Readers advice request – cellar keeps filling up with water

Readers advice request – cellar keeps filling up with water

14:35 PM, 17th September 2012, About 9 years ago 14

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Sallie has written in to request advice from Property118 readers as she owns a property in which the cellar keeps filling up with water. Have any readers of Property118 had a similar problem or can you offer solutions please? Do we have any surveyors reading Property118 who can provide advice on “tanking” the cellar or similar solutions?  Does anybody know whether insurance might cover this?

Sallies email is below:-


Just wondered if any of your readers are familiar with a situation we have found ourselves in. We have owned a property for nearly 25 years and at the beginning of the summer the cellars became flooded – ( we did have lots of rain). I emptied it out twice (with buckets!!!) but it kept filling up. Last week I went up as it had risen up to 18″ again so I hired a puddle pump and emptied the cellar out again – next morning it was 18″ again – we then discovered the water was trickling in – in about 5 places between the floor and the wall and it was clean water. We called Yorkshire Water and they came and pumped it out but said in their opinion it was either a natural spring that had popped up through the ground with all the rain or it is all the rain we had earlier on in the year that is still coming down from the hill at the back of the house!!!

We have no idea what to do about it and have spoken to our various contacts builders etc and they are all at a loss at to what to do about it?? I dont want o lose the tenants as they are very good but they have two children and I ma sure they do not want to live in a house with 18″ of water int he cel;ar all the time Any ideas gratefully looked at!!!




by Joe Bloggs

18:20 PM, 18th September 2012, About 9 years ago

1) why then didnt you say ANYTHING about the importance of eradicating the source!
2) its a cellar not a basement3) timbers in direct contact with damp is far more likely to cause rot than humidity.4) tanking wont lessen risk of dry rot as joist ends and plates will still be built-in. in fact it will increase risk as moisture will no longer be able to migrate to the wall surface and evaporate.
5) anyone unfortunately can call themselves a surveyor (as unlike architects its not a protected title). you are not however a chartered surveyor (which is a protected title).
6) you should be giving balanced advice and before proposing a remedy, it is necessary to first consider cause/s.
7) the question posted says nothing about a sale.
8) do you have shares in sovereign?

by Richard Greenland Richard

21:31 PM, 20th September 2012, About 9 years ago

Two main possibilities with clean water, one as already mentioned is a water main, but if the water board have been out and given it the all-clear this seems unlikely. To be sure you could test it for residual chlorine, you can get a handy little device for this

My hunch is that with the hillside nearby it is in fact an underground aquifer that has (re)appeared as a result of the heavy rain recently. Or possibly a general raising of the water table. I have been called to a house where water was bubbling up through the kitchen floor during the flooding, it's never done it before in living memory but we had to install an overflow drain through the wall as there was no way of stopping it getting in. Longer term we may have to raise the floor level and put waterproof membranes into the concrete. In your case it may be a one-off and subside eventually, or you may have to similarly fill-in the basement with membranes and concrete.


8:06 AM, 25th September 2012, About 9 years ago

Hi I have had a similar problem with my terraced house where water was entering, not a true cellar but, the sub-floor void which is only about 2 feet deep below the timber floor.
12 years ago I challenged the local council over the matter as they had raised the level of the road and put a back-fall on the pavement. When the house was built in 1890 there was a restrictive covenant stating that the kerb in front of the house shall be and shall always remain 18" below the height of the front door step. It is now 5" below. I was told by the council if I could prove the work they had done had caused the problem I could claim against them. It was clear to see that the rain water that was coming off the fronts of the roofs was unable to exit the town gardens now that the pavement was higher and also had a back-fall to it. Previously the water had drained away using a series of channels and pipes to flow out over the kerb and away into the road gullies. After years of wrangling and tests and investigations I ended up altering the rainwater fall pipes on all 37 houses in the street to take the water out directly onto the pavement. Immediately the problem was resolved and all the houses in the street were dry.
The water had been trapped in the town gardens and ended up running down within the walls and foundations of the houses where it would collect under my and my near neighbours houses.
I presented the new evidence to the council and was told that because of the Latent Damage Act I was out of time and therefore there was nothing I could pursue them for. According to them I was out of time even before they wrote to me saying if I could prove the work they had done had caused the problem I could claim against them.
It took 10 frustrating years and cost about £8k plus the cost of replacing the whole of the ground floor of the property.
The humidity within the property had caused furnishings, decorations and possessions to be ruined with mildew and I am sure has had an affect on health.

I still want the council to resolve the situation fully as the result now is that there is a river running the length of the street at the back of the pavement which residents have to jump over to enter their homes. This river is too high and too close to the properties, which results in the sub-floor being damp at the front of the houses, but at least the large volumes (up to 10 tonnes per house) has stopped.

My advice to Sallie is to check not only her drains but also the state of her neighbours.


10:45 AM, 25th September 2012, About 9 years ago

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my question - all responses noted - Yorkshire Water still investigating so fingers crossed they might sort it if not I have lots of information to go with - many thanks

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