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Rod holes, Basement water issues - Michigan home buyer tips

Written by Posted On Wednesday, 06 September 2017 18:32
Water in the basement....Oh no! Water in the basement....Oh no!

Welcome to my latest installment of Michigan home buyer tips (though Michigan home sellers could salvage a sale if they corrected these issues before they list).  Today we are going to talk about rod holes and water problems in basements.  As I tell most of my Michigan home buyers is that at some point during home ownership in Michigan they probably will have to deal with water in the basement.  If you are lucky you may never have a drop of water in the basement, however you do have a chance of water if you have a basement.

Basement water leak

There are two primary types of basements in Michigan.  A block basement or a poured wall basement.  A block basement is masonary blocks that have been motared together.  The blocks are usually 16" long x 8"wide x 8" tall.  I myself do not like block basement walls because in Michigan with the freeze thaw you will see some major damage to basement walls over time.  It's not every house, but if the masonary work was poorly done or there are bid trees, or water issues the block walls have been know to bow in or crack.  There are several ways to fix the problem, but most of the ways are costly to fix the crack or bowing.  It becomes a structural issue with the home.  A poured basement wall is when the form up the walls and pour concrete.  The whole wall is a solid piece of concrete.  Yes, many poured walls crack but they can be fixed.  The possibility of the wall bowing is minimal as compared to a block wall.  Usually a block wall will have a diagonal crack or a horizontal crack.  A poured wall will usually have a vertical crack.

Michigan basements

It is easier to fix a water leak in a poured wall.  The two main types of leaks in a poured wall will be a rod hole leak or a crack.  Either one can be a pain if the basement is finished.  Sometimes you have to take down some of the finished walls because the water is traveling behind the wall.  It may come out in one spot, but the leak may be 10 feet away.  let's talk about a rod hole leak.

1.)  Rod hole leaks.  When they pour the basement wall the forms are held together by rods or bolts.  That way they keep the walls a standard width and the weight of the concrete will not bow the walls out in the middle.  After the wall hardens the rods are pulled out and the holes are filled.  Years ago they used to just fill the hole with a cork.  Now they use the latest polymers or laytex to fill the holes.  Sometimes the corks in the old rod holes start to deteriorate.  They start leaking so you have to fill them again.  It is a simple fix and usually companies charge a mininum charge to come out, and then so much per rod hole.  I have heard costs of $25 to $50 per hole.

Horizontal block wall crack

2.)  Cracks.  Cracks usually come from back filling around the basement.  In the old days they use to brace the basement walls before they back filled.  Now they just back fill.  Sometimes the pressure of the dirt or the weight of the machines around the house cause a crack or cracks in the wall.  The repair company will chip out the crack and insert or inject the latex to seal the crack.  Usually this solves the problem completely.  I have heard it costs from $450 to $700 to fix a crack. 

The bottom line is that a basement water leak should not be a deal killer UNLESS IT IS ALSO A STRUCTURAL ISSUE.  Your home inspector or a basement wall repair company can usually tell you if it is a structural issue.  If it is a structural issue then you should run from the house.  If it is structural it will always be a problem, especially when you sell.  So it does not matter if you get a great deal on the house if it is going to sell for less later on or if you are going to have to invest major money to sell the home later on.  There may not be a willing buyer to take over the basement water issue.  A rod hole leak or a simple crack in a poured wall should not cause you to back out of buying a Michigan home.  However if you have bowing walls, horizontal cracks, multiple cracks, or shifting walls get an expert to tell you the cost and what needs to be done to fix it.

As always I want you to buy a good house, not a money pit.  I hope these Michigan home buyer tips about basement water issues keeps you from making a bad mistake.  For more home buyer tips you can find them at 


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