspect insect damage because although it takes a long time to eat enough to compromise the structure, once it reaches that point, symptoms of failure happens quickly.

I hope that this information was helpful to you. If it was please remember to click "ACCEPT" on your screen to make sure that I am paid for my efforts. By clicking ACCEPT you are not giving up your ability to ask more questions pertaining to this subject, and I will be happy to respond to these as well. Please take a moment and leave feedback, it is very important!
If I exceeded your expectations, a bonus is greatly appreciated- it's easy to do
when you accept an answer. Or you can come back and add a bonus at a later date by using the "bonus" button at the top your question page.
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Home Improvement Expert: Stephen Cutler, General Contractor replied 8 years ago
Have you found evidence of structural failure, insect damage, rot?
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
There looks to be no evidence of any of the above. Sorry for the delay on answering you back.
Home Improvement Expert: Stephen Cutler, General Contractor replied 8 years ago
I'm sure you gave it your best shot, but as a layman engineer it is unreasonable to expect you would know how to recognize telltale signs of various structural compromises and failures. To be sure you recognized the buckling parge coat, the cracks in the floor and counter top/wall joints, but not the causes. That is what brought you here to me. My verbal assistance can only guide you, it can not train you. In light of the accelerated rate of structural changes occurring I urge to to hire a structural engineer to identify the cause. This should only cost about $300. It is money well spent to protect your home, and it will prevent you from hiring contractors to do unnecessary "repairs" that are not the cause of your problem. It is better to be out $300 and know what is wrong, than to be out $3000 and still not know what is wrong. In my case you wisely offered to spend $4.50 for my expertise (I only get half of the $9). I think you would agree. If you do, please click the accept button.
Stephen Cutler
Stephen Cutler, General Contractor
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 2,062
Experience: 35 years of troubleshooting construction, remodel, component & material failures. What to do next
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Home Improvement Expert: Stephen Cutler, General Contractor replied 8 years ago
one more thought- On the old Sears house kits -late 1800s-early 1900s there was an unreasonable dependence on nails. I had a porch with what appeared to be a 8X12 beam spanning the front about 18 feet. The beam was sagged like a rented mule's back. I pulled off the face trim to discover a ladder of 2x4 nailed with 8d common nails and the face trim had been "supernailed" to the ladder with 8 d finish nails. No glue. What I was looking at was a truss that relied on the 8d nails to work. I could not believe it had lasted 73 years. But the nails finally rusted and the truss was failing.
So one thing to consider in your case is failed framing connections. These are hidden between walls and between floors, so once a suspicious visual observation is detected, opening up the wall or ceiling may be necessary.
Thank you for your accept.
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