We knew when we bought our house that the basement might have problems. The people we bought it from had just finished the basement, everything looked really nice. But it was obvious it hadn't been through a Seattle winter yet. And because it was newly finished the things you'd typically look for (signs of previous water damage) were either covered over or no longer visible. For all we knew the basement would turn into a lake the first time it rained.
Shortly after moving in we had a couple big storms - lots of rain and wind, power out, that kind of thing. And we've had a very typical winter this year, with rain more days than not. So far there'd been no signs of water in the basement, so I'd figured we were good to go. Lucky us.
Thursday I got the kids off to school and sat downstairs to eat my breakfast. Headed off to school and picked Mal up afterward. I went to get some work done at the computer and thought, "hm, my socks must've got a bit wet while walking to my car/picking up Mal" (not surprising because my boots are old and have developed a couple leaks). But a few minutes later I realized that there's no way my thick socks got that wet, pushed back the chair, and saw that the carpet under the desk was wet.
I initially assumed it might be water coming up through the floor, because the carpet near the wall was still totally dry. But once Ryan got home and moved the desk I realized that where the feet of the desk had been - much closer to the wall - was also wet. We figured out how to remove the baseboard (which our contractor neighbor later told us may not have been necessary - oh well, new thing learned anyway!) and pulled back the carpet. In removing the baseboard we discovered a small bit of sheetrock with mold on it.
Our neighbor came over and since all the water was located almost directly under a window, told us he guessed it had something to do with the window - either the window was installed improperly and so water was getting in, or maybe the dirt making a bowl around the window was the culprit (almost certainly not helping the problem at any rate). After he left we got the padding pulled up and tossed it out, and propped up the carpet and set up some fans so it could dry a little faster.
So now we get to decide how much money we want to throw at this problem. Do we get the land regraded and install a pipe/drain thing or do we guess that perhaps a foundation drain has failed or needs to be installed and pay for that and the regrading? If we do option 1 then realize the problem isn't fixed, some of it will have to be dug up to do option 2. If neither of those solve the problem then we'd maybe have to dig stuff up yet again to determine what the actual problem is, wasting even more money. Argh.
Anyway, we had a landscape/drainage person come out and give us an estimate. We'll have another drainage company come on Thursday and see what they say. Our neighbor seemed to think we shouldn't worry about the possible mold inside the walls and just clean what we can see off with bleach. But I really don't want to go that route (we dealt with mildew/mold in our Indiana place, really don't want to again), so no matter what we'll at some point rip out that wall so we can replace any wet insulation and deal with any mold.
Our neighbor told us that they've had a river of water flowing through their basement a couple times, so apparently if this is the worst it gets we're pretty lucky. (And I can say from experience that this is better than 5 feet of water in the basement.) I'm starting to wonder if we'll ever get to do the projects we want to do on the house rather than just dealing with the unexpected problems that crop up. Home ownership is so much fun.