Keeping Water Away From Your Home’s Foundatiion
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Richard in Illinois on the line who’s getting some water through the foundation. Tell us what’s going on.
RICHARD: What it is is over time – I’ve got a ranch house with a walk-out basement and on the walk-out, when you come out, there is a retaining wall that is about 8 foot tall where it meets the house. It hasn’t really separated from the house but there is water that gets in between the retaining wall and the foundation. And then it gathers right at the bottom on a heavy rain and then seeps back into the basement.
So, I’m trying to figure out – the previous owner that had this house has put something in there like a caulking of some type that has gotten hard over time and it’s not slowing it down too much.
TOM: So this is a gravity situation, so let’s give you a gravity solution. Let’s have the drainage work with you and not against you. And by the way, you can seal this until the cows come home and it’s still going to find its way in. What you have to do is stop the water from accumulating.
So on the opposite side of this retaining wall, I’m guessing that there’s some runoff that goes towards the wall?
RICHARD: Yes, there is.
TOM: So what you’re going to want to do is intercept that runoff so we don’t get as much water that collects in that area. What we want to try to do is limit the amount of water that gets into that area to just direct rainfall with no runoff. That means no gutter discharge, no runoff from higher elevations.
So the way we do that is first of all, examine the gutters and make sure there’s no water dropping at the high side of this where it could work its way down. If there is, you’ve got to run a pipe underground to get it to a place where it’s not going to interfere with leakage into the basement.
Secondly, in terms of intercepting the runoff, what you could do is install something called a “curtain drain,” Richard. A curtain drain is a simple drain that you might construct yourself. You dig a trench that’s about 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide. You put some stone in that trench, then you put a perforated pipe on top of the stone, surround it with more stone, lay a piece of filter cloth across the top and cover it with soil. So when it’s all done, it’s invisible.
And the end of that drain that you just installed should exit to daylight somewhere, so you need to figure out the best way to do that, based on the configuration of your yard. What that will do is it’ll intercept the water that’s coming down from higher elevations. It’ll fall into that trench, come up into the pipe, and then run around the house as opposed to collecting in that particular corner.
If we can keep the water from collecting in that area, you will probably be just fine, because it’s rare that just direct rainfall accumulates enough water to actually leak in the house. It’s almost always the runoff from gutters and from drainage.
RICHARD: Right. And needless to say, I’ll probably have to do some – get rid of some landscaping, because it’s got some little, green bushes there along that wall, as well, so…
TOM: Yeah. And that’s a good point because sometimes, you can make the problem worse by having landscaping that traps water. So just think in terms of water control here, not in terms of trying to seal that water out, and I think you’ll be in good shape.