How to Repair a Basement Rod Hole

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Rod holes are round openings in concrete walls that mark the location of the steel rods that provided reinforcement while the concrete was wet. After the rods are removed from foundation walls, the leftover holes sometimes serve as access points for groundwater. You can repair basement rod holes by simply plugging them up. However, there often are many holes, so the process requires a bit of time.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer (optional)
  • Shop vac
  • Swell plug or cork
  • Socket driver (optional)
  • Hydraulic cement
  • Putty knife or drywall knife
  • Inert a screwdriver blade into each of the rod holes, and gently scrape out any loosened concrete from its center. Don’t try to expand the hole; simply remove the loose debris. If old hydraulic cement covers the hole, tap it gently with a hammer to loosen it from the wall. Remove the collected debris from the hole with a shop vac.

  • Open a package of swell plugs, which are foam plugs with a metal shaft on one end. Insert the foam end of the plug into the rod hole as far as possible. Push it the rest of the way into the hole using the screwdriver blade. Some plugs have a hex head which can be tightened with a socket driver. If you prefer, you can insert a cork into the hole instead of the store-bought plug.

  • Open a tub of premixed hydraulic cement, and scoop up ¼ cup of the cement using a putty knife or a drywall knife. Spread the cement over the surface of the rod hole until it is filled. Apply an additional 1/4-inch layer of cement over the repair site to disguise it completely.

  • Spread the hydraulic cement smooth -- with the putty knife or drywall knife -- so that it is flush with the concrete wall.

  • Apply additional hydraulic cement over all remaining rod hole openings in the same manner.

Tips & Warnings

  • Examine the repaired hole locations after the next rain to determine whether any water seepage occurs. Apply more hydraulic cement if needed.
  • Concrete walls typically contain two rows of rod holes spaced 18 inches apart. One row is at shoulder height, and the other is approximately 12 inches from the floor.

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