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Joined: Mar 2004
Posts: 98

Here in Oregon,{the sunny state} we use alot of the orenco float alarms along with a ZOELLER Automatic pump.

Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 22
Similar to some of the other plumbing leak detecting systems already mentioned. Doesn't address the issue of flooding from external source (rain, sump pump, etc).

Sensor detects water (e.g. on floor near washing machine) and sends signal to electronic valve on water supply.

Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,362
Likes: 1
Cat Servant
Certainly an interesting concept ... sort of a 'gfci' for plumbing!

For those interested... here's an update:

This basement was finished to the same standard as the rooms above, and used as much. While the water never exceeded 1/2" in depth - a total of about 80 gallons was pumped out- the damage will cost about $5000 to repair.

The biggest part was the expense in removing the water and drying out what remained. Next was the cost of replacing the carpet, ane repairing the tiled floor areas. Removing the panelling, drywall, and soaked insulation accounted for most of the remaining expense - and a great deal of the labor!

One of the alarms - especially the self-contained one posted by Bill - would have prevented this flood; there was someone sleeping within feet of the water's entry point, blissfully unaware that there was an issue. The drain could have been cleared and the flood prevented.

More importantly, the homeowners themselves set the stage for these massive losses by reodeling this basement in the 'cheapest, simplest' way, as they imperfectly understood construction methods. Well, they sure saved over using a contractor, didn't they?

I can't help but ponder the business lessons in this story.

The first was: This home has an alarm system; the alarm contractor missed an opportunity to sell his flood alarm 'extra.' That's unforgiveable in my business book!

Related to this is that a lot of bad feeling could have been avoided had the insurance company been even more explicit in stressing that 'flooding' and 'water damage' were not the same thing. This might have also been a good time to mention the alarm option.

The next lesson is a bit more subtle. There is the challenge for the licensed contractor, to get out the message that his design, his work, is worth the extra expense. Some relatively minor changes in the construction of this remodel could have greatly reduced the damage, and simplfied the dry-out after the flood.

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,771
Likes: 14
"Base molding" 6" of the wall with Azek? No carpet and long legs on the furniture.

Greg Fretwell
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,362
Likes: 1
Cat Servant
That is certainly a consideration - combined with no insulation for the first few inches.

Yet ... with hindsight being 20/20, probably the first thing that should have been done was to have a gypcrete contractor come in, and float in a dead flat floor that sloped ever so slightly to the sump. A few more floor drains mioght have helped as well.

While the floor looks flat and level to the casual observer, get down at base molding level, and you see it has more waves than the Pacific Ocean - and the flood revealed the sump was ever-so-slightly higher than the rest of the floor. So, step #1 is assuming water will enter - and step #2 is making sure it has somewhere to go.

Wood framing soaked water up like a straw, and metal framing pooled water in the bottom track.

The intricacy of the carpet layout made re-use impractical. I think a patchwork of area rugs, rather then wall-to-wall,
might have been a better choice too.

Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,362
Likes: 1
Cat Servant
As this repair continues, there are a few business lessons to be learned.

The first has to do with the customers expectations, and how they can change. When it was an 'insurance claim,' it was 'get more fans, more dehimidifiers, things must be perfect.' After the claim was denied, and the HO was paying the bill, it was 'do we really need 16 fans, 4 dehimidifiers, and a crew of three guys?'

With the HO now directly involved in the repair, work slowed to a glacial pace. There was no systematic approach, but a helter-skelter effort as they reconsidered just what they wanted done. Being non-construction people, this involved painstakingly opening/ taking apart nearly every wall, repeating the earlier design errors, and hiding all manner of hackwork behind the paneling.

(Side note: For those who like to 'back-stab,' those connections do not like being wiggled about).

At this point, a good $5K into the clean-up, it takes several days to get the HO to spring $1.50 for a piece of molding. Nor is the HO willing to explore commercial supply houses; if it's not at the box stores, it is off the radar.

Another factor slowing things down is the HO re-evaluating every visible element. It's not enough to replace the baseboard; now every room is re-evaluated as to the type of baseboard, etc.

The HO has no idea as to the 'sequence of operations.' For example, they want a certain room reoccupied first, yet this is the only room where cutting and painting can be done. There's a conflict there.

Finally, as the project drags on, the HO is losing enthusiasm, brooding on how long things are taking, feeling overwhelmed by the work necessary, and falling into a depressed lethargy. Not good.

Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 1,335
Sounds like working for the govt' crazy

"Live Awesome!" - Kevin Carosa
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,803
There can never be a proper fix to this problem while the floor slopes away from the drain, because an alarm of any nature relies on someone hearing it - and acting to clear the drain blockage in time if no other egress for water exists. Rain can arrive anytime and in unbelievable quantities, especially in these times of unstable climate. The answer for a 100% cure is to regrade the floor with a sand/cement [ or gypsum but I've never heard of this use before?] screed to proper height and falls of say 1-100 and sort out a proper engineered drainage solution. Since insurance will not pay for any future flooding, a basement sump pump to back up the gravity drain is probably the best option. But as the owner seems to be retreating from reality, even in terms of the cost of a few dollars worth of trim, I doubt any advise will be heeded anyway.

You can't educate pork.

Wood work but can't!
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,362
Likes: 1
Cat Servant
Alan, you're preaching to the choir.

In the past I've had floors levelled using 'gypcrete' or a gypsum-rich concrete. This is an exceptionally strong, waterproof mix that also flows very well; I think its as fluid as water when first poured. It can be sloped, levelled, and finished to an extremely close tolerance. I'm not even sure there is any sort of aggregate in it.

As for the owner's quirks ... this experience is highlighting the differences between a pro and a DIY. It's underscoring the need for having a plan and actual job management. Instead, we're sort of drifting along.

One factor in the equation is a desire to just throw it back together, just well enough to last until the place is sold (in some undefined future). Pass it along to the next guy.

It's also clear that these same exacting, eagle-eyed customers have absolutely no shame in hiding all manner of hackwork behind the panelling. I guarantee they'd have a fit if a contractor tried doing the same thing.

Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 368
"It's also clear that these same exacting, eagle-eyed customers have absolutely no shame in hiding all manner of hackwork behind the panelling. I guarantee they'd have a fit if a contractor tried doing the same thing."

If they do it in their house they are saving money, if a contractor does it in the same house they are being ripped off.

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