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Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/21/2009 7:51 PM

I own the end unit of a group of 4 townhouses. They were built on slabs in 1988-1990. The water table is very high. Last summer, during a dry spell, I dug a hole for a new plant, went in for lunch, and when I came back the hole was almost filled with water!

We had very heavy rains this morning and when I went into the kitchen about 9 am, I noticed water filling the grout and on 3-4 of the ceramic tiles. It looked like the floor had been washed and one area still had a puddle. There was absolutely NO leak anywhere. I wiped up the area. When I came home a few hours later I noticed a 2" circle of water in the middle of one of the tiles. I wiped it dry.

It's now 7:30 pm and we haven't had any rain since mid-afternoon. The circle of water is back again! I also see a very small hairline crack in one of the tiles. There are spots of water coming through 2-3 other tiles that are next to the original area.

What do I do? Who do I call?

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#1

Re: HELP - Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/22/2009 1:35 AM

What is the geology in the area. Weathered Seynite for example will expand and shrink as the water contents changes and cracks and fountains are a posibility.

You may also be situated on an aquifer.

Try and obtain a geotechnical map for your area.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: HELP - Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/22/2009 8:41 AM

Who do I contact for that?

I know all about Google maps which are aerial - is there something that can be obtained on the internet?

Would I contact a survey company?

Lastly, thank you for taking the time to respond.

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#3

Re: Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/22/2009 10:50 PM

Not sure how townhomes work - Are they like condominiums with association/membership fees? If it is the water table, your probably not the only one with water infiltration. If you know your neighbors well, see if they have noticed similar problems. If so, and you have an association, bring it up to the board as something that needs to be addressed. Otherwise, if you have full ownership rights to landscaping and appearance, you may have to tackle this on your own. Check the yellow-book for a good engineering/architectural firm in your area, or if it's a new construction, go back to the contractor.

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#4

Re: Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/22/2009 10:54 PM

I'd start with a phone call to your local municipal building department, they may have some ideas or experience with your problem and how to fix or mediate. Or, they may refer you to a mechanical consultant for an investigation.

With water table problem areas for slab on grade buildings we usually recommend an underslab drainage pumped system, fed through dirt interceptors and into the storm drainage systems.

Other problems may be related to external drain paths, maybe a downspout is draining into the building during rain storms. Perhaps you may have a roof leak showing up on the floor, running down the inside of a wall.

Good luck

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/22/2009 11:12 PM

It's odd to a non-engineer like myself but I have learned that a leak through the floor may not be as obvious as it seems; it may seem like the source is directly below the floor or it may be coming from someplace totally unexpected and the outlet is simply through the floor!

All these suggestions are great - I'm saving them and will print them out and then go to the Board - yes, it is sort of like a condo situation.

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#6

Re: Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/22/2009 11:53 PM

You need a Plumber or a Builder.

I had this exacxt same issue recently. My house has a downstairs area and water was seeping up through the grout between the tiles.

This was caused by the fact that the outside wall (made of concrete blocks), was not sealed correctly. When it rained, the ground water would seep down through the substrates in the clay soil, and gather against the side of the floor slab which had soil about 50cm up the wall. Once the water got deep enough it would simply leach through the concrete block wall and flow inside. However what it did at one point, was seep on top of the slab, but beneath the tiles, and then at the lowest point in the floor (most concrete floors are not completely flat) the water would seep up "out of the middle of the floor". Once I had determined what I thought was causing the problem I simply dug down to below slab level outside and installed an "ag-pipe" drain (slotted PVC tubing) which routed the seepage away from the slab, before it could pool and get deep enough to flow over the slab. (NOTE:- "simply dug down" is the technical term for - spent 3 days digging a floggin' great hole under the house, all along the uphill side of the downstairs room, then around the side and past the house till the pipe could be laid with a slight fall all the way from the highest point to the end away from the house!)

I still haven't filled in the hole, but once it was dug out and I allowed the water to drain, there has been no more water on the floor inside, even though the rain runs straight into the trench, and it gets more water down there than it ever did!.

Enjoy!

Tony

P.S. Just had a thought... if you have no slope on your block of land, draining the water away may be a whole lot more complicated. But I do think it is more likely that the water is coming across the top of your floor slab (as explained above), rather than up through the middle.

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#7

Re: Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/23/2009 12:07 AM

All good brainstorming ideas. Get Stablecrete and apply to concrete, penetrates the concrete and waterproofs it completly thru by ion action. Still need to see why water is there. Mold and mildew needs to be avoided.

