100 Year Old NC House Advice

Asked September 1, 2016, 4:33 PM EDT

I have a house in NC built in 1920. There is a basement under half the house with a drainage pipe from a "chimney" like block structure built along the outside basement wall where ground water collects and drains through a pipe into a channel in the basement leading to a sump pump. My question - on a rare occasion when the power goes out, I want to "plug" the incoming pipe and then slowly drain once the power comes back on so that I don't have to invest in back-up power, connect a generator or lose anything stored in the basement. Am I crazy?

Wilson County North Carolina

5 Responses

Is there any way to install a pipe to drain way and down hill from the house? The pipe would need to drain to the ground surface somewhere down hill. The drain would need to be installed like the foundation drain illustrated in this guide.

To answer your exact question:
Just plugging the existing outdoor sump would exert extreme hydraulic pressures on the basement walls and would generate some leaks.

Unfortunately the area surrounding the house is relatively flat. The basement foundation sits about five feet below ground level so there is no place to install a pipe that would drain without a pump. Does that one drain in the foundation prevent leaks on the other three sides?

It is possible that perforated pipe completely encircles the basement foundation and seeps into the sump/well on that side of the house. It could also be that the water source or the slight uphill direction is on that side of the home.

Living in hill country it is pretty easy for me to throw stones and say the builder picked a poor site for a basement home. It seems we are having a lot more extreme weather events that require a sump pump in your situation.

It would not take a very big generator to power the sump pump, through an extension cord. The same generator could be shared with refrigerator and freezer, if the extension cords are managed carefully. That would require manual hands-on operation. Just remember the safety considerations. Keep the generator well away from the home, use the right kind and size extension cords and don't refuel a hot generator.

It might be worth hiring someone to take careful elevation measurements to make sure a simple drain will not work. Keeping the high water level down as low as you can. The higher the water level in that outdoor sump the higher the risk to your basement.

Thanks! I appreciate your help.