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How to Deal With Runoff From Neighboring Yards

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Rob in Illinois, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    ROB: Thank you very much. I purchased a rental property in Illinois here and I noticed that I didn’t have any water coming into the sump pump from either one of the tile around the perimeter of the dwelling or underneath the dwelling. But upon further exploration, I found out that there was a hole in the bottom of the pit and water was either percolating or, because of the water table, entering the pit from the bottom rather than the tiles and, as a result, the sump pump is running all the time.

    TOM: Right.

    ROB: And was just wondering if that’s a problem that I should be concerned about.

    TOM: Well, when you describe the water percolating up, I mean generally what happens is water will collect around the foundation perimeter and it’ll push down and then kind of come up into the floor.

    ROB: (overlapping voices) OK.

    TOM: It usually doesn’t go in the walls and then fall down. It goes under the soil and it pushes up. And so what you’re describing is pretty typical.

    What I would do, Rob, is look to the outside of this area and make sure that the grading is sloping away from the wall. Make sure that you have gutters and the downspouts are extended away from the wall and do everything possible to keep that area right around the foundation perimeter as dry as possible.

    ROB: OK. Now, I understand that we’ve got a drainage problem where we’re collecting water off of other lots and that the water table is high. I’m thinking about getting a city engineer to come in and look at the development. But I don’t think it’s coming from downspouts. I think it’s coming from the water elsewhere in the area; the drainage to this property.

    TOM: Right. I think what you need to do is think about something called a curtain drain. A curtain drain could be installed around the grading, the bottom of the grading around your house where the water sort of collects, and it’ll absorb that water and run it through a pipe and discharge it to basically wherever you point it to.

    The way you build a curtain drain is you dig a trench and it’s about 12 inches wide and 12 inches deep with stone in the bottom of it and stone surrounding the pipe and then some filter cloth and then more dirt. And the water comes, say, from an adjoining yard; hits this trench; falls down to it; comes up into the pipe and then runs off. So that’s the type of thing that would correct this problem.

    Go to MoneyPit.com and search on curtain drains and you’ll find the solution to it.

    ROB: What about a swale? Somebody mentioned a swale might work.

    TOM: Well, a swale is basically a grading term and that’s the low point in the grade around your house. In other words, if you have soil that’s sort of humped up around the foundation perimeter and then there’s a low point where it tilts away, the swale is that bottom low point. Swale is sort of a term that determines – that explains how the water is supposed to run around your house and the low point is the swale. And that’s where, frankly, the curtain drain would go, too.

    ROB: Very good. Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Rob. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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