Keep Water Away From Your Home's Foundation

Keep Water Away From Your Home's Foundation

  • Luci Edwards
  • 05/17/22

(MCT)—Water is good for trees, shrubs, and many other plant forms. It’s not, however, always suitable for your house, mainly when your property stays wet and does not drain properly.

“Water is the number one cause of damage to our homes,” says Jamison Brown with AmeriSpec Home Inspection Service in southeastern Virginia.

“Excessive water around and under the home's footprint can produce a host of unwanted consequences — fungal growth and structural damage.”

The soil around. The house should slope away from all sides to protect your home.

Typically, the recommended slope is one inch per foot at least six feet away from home. This rule of thumb is not always possible for hard surfaces like drives and walks. However, water can keep moving away from home with these impervious surfaces even if the slope is less.

With time, the presence of shrubs and outdoor household pets can result in a change in the slope around the home, says Brown. Homeowners should annually review the ground around the house to ensure the gardening activities, installation of mulch or raised beds — and the comfortable spot your dog lays to rest in — have not resulted in a low area or a slope pitched toward the home.

If the lot slopes toward a home, a swale, or a shallow ditch, should be installed to prevent surface water from flowing against the foundation. A swale should carry surface water around the home and away from the soil surface or to a catch basin that will have the water via an underground drainage pipe.

A French drain can also help get water into the ground, where it can quickly disperse. The drain can be as simple as a giant hole dug and filled with rock, or it can be as sophisticated as a system of interior foundation drains that feed into a sump pump and exterior flow system.

Gutters and downspouts are also necessary to get water away from your home’s foundation, especially when the structure does not have a substantial overhang. For channels to function correctly, they must be firmly attached to the roof's eave; all seams must be sealed, and the gutters must slope toward the downspout with a slope of one inch in 17 feet, says Brown.

A good rule of thumb — one downspout should not drain more than 35 feet of gutter. The gutters must be clean to prevent clogging. The gutter downspouts need to be extended at least four feet away from home, with six feet being preferred. When downspouts are connected to underground drains, it is essential to keep all debris out of the gutters, downspouts, and underground drains.

Air-conditioning units can also create unwanted water-logged areas. Consider extending your unit’s drain pipe to direct extra water away from the foundation and a gardening area where moisture-loving plants like cardinal flower, Joe-Pye weed, milkweed, giant coneflower, cannas, or bee balm can drink it up.

Kathy Van Mullekom is a gardening columnist for the Daily Press, Newport News, Va.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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