Fix Yard Drainage to Dry Out Basement
LESLIE: Kevin in Rhode Island finds The Money Pit on WPRO. What can we help you with today?
KEVIN: I bought a house in North Providence and I took up some bushes and everything. And now I have a problem with leakage in my cellar. I’d like to know what I can do on the three sides of my house; some French drains or some rocks for irrigation or …
LESLIE: Was – before you started dealing with the landscaping were you noticing any water in the basement at all?
KEVIN: No, I wasn’t.
LESLIE: And the landscaping that you removed, was that perhaps right next to the foundation?
KEVIN: Yes, it was.
TOM: It sounds to me like you created yourself a drainage problem there, Kevin. To keep your basement and crawl space area dry, there’s really only two things that play into this. The first one – and by the way, none of these involve digging up your foundation and putting in pumps and all kinds of expensive stuff. The first thing is your gutter system; making sure that you have a gutter system, that it’s properly sized for your house so you don’t get a gutter that becomes overwhelmed. You want one downspout for every four to six hundred square feet of roof surface. And then you want to make sure that those downspouts are extended four to six feet away from the foundation. So remember, one spout for 400 to 600 square feet of roof and then the extension of the spout four to six feet away from the foundation.
LESLIE: But you know what I think is that removing all of that foliage and the trees has sort of just stirred up all of that dirt against the foundation. And now you’re probably dealing with a lower grade. So now the water …
KEVIN: But when it rains the sump pump comes on more.
TOM: Well, and that’s the second thing you need to do. You need to address that grading. Now that you’ve got it cleaned out, you’re probably going to need to add additional dirt to get the correct slope. You want the slope to drop away six inches, Kevin, over four feet. So you add soil around that area and the type of soil that you add is also very important. You do not want to add topsoil. What you do want to add is clean fill dirt. Topsoil is very organic and will hold water. Fill dirt will be tampable and packable and you can get that slope and the water will run over it. Then after you have that proper grade established, then you can a little topsoil over the fill dirt to plant some grass seed or put some mulch or stone or whatever you want. But if you fix those two things, this should be very easy to get under control.
KEVIN: Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Kevin. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.