As we move out of winter’s March into springtime rainy April, one of the biggest issues for a homeowner is drainage. The most common issue we see during home inspections is the ground sloping in towards the foundation. This can cause runoff to work its way into the basement, or even worse, inflict structural damage on the foundation itself. A proper drainage system will lead water away from the foundation through clever sloping and pipes.
Installing rooftop gutters and drainpipes is paramount for directing water away from the foundation. Maintaining gutters through the removal of debris is essential for the drainage system to have its intended effect. Drainpipes can also be extended above or underground to lead towards a foundation drain further away from the house.
A wet basement is a sure indication of poor drainage around a house. Ideally, the ground around the foundation should be sloping away from the home at a 10 percent grade for at least 8 feet. Given an existing slope towards the home, another technique is to cut trenches to guide rainfall away from the foundation. These trenches require regular maintenance, but will serve to protect the home from runoff’s effects. Basement windows, typically designed to let light in, are another entry point for water. Making sure they have adequate drainage through pipes or trenches is essential to maintaining a dry home.
The soil and plants around a house can have a substantial effect on drainage as well. Water’s natural tendency is to give in to gravity’s influence, flowing to find the quickest path through the ground. Nonporous soil and densely-packed shrubbery can impede this flow, causing water to pool and inflict damage. A solution is replacing the offending soil with its more porous variety, and making sure to place plants some distance apart.
Other than those outlined above, there are several techniques to solve a drainage issue. These range in cost and labor, and can be quite the effort. Sump pumps, interior drainage systems and foundation drains all can go a long way towards insuring the good condition of a home. Concrete and clay pipes are being replaced by newer materials like flexible, corrugated polyethylene. Repairing or replacing a drainage system can be a costly, but ultimately worthwhile, investment.