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/23/2009 12:16 AM

It's seeping through a hairline crack in a ceramic tile floor. The only visible slab is the garage floor. BTW - the crack developed within the past year; it wasn't there when I purchased the house Jan 2008. I'm thinking that it may be more of a stress fracture due to the collection of water that may be pooling whenever there is a heavy rain.

There was a small puddle this morning which I dried and again around 10 am. As of 12 noon today the seepage seems to have stopped. We'll see if it's still dry Friday morning.

If so, then it must be related to the heavy rains we had Wednesday night and Thursday. Maybe the high water table; maybe a roof leak and the floor was the exit point.... I still vote for a crack in the slab/foundation which we can't see.

This area is known for having a very high water table.

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#9

Re: Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/23/2009 1:03 AM

Hi Ell510,

If I were you, i will call a builder. tell them to elevate your floor to a desired level where floor level be more higher than outside ground level, but of course the existing ceiling level height will not be affected as standard. in simple logic, if your floor level is higher than outside ground level the tendency is the water will goes and penetrate at lower point. so you will not going to have this problem. it is also highly recommended to pour some sort of water proofing chemical to the concrete while mixing, this will help a lot.

I don't think you need to call a surveyor, consultant, or local building official as the Builder is capable to solve your problem.

However if the situation is the existing ceiling is at the minimum, height standard, then chipped off the existing tiles and put concrete topping of about 100mm, again ensure that water proofing chemical is to be added.

It will not cost you too much since most of the townhouses ground floor building area not bigger than 60 square meter.

Kind regards

Roman

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/23/2009 4:10 AM

If its not a roof leak and not higher ground on one side of the building pull a couple of the tile where the leak is and see if there is a crack in the concrete, its hydraulic pressure forcing the water through the slab. If there is your going to drill through the slab and inject under pressure a bentonit or diatomachus earth slery to seal the concret from under neath. Thats all the tile and carpet and a grid patern of holes 3 feet by 3 feet. Plus a perimeter drain. you will need new tile the carpet can by restreched. Try the perimeter drain first and get it as deep as you can.

Thirty year as a carpet layer.

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#11

Re: Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/23/2009 7:57 AM

How new is the house? Is it still under warranty?

A quick do-it-yourself go around the outside where the siding meets the concrete and caulk it. Also check for cracks in concrete slab their is a polyurathan concrete caulking you could use. This is only a temporary solution.

If you are a loud to alter the landscape around your home and you receive permission from the local, state, federal, etc. governments. You can install a u-drain(underground drain). Dig a trench around your home approx 12" by 12" lay Geotextile fabric in then layer in 2-3" of 1/2" stone aggregate. Lay a perforated pipe on top, cover with stone; then the fabric; then soil an grass. Run the pipe down to a near by swale, drain, roadway, etc.

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#12

Re: Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/23/2009 8:44 AM

I don't understand why people are asking how old the house is. You said the slab was poured 1988-1990 right? That would make the structure at least 18 years old and probably not under any kind of warranty at this point. If this is a condo like setup that the association or management is responsible for repairs, and certainly water seeping up through the floor would necessitate such a repair, then the "man" should pay for repairs. My thinking is that a company that specializes in waterproofing basements should be able to handle this one. When I was in Kentucky there was a company called "B-Dry" that did this type of work. I definitely would recommend a professional (for the guarantee if nothing else). Water problems can be very chronic and pesky.

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#13
In reply to #12

Re: Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/23/2009 9:13 AM

Could be a new townhouse on an old slab. Fire, flooding, etc. could have destroyed the old one. Don't know the answer so I asked the question. No harm no fowl.

Some townhouses in PA are owned by the owner you are then part of an association (gated community) in which dues is paid for which services are rendered like road maintenance, club house, pool, lakes, etc.

Besides sometimes it's just faster, easier, and less pain in the back side to do it yourself then to rely on the "man" to do it for you. Been there before. First place we lived in was a condo had a out-door faucet that leaked inside the basement took four month for maintenance man to come and another three months to repair it. I could have fixed myself in about a hour. Hole in roof after major storm 8 months to fixed that left nails all over back yard dog stepped on one association never paid vet bill they said it was my fault for not picking up the nails. We moved at the end of our contract and reported them to Pa's Housing Commission and BBB.

