Keep Water Out of Your Basement with Proper Exterior Drainage


Keep Water Out of Your Basement with Proper Exterior Drainage

You’ve got water in the basement.  Again.

After you get done moving the soggy boxes and dragging out the Shop-Vac to clean up, you begin to wonder:  where does all that water come from, anyway?  And, more importantly, how can you keep it out of your basement?

The answer to the first question is easy.  Outside.  Rain and melting snow outside your home are the sources of water in the basement and it can get in by a number of entrances.  Have a small crack in your poured concrete basement wall?  Say hello to seepage.  Deteriorated mortar in your cement block wall?  Water time.

Even when there’s no damage, water can still be forced into your basement by hydrostatic pressure when heavy rains cause the water table to rise.

So, does that mean you’re destined to keep mopping your basement floor every time it rains?  Nope.  Of course, you can (and should) repair seepage problems that exist in your basement but you can also keep water out of your basement by creating and maintain proper exterior drainage.  Here’s how.

Managing Exterior Drainage Keeps Water Out of Your Basement

There are several ways to create exterior drainage that will keep water out of your basement.

Clean Gutters – The first line of defense in keeping water out of your basement is maintaining the rain gutters on your roof.  Surprised?  Don’t be.  During a normal rainstorm in which one inch of rain falls, more than 1500 gallons of water will end up on the roof of a typical American home.    If the gutters are clogged with leaves and other debris, the water will simply overrun them and sheet over the edges of the roof to the ground below.

So, install screening or some type of shield to keep debris out of your gutters or just clean them regularly and stop saturating the soil right next to your foundation.

Extend Downspouts – The cleanest gutters in the world will be no help in keeping water out of your basement if they drain into downspouts that dump water in concentrated doses right next to your foundation. Splashblocks and 3-foot plastic tubes from the big box store do nothing but spread the water around, still allowing it to soak into the more porous soil that surrounds the foundation and eventually make its way into your basement.

Extending your downspouts beyond the ten-foot zone of failure that surrounds every foundation will ensure that rain water that lands on your roof will be moved far enough away from your house that it won’t end up seeping into your basement.

Underground downspout extensions will eliminate unsightly “snakes” on your lawn and eliminate the possibility of downspout extensions being knocked loose by pets, children or landscapers.

Extend Sump Discharge - When your home's drain tile captures rain water that's soaked into the ground, it feeds it to your sump basin where your sump pumps discharge it away from your house.  If this discharge water dumps right next to the house, you will have an endless loop of water soaking into the zone of failure, making its way to your drain tile, just to be discharged again into the zone of failure.  That's why it's important to extend your sump discharge at least 10 to 15 feet from your home.

Landscaping and Drainage – Like most homeowners, you take pride in having an attractively landscaped home with plantings, a tidy lawn and often exterior structures.  This is great, but landscaping done wrong can contribute to seepage so make sure you do your landscaping in a way that keeps water out of your basement.

For example, make sure that the grade of your lawn slopes away from the house to facilitate drainage; improper grading is a leading cause of seepage.  Also, when building planting beds near the house, especially those contained with stonework or timbers, make sure they have drainage built in to avoid trapping water near the foundation.

Be mindful, too, of planting trees and larges shrubs too near the house – they are likely to cause dangerous soil desiccation in times of drought when their root systems go in search of moisture.

If you’re unsure about how to keep water out of your basement with proper exterior drainage, consult a basement waterproofing professional for assistance.  At U.S. Waterproofing, we’ve solved basement water problems from more than 300,000 homeowners since our founding in 1957 and we understand the value of proper exterior drainage in keeping water out of your basement.  Why not ask for our free advice?

Have more questions about keeping water out of your basement?  Please post them in the Comments box below.


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