Articles and Advice

You Might Have A Drainage Problem If…

Drainage problems aren't fun. Their inconvenient, potentially damaging, and oftentimes downright expensive. Luckily, they're also fairly easy to spot before they become too serious. So before you end up shelling out hundreds of dollars to repair the damage, these are the signs that you have a drainage problem.

Your Yard Slopes Toward the Foundation

One of the most common causes of drainage problems is inadequate yard slope. If your lawn slopes toward the foundation — or doesn't slope away steeply enough — it can direct runoff right into your basement. Make sure your yard pitches away from the foundation at a slope of at least 3%.

Your Gutters Are Gushing

If you see water overflowing over the sides of your gutters instead of flowing out the downspout the way it's supposed to, that's a sure sign that leaves and other debris are blocking the flow. Water spilling over the sides of your gutters can damage your siding and make it hard for grass to grow near your house. Luckily, this is usually a pretty easy fix. Simply clean out your gutters or hire a pro to do it. Worst-case scenario: your gutters are too small or are improperly pitched to allow drainage, and they may need to be replaced or re-installed.

Your Downspouts Are Too Close

Downspouts dump a lot of water — 600 gallons of water for each inch of rain that falls on a 1,000 square foot roof — and if they're not positioned right, all that water could be spilling right toward your foundation. Downspout extensions are an easy solution, costing just a few dollars and directing all that water farther away. You could also implement a system to collect rainwater and use it to water your lawn and garden during the drier months.

There Are Wet Spots in the Yard

Wet spots after a heavy downpour are understandable, but if parts of your yard are soggy even on days when it hasn't rained, that's a sure sign you have a drainage issue. Whether the problem affects your house depends on several factors, but you might want to talk to a landscaping expert just to be sure.

You See Water in the Basement

Water stains in the basement almost always indicate a problem, but the severity varies. If water stains only show up in certain areas, chances are they can be fixed by addressing one of the issues we've already discussed, like an inadequately sloped yard or too-short downspouts. But if you see water stains in a consistent ring around your entire basement, it might be due to a fluctuating water table, or municipal storm drains backing up during heavy rains — both issues that you are powerless to control. If that's the case, a sump pump may be necessary to keep your basement dry.

Your Foundation Is Cracked

Foundation cracks send a lot of homeowners into a panic, but not every crack spells a death sentence for your house. Sometimes shallow cracks form simply as a result of the concrete drying during construction, or small cracks appear as the foundation settles over time. Neither is cause to sound the alarm. But long, deep cracks more than 1/8-inch wide are worth keeping an eye on, especially if they appear to expand over time. If you suspect a serious problem, contact a structural engineer.

Poor drainage can be a costly headache for any homeowner. With these simple checks, you can avoid any major disasters.

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