A Little Knowledge Really is Dangerous!

We did our homework before deciding on a house, but evidently not well enough. What was our first mistake? Maybe believing the realtor when she said the house never had any water problems? Probably. But there many more mistakes along the way.

By then, we knew that in northwest Framingham, "the lack of till and vegetation on the hills creates extreme runoff situations during heavy rains. A lot of these nice houses have multiple sump pumps, perimeter drains (whatever they are!), and specially graded lawns in order to keep their basement dry – and many still end up damp and clammy downstairs."

We weren't at all intimidated by the geography/geology of the area, though, because we were buying a slab home. We thought only basements were affected by water problems, but guess what? Nothing could be farther from the truth! Guess what else? Heavy rains aren't the only cause of "extreme runoff situations." Melting snow also creates rushing rivers where there were no rivers before, and snow melts all winter long.

So, we don't have a wet basement; we have wet bedrooms, instead! The floors are damp all the time, and sometimes the floors are SOAKING WET! (If you leave a plastic box on the floor for a few days, and then sit on the floor where the box was, you'll get wet to the skin - even wearing three layers of clothing!)

Why is this happening? Because the foundation is wet. Why is the foundation wet? We think it's a combination of things (all of which cost money to fix). Why are we getting wet? Because like most foundations, ours is made of concrete. Concrete is a porous material, and it actually acts something like a sponge. The small air pockets in concrete gives it a property known as capillary action.

image by Pearson Scott Foresman, donated to the Wikimedia Foundation

Water is attracted to the concrete surface, and will pull itself through small openings, even against the force of gravity. Since our foundation is wet, the water moves up through the concrete and into the house.

The trick is to keep the foundation dry, whether you have a basement or not. You can usually control moisture by having the land sloped away from the house itself,

Installing gutters and drain spouts appropriately, and keeping them clean, and

Keeping flower beds and bushes away from the house.

At our house, the yard is sloping down to the house. The gutters were installed wrong, and they don't work AT ALL. Water pours through them and gushes down every corner, too. And there are very wet flower beds right smack against the foundation all around the house.

Add in the steeply sloped hill in the backyard, the lack of till and consequently sparse vegetation, the unusually high water table, and the soil that is 100% clay, and it is a recipe for disaster.

The location is ideal and the yard is my idea of paradise - but what a helluva mess we're in now!


  1. Ah yes, our realtor also claimed our house had never had water issues. Oy, so frustrating!

  2. I agree! I'm not usually vindictive, but it feels like being violated to be lied to so casually and so BLATENTLY. (I haven't decided what, if anything, to do about it, though!)


I love positive comments, critical comments,and corrections most of all!