Water and Gravity: A Love Affair


A polite way of referring to sweat is to say that someone is glowing. However, you never want to hear that your basement is glowing because that means you have a water issue.

Just last week, I was previewing a home for a potential sale. As I drove past the automated gates, lovely landscaping and cute garden statues greeted me. The house was absolutely charming and no that isn’t a euphuism for small and needs work as we typically say for fixer uppers. This home had character – a stone façade, a wood roof plus genuine cooper gutters oozing with the perfect amount of patina. This home had soul. It was a grand dame perched high on a hill just waiting to be discovered in Goldilocks’ fashion. Hand carved turrets made the kitchen cabinets seem to float in suspension off the walls. The powder room transported you to yesteryear as floor to ceiling vintage sage green and white onyx shimmered about you. Gilded hardware made entering each room a treat as I felt the weight and substance of each door handle in my hand. Light streamed through endless Palladium windows skipping across hand plastered walls.

I walked down to the basement. Abruptly my dream was over. From afar, I could see pools of water shimmering along a sliding glass door. In the background, I could hear a dehumidifier humming. All of a sudden, I was craving a thick wool sweater. How could this happen to such a beautiful home? A home that painstakingly paid attention to so many decorative details.

Water is in love with gravity.


Well, I can tell you how: water doesn’t care. Water doesn’t care how much time you’ve spent picking out pretty wallpaper or how much money you’ve spent recarpeting stairs. The main floors of your home are irrelevant to water. Water doesn’t politely step aside or cross over your home so as not to give you trouble. Water is in love with gravity and when they get together their love affair is simple. They join forces and glide to the lowest point they can possibly find. Like ballroom dancers, they wrap around each other and churn their way down landscaping that slopes towards a foundation. They seductively slip under doorway thresholds. In a crescendo, once inside, they fan themselves as far along concrete floors as they can muster.

Although water is essential to life, it is a dealbreaker in a basement. New Canaan has an overall high water table. Before listing your home, yes dust off your artwork and fluff the pillows but also address any water issues you may have. If you don’t address them then I assure you that a home inspector will. Hire a consultant to advise you on meaningful solutions for your basement such as the installation of french drains, curtain drains and permanent humidifiers. If you don’t want to do the work yourself then be upfront with buyers about the work that needs to be done and its associated costs. Don’t let the young lovers enter your home.

Christa Kenin has lived, worked, and volunteered in New Canaan for the last 12 years. She is an attorney turned real estate agent with Douglas Elliman. Christa is a former President of the New Canaan Newcomers Club and publicly elected member of the Town Council, and she is a current member of the Utilities Commission. Catch her bouncing around town with her husband, two daughters, and two Italian greyhounds, Minnie and Luna.

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