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Will Pitching Dirt Away from My House Stop Basement Flooding?

Will Pitching Dirt Away from My House Stop Basement Flooding?

Will Pitching Dirt Away from My House Stop Basement Flooding?

If you’re basement is knee-deep in slimy water after each rain, you’ve got a problem. But this problem may not be related to your waterproofing or pipes. It might be all about your yard.

Proper landscaping has a pitch that slopes away from the house. This is because water follows the path of least resistance – in other words, it goes down. When your yard slopes away from your house, it drains the water away. If it doesn’t slope away, or if it slopes toward the house, it’s leading the water right into your foundation.

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Your basement flooding is caused by water seeping in through the cracks in the foundation and it’s led straight there by your yard. If you pitch dirt away from your home’s foundation, you’ll cut down on basement flooding significantly and maybe even stop it completely.

Assessing the Situation

The first step is to see how bad the problem is. You can’t always tell by looking. One reason is that the soil might be loose or there could be tunnels underneath made by chipmunks or moles. Go around the house and pat down the loose dirt with a board.

Then, take a long, straight piece of metal or wood, and go around the house checking the grade. Place it against the wall so that it’s sticking out perpendicular to the house. You don’t need a carpenter’s grade; you’ll see how the yard is sloping.

Re-grading around Your Foundation

Even if the metal or wood sticks straight out, you should re-grade. A flat yard leading up to your house’s foundation can cause just as much trouble as one that slopes toward the house. There may be small areas around the house that slope inward and these will cause big leaks. Another problem is that soil erosion over time could create a slope toward the house or wells against the foundation where water collects.

How much should you grade? This all depends. A grade of 5% is recommended as a standard. This is about six inches down for every ten feet out. For most houses, this is actually more than necessary, but it’s better to over-correct than to not slope enough. It puts you on the safe side.

Pitching Dirt

To re-grade the land, add fill near the foundation and tap it down so that it’s compact. The best dirt to use is high clay content sand. Clay is less porous than other soil types, so you won’t have water running through it. It’s also heavier, which means it won’t erode as easily.

If you don’t mind doing a little landscaping, another option is to create a dry well. This is a big ditch filled with large-sized gravel and covered with dirt. All of the water drainage in your yard goes down into this pit and collects there. As you dig the pit, you can use the dirt you dig as fill for the area around your foundation.

A Few Other Considerations

If you’ve got shrubbery around the house, it’s a good idea to dig it up and replant it somewhere else. Shrubbery always has loose soil around it. Water will puddle there and then move down into your basement. If you don’t want to remove the shrubbery, consider using planting boxes so that the loose soil isn’t right up against your foundation.

One more thing to do is to check your gutters. Gutters that are pointing toward the house rather than away from it are a major cause of basement seepage. Make sure they’re pointing the right way and you’ll cut down on basement moisture and also erosion around the house.

The best way to attack basement moisture problems is on several fronts at once. You need a good waterproofing solution in place, but you also need to take care of your home and yard to minimize water in the basement. This is one way to do it.