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Footer Drain Tiles Question

Terence McCann

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Bungalow built in 1941.

Part of the report from a foundation contractor through a third party:

He saw signs of efflorescence and was particularly concerned with the East side wall that backs to the rear of the home. He then walked the perimeter of the home and made his final detemination. He feels that the rear wall is the source of the problem and that by digging down to the footer drains and waterproofing this wall, running a high pressure hose through the footer drain tiles while he is down there, he will correct the problem and therefore is not recommending any other walls be waterproofed at this time. That said, he realizes the possibility exists for further work to be done, if it is discovered that the footer drains are in any way compromised. He warranties his work for 15 years. This repair involves the removal of part of the deck, the A/C and some of the concrete, which is why it is expensive. The A/C would be reconnected and the deck re-attached.

All four walls were very damp and I can't see how taking care of the back wall will fix the other three walls. Perhaps he is doing a bait and switch where once he has all the land torn up guess what, your gonna need more digging - I don't know.

My question: Was it standard practice to install footer drain tiles in 1941? I'm thinking no however this contractor has been in the neighborhood a long time. Although no mention of it was made the drains for the downspouts are the old terra cotta style and I'd bet a buck their broken in the soil.

Kurt, or folks from the older cities, any thoughts?

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Downspout receivers shouldn't have anything to do with footing drains. We probably wouldn't see footing drains for 1941 houses here but we certainly would see clay or concrete downspout receivers and most of the time they're separated below grade.

OT - OF!!!


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I have never seen footer drains, as we now know them, prior to 1958. Even then it was a very simple type system until early 70's when the now commonly known system(s) started to be used. It is certainly a regional thing.

My first read of contractor proposal is that he is not too bright. My second read is that he is engaging in a bait and switch.

I remain a staunch believer in getting water away from house as a first action. I think any system that catches water and re-directs is not as good as knowing where water comes from and simply getting it away from house.

Bill K may have some anecdotal reference for footing drains, but I think a 1941 house in Ohio with footing drains would be unusual. Many were tiled to atmosphere, so if this one has drains and you put any pressure on those tile, you will be destroying system.

any expert opinion will have be be predicated on actual site conditions. may comments are just that - comments.

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Hard to say.......

I don't know about elsewhere, but in Chicago, sewers/footing tile/storm sewer tile can be just about any configuration depending on the age of the house and what 'hood it's in. There is no standard anything. So, I can't comment on normal, 'cuz there isn't.

My experience says the longer one has to ascertain what's causing basement water entrance, the better the final analysis, and the simpler the final solution(s). Very few houses need full perimeter drain tile, in my experience. The installers (and us) go that route because they have to cast a very wide and large net to catch all the stuff they don't have time to figure out.

So, the guy that's been around the neighborhood longer than anyone probably has the best answer.

Or not. Can't tell from this far away.

A 70 year old clay tile in the dirt is probably broken someplace, full of dirt, or otherwise faulty. If there's trees anywhere nearby, it's probably full of roots.

I'd tell my folks to expect more work to be necessary than what was originally thought. That's pretty much the case in every project I've ever been involved in, and probably more so for anything where the sun don't shine.......

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Bill K may have some anecdotal reference for footing drains

Drain tile systems were being used in railroad construction well before 1900.

I saw an original drain tile system installed at a 1914 home.

A 1908 building handbook describes in detail the installation of drain tile systems.

In my experience, they were not regularly installed until the mid-1940s.

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Bill K may have some anecdotal reference for footing drains

Drain tile systems were being used in railroad construction well before 1900.. . .

Indeed. My wife's aunts, uncles, & cousins are farmers in southern Illinois. Much of their land was drained with clay drain tiles that were installed late in the 19th century. When I visited them in the mid '80s, they were in the process of replacing those drains. They were able to locate the tiles by chartering a photographer to take aerial photographs that showed the tile locations as plain as day. Some of those original tiles were 5' below grade -- all dug by hand. Woof!

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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