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#14
In reply to #13

Re: Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/23/2009 9:50 AM

Ouch... remind me to never buy a town house.

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#15
In reply to #14

Re: Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/23/2009 9:58 AM

Yah we learned our lession the hard way. I built our last two homes so when there are any problems the "man" I have to go after is me. I just buck up and take it then.

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#16

Re: Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/23/2009 10:19 AM

It is the original townhome built near 1990; garage in front, same level as main living area, 2nd floor has bedrooms; nothing too original.

There is water there again this morning.... no new rain but the ground hasn't had a chance to really dry out and they're calling for heavy rains again today and tonight!

Thought: since there's water again today would that rule out the roof or gutters since there's no moving water and make it more related to ground water, the water table or a crack in the foundation?

The kitchen is in the center of the unit so as far as really identifying the source where does one start? Unfortunately the foyer, laundry hall, kitchen and eating areas are tiled. Once the tile that sits smack in the middle of the floor is removed I'll end up needing to replace an entire floor!

Also, it could be debated whether this 'should' fall under the asociation's responsibility since it's an interior location but possibly the source is exterior which is considered 'common area' and then would be covered.

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#17
In reply to #16

Re: Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/23/2009 10:37 AM

Is the tile "new", does it look like it's been repaired before? This could be a pre-existing problem that the association or previous owner tried to cover up.

If not stopped the water will eventually cause the tile to pop and expand to other areas, just a heads up.

Like I posted before I would start on the outside and try and seal all the visiable cracks. Work with your neighbors, they may have similar problems, and seal the whole building. Look into a u-drain system also.

I really don't have an easy or in expensive answer for you if it's coming up through the pad. Except maybe installing a sump pump in another section of the slab and try and pump the ground water out.

Your in a tuff spot. Good luck

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#25
In reply to #16

Re: Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/25/2009 1:28 AM

No. just replace with a tile the same size, but with a flower or what ever and call it a conversation tile.

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#18

Re: Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/23/2009 10:48 AM

I know you said there was no leak anywhere...however as you know, water is funny stuff. It can get in and move around in mysterious ways. Your place was great for a couple of decades...what has changed?

If there were no problems in the last 18 years, this could be a new thing. The most likely is rusted or missing eavestroughts, downspouts draining too close to the foundation, or dried out asphalt shingles. Another very likely possibility is that the sealant around the windows and doors has dried out and become non-weather tight. These things should be attended to before you start digging trenches. (Heck, they should be done anyway after eighteen years! Sometimes a load of garden soil dropped off in the front of the house can change the drainage patterns outside. In my time I have seen all the above things manifest themselves as baffling puddles of water.

Good luck. I have done the perimiter trench thing...and its a lot of work, and it spoils the landscaping, its back breaking work and makes a mess, but you may be able to do it yourself. See if the above suspects can be put to rest first. New shingles, eavestroughs, downspouts and caulking are probably about due anyway. If you still have problems, well then it may well be time to call in a local professional.

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#19

Re: Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/23/2009 12:15 PM

Hi all,

We seem to be loosing sight of the fact that Ell510's townhouse is with a group of four. It would seem that he needs to get together with the neighbors at a minimum and get input from them. They would be involved if any excavations are necessary. The association also needs to know. Others in the association may be having trouble also. If it is a problem from the original contractor's failure, then it is likely that all the buildings in the development have the same problem and may require contacting the contractor for correction. Hopefully legal action can be avoided.

Good luck

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#20

Re: Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/23/2009 2:45 PM

I know down here in Louisiana the water lines are run under the slab and often get cracked when the concrete slab cracks from normal concrete cracking or settling of the land under the slab. Your high water table is also a problem here. They should have also put a plastic barrier under your concrete to prevent seepage from the ground up through your slab, that could have been damaged during the slab pouring and can cause some seepage too. You may have to chip out your tiles where the leak is and see if you can further trouble shoot the problem.

You might even have a leaking water line in the wall area supplying your kitchen sink and the spot where it happens to be puddling up is a low spot where it is collecting.

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#21
In reply to #20

Re: Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/23/2009 2:55 PM

Thanks for some really good troubleshooting. I doubt that the original builder put a plastic barrier down... from what I've heard he was actually indicted for something way back when (don't know if it was at this property or another one).

My dilemma is who will end up paying for this which will depend on the source of the leak; regardless it looks like I'll have to retile the entire floor since I don't have any more of the original tile - ouch!

If the leak is from an original water line into the house or a crack in the slab then I think it's the condo association; if the leak is from water line attached to the sink I don't know if that's their responsiblity or mine.

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#22

Re: Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/23/2009 4:30 PM

Ell510,

If your condominium documents are More or Less "Standard" (you haven' said where you are located) If the source of the water is a plumbing leak in or under the slab, the Association is responsible for a repair. May involve a contribution towards a deductible payment if insurance is involved? Most Documents provide repair or replace of a floor covering from water damage, but usually also call for Builder Grade of a replacement material.

Kind words from the RPR in his previous post, about using StableCrete could be something to consider, after you have the moisture source identified.

Often moisture wicking up through a slab will collect as your saying, on a grout joint or most common collect under a VCT product and you don't realize it. Mold, mildew and loss of adhesion to a vinyl or rubber floor material is common in high water table areas.

Drainage around a slab is affective until you have unusually high quantities of rain that can overwhelm the system. Vapor barriers of at least 6 mil do slow moisture transmission, however they are subject to compromise by tradesman on install, plumbing penetrations. Usually the sides of a slab on grade are exposed to moisture and in a heavy rain are a great source of water. [where is your tile in relation to an outside wall?]. With an inordinate amount of moisture in your slab from whatever source, it could be that your A/C is doing a good job reducing humidity in the house. This will suck the moisture up through a slab to the interior surfaces and in quantities that will not allow it to evaporate fast enough, so all of a sudden you see it for a change.

PM me if you want. If you install new tiles, please use a cementitious grout instead of some polymer modified grout mix. Then you can Waterproof the slab first and waterproof your grout joints so they will not absorb anything. I've got six year old white grout joints in my kitchen that are still as white as the day they were put in. But then again, I have a Waterproof Slab as well!

Good Luck and let us know what happens ! Glenn

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#24
In reply to #22

Re: Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/23/2009 11:46 PM

WOW- I am so impressed and grateful for your response.

You gave me lots to think about. I've noticed that the cream color grout in the kitchen (wet area) was always darker than the rest of the grout. Maybe there's been seepage for quite a while.

Again, much appreciation for your time and input.

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#26
In reply to #24

Re: Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/26/2009 7:36 AM

Ell510,

Before you bring in a Geo-Tech type, you may want to refer to "Darcy's Law", which explains concrete permeability and how moisture moves through a slab. Just google it and you'll find several articles.

The different color in your grout most likely tells you that some areas of the grout are absorbing moisture up from the slab surface while others are not. The big question still remains! Where is it coming from. Absent any obvious "my water meter is running" or "the sprinkler wets that wall every morning", a test of the slab for Relative Humidity may be in order. ASTM 2170 is by far the most reliable test available and anything over 70% is cause for concern.[Other vapor emission testing will not be accurate due to Chimney Affect, since you have floor surfaces covered, so don't waste the money or time]!!

It could be that you have some extraneous source of moisture that is wetting your slab, but until you are able to identify it, I'd focus on moisture transfer and movement through the slab. You can spend a lot of money on sumps, dry wells, drainage systems and so on, only to find that you never had a vapor barrier installed and you need to waterproof the slab!

Since you have an aged structure with no Cracks in the foundation that you have observed, calling in an Engineer is probably premature at this point. Unless your sitting on top of a 5' water supply line that has ruptured, I doubt your at risk of the structure heaving up from the ground!

The evidence of water is in the slab!! It's concrete and subject to a lot of moisture movement under different conditions. Concentrate on determining how much and where this moisture is located and that will point you in the right direction. Then you can decide on a corrective measure. Waterproofing the slab may also be the least expensive cure. Too bad that will involve removing floor coverings!

Or, who knows, It may quit raining and you won't see this until the next time it rains a lot? Concrete, even though it's a great building material, is also a big sponge!

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#27
In reply to #26

Re: Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/26/2009 11:32 AM

TY- this seems like a real common sense approach; the condo association has been very cooperative which is a pleasant surprise - I"ll keep everyone posted on what's found.

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#23

Re: Water Seeping Through Kitchen Floor

07/23/2009 11:34 PM

Your best course of action is to retain a geotechnical engineer to drill a few holes outside the building to determine water level. Then get his recommendations for remedial measures. A sump pump may be your best answer.

Sealing the floor is not a good solution because with increasing water pressure, the floor slab will rise to the point where it will break again.

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