Flooding Cellar & House Move

10 Apr 2023
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United Kingdom
Hi all,

I’m looking for advice on a particularly tricky situation we’re having with our cellar (end of terrace 1880s Victorian house).

We moved in 7 years ago and although everything in the cellar was slightly raised (insinuating there may have been previous flooding), we didn’t have any problems with flooding etc, although at times the cellar could feel slightly musty.

In late 2019, 2 years after moving in, the cellar flooded with about an inch or two of water. We had recently had a stop cock fitted and presumed the issue was with that, so had Yorkshire water out to check. They diagnosed it was in fact land water from the rain and we had someone else come test and confirm the water had no chlorine etc in and therefore wasn’t from a burst pipe but from the land.

We paid for someone to come out and remove the water, as well as extra to disinfect the whole cellar. The day after it flooded again, and We had to pay again. Once it had been cleared, we had no other issues until last November when we were away and on our return we noticed it had flooded. We presumed it had been bad weather when we’d been away. It drained away itself and we kept an eye on it. Jumping forward to this year, we’ve just sold our house and we’re in the completion stages and this week it flooded again. We inspected our drains and there were no issues and even had a drain man come out and put a cctv camera down. He said there were no issues. We then decided to get someone out to check all our gutters and roof, they fixed some minor issues and it rained all week heavily and no problems so we thought we’d cracked it. Until a few days ago when it flooded again. Our concern is it hasn’t even been raining that much and it’s becoming more frequent.

We’ve noticed where the water is coming in and it’s usually from the same two spots.

Upon looking at the floor, I think a lot of issues are the water is getting through cracks and holes that have formed in the flooring/slabs.

We don’t mind paying for it as it’s our issue to sort but really don’t want the time or costs of installing a full damp proofed system when it’s flooded so little and infrequently.

I’ve attached some photos to show what we’re working with. The floor isn’t usually that damp we’ve sprayed it with bleach solution to stop any mould so please bare this in mind.

Thank you in advance!


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Not my area, but was recently in a cellar that was damp… had a similar floor, owner said if floods from time to time.
He had been advised to put a sump pump in… his take on this was nothing more elaborate than lifting up one slab and digging the ground out so you can get a submersible pump in it. Run the tubing into a drain and turn it on, he repeated as necessary.

It was something like this.
You will need a bit of wire (coat hangar) or something to keep the float upright (depending on how deep you dig the hole).

Doubt you’ve got a leak, perhaps water table is high-ish, or you are just a low point for the water.

Good luck with the move. (y)
It's wise to line the hole with brick or blocks so that water can seep in, but soil swill not slump in and be pumped away as mud. This causes a cavity beneath.
The ground water is rising up thro any joins or cracks or damage to the flag stones.
If you replace damaged flags and re-grout the joins to seal the floor you will probably push the pressured water to the floor wall abutments where it will re-appear again - same result with coating the floor with a bitumen layer.
A sump pump might work but they often require extensive work to direct the water into the sump eg. drainage might be needed around the floor perimeter.
Are you on a hillside or even a mild slope? Is your terrace of houses level or does each house step down to you as a low end terrace?

The key to this kind of problem, like all water damage problems, is to find the cause - not always an easy thing to find.
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Basements are often damp and wet, unless you promised your buyers a "habitable" basement complete with a building regulations certificate for the conversion it's not your problem. Just get a wet and dry and keep on top of it till you leave.